by ATC Staff
A Year Stronger: Appalachian Trail Successes in 2018
December 31, 2018
2018 was a big year for the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and all of us at the ATC. Despite several major weather events and three partial government shutdowns, 2018 was filled with multiple Trail milestones and the long-awaited completion of several ongoing projects. Thanks to the hard work of our staff, volunteers, members, communities and supporters of the A.T., the Trail will enter 2019 ready for another year of adventure and inspiration. Here’s a look at just some of the things you helped make possible throughout 2018!
- We collaborated with partners to add nearly 28,000 acres of open space surrounding the Appalachian Trail, including nearly 3,000 acres of scenic forestland in southwestern Virginia in coordination with the Virginia Department of Forestry and more than 200 prime hillside acres in Dutchess County, New York.
- We completed numerous special Trail projects — repairing and rerouting the Trail, felling hazardous trees, and improving overnight sites. Several of these have been multi-year endeavors, including a Trail relocation on Sinking Creek Mountain in central Virginia — this project alone took 3 years, 136 volunteers and 4,477 hours of hard work to accomplish!
- We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act — which recognized the Appalachian Trail as worthy of inclusion in the national park system — with several events, including online interviews with authors Cheryl Strayed and Jennifer Pharr Davis.
- We hosted 100 “Super Volunteers” for two days of training and goal-setting on how best to maintain the Trail and engage new stewards.
- We placed the final step on the Trail at Bear Mountain in New York, a multi-year project placing a whopping 1,298 stone steps (and we’re not counting base steps) for an exceptional redesign and rebuild one of the most popular locations on the entire A.T.
- We engaged community leaders to measure economic impact of the Trail, grow sustainable recreation economies and foster community stewardship.
- We curated and presented “United by the Appalachian Trail,” a compelling photo exhibit in the U.S. Senate Russell Rotunda to educate lawmakers on the importance of the A.T. Notably, 25 U.S. senators and 18 House members in Trail states signed on as honorary hosts of the exhibit. This exhibit will soon be touring in cities along and near the Trail.
- We partnered with 10 youth corps to improve the Trail and overnight sites, engaging over 100 high-energy Trail champions and helping train the next generation of conservation enthusiasts and professionals.
- Continued to oppose the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline near Roanoke, Virginia, and united 30 Trail Clubs in ATC’s comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, encouraging better decision making on future projects affecting the Trail.
- Pulled 622 pounds of invasive plants, and treated 536 ash trees to stymie the devastating effects of emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle that threatens America’s forests.
- Stationed 30 ridgerunners across the Trail to assist thousands of day hikers, weekend backpackers and thru-hikers, providing essential Leave No Trace™ information while monitoring and maintaining the state of the Trail.
- Worked with partners to restore habitat for important flyway areas along the Trail, necessary for migrating golden-winged warblers and other birds.
- Worked with “NextGen” advisors, a group of standout young adult conservation leaders, in advocacy, leadership meetings, workshops and events.
- Supported 6,000 volunteers, including 1,100 young workers, who collectively contributed 250,000 hours of service.
None of this would have been possible without the support of people like you. Please consider making a generous year-end gift to the ATC today to help us make sure that 2019 has even more success in store for the Appalachian Trail.