by Natrieifia Miller
Club Round Up – Stories of Partnership
This week’s Club Round-up focus is Partnerships
Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC)
After many years of heavy use the A.T. treadway south of Hog Camp Gab leading to Cole Mt. summit was in serious need of some TLC (tender loving care). The need was obvious but the resources to complete the large, complex repair job remained a dilemma. Thanks to collaborative efforts between Virginia Military Institute (VMI) cadets, United States Forest Service (USFS), and NBATC, the “FTX A.T. project” was finally undertaken and completed over the course of three days this April 2-5, 2016. To learn more about the project’s journey from idea to actualization read the column by Bruce Summers on page 4 of the NBATC newsletter.
Massachusetts A.T. Committee
While this project took a long time to come to fruition, it was a huge success! The goal: straighten the Shays’ rebellion monument. The Sheffield Tree Project had been looking to plant trees in the surrounding area and so on Arbor day of 2016 they came together with AMC-Massachusetts A.T. Committee to finally take action. Because the monument sits on National Park Service Appalachian Trail lands the planning for the project took over two years as necessary compliance for natural and cultural resources was undertaken. To take a look at the process of righting the monument and planting those trees, check out AMC-Massachusetts A.T. Committees blog post about the project!
Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (SMHC) Fontan Litter Clean-up
Submission by Rebekah Young, SMHC Vice President
On Wednesday October 21, 2015, 32 volunteers from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (SMHC), Fontana Village Resort, and Graham County Economic Committee (GREAT) joined forces to perform a shoreline litter cleanup focused at the south end of the Fontana Dam, Fontana Marina, and near the Fontana Hilton Shelter.
Reasons this area was chosen
- These south end locations are directly visible by hikers along the Appalachian Trail in this area.
- Currents and wind gradually bring the debris to the area around the dam and into the multitude of coves around the lake.
- Due to the steepness of the banks and other logistical obstacles, Fontana Lake has not been put on a regular cleanup schedule like other lakes in the TVA network.
- Over 4000 pounds of litter and debris was collected in one day!
- Litter consisted of bottles, cans, tires, building materials, large pieces of Styrofoam, and an AC unit!
- Another cleanup has been proposed by the partners in Spring when the dam is reopened to vehicle traffic. Efforts will be focused on the north side of the lake between the dam and Lakeshore Trail junction.
- Tennessee Valley Authority discussed several new projects around the shelter area and SMHC will be helping with outreach to Fontana recreation users on TVA’s contributions to land management and recreation.
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) Campsite Management
(a sub-set of Protecting the A.T. Hiking Experience)
Submission by Jay M. Dement, GATC Outreach Director
Over the last two years, partners from Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and Georgia Appalachian Trail Club have been focused on how to cope with increasing visitation on the southern end of the Trail, particularly by people attempting thru-hikes, alongside the heavy-use of section and day hikers annually during spring. Through regular meetings this partnership developed a comprehensive plan of action which has evaluated a number of options to improve resource protection and assure the desired A.T. condition in GA.
Initial accomplishments have resulted in a new, expansion resistant campsite near Hawk Mountain, additional seasonal caretakers, improved data collection and discussions about additional campsite improvements.
Keystone Trails Association (KTA)
Submission by Jim Foster, KTA Board of Directors, Secretary
In 2015, I learned that the section of the A.T. in Pennsylvania near Lehigh needed a club to maintain it. I immediately thought that Keystone Trails Association would be a good candidate. KTA is the Keystone State’s leading proponent for hiking and trails. We maintain hundreds of miles of trails all over the state, but we hadn’t been directly involved with the A.T. for several decades.
There was a huge “but” to our involvement with the A.T., however. Our group of maintainer volunteers was fully committed with our existing responsibilities, and we would need to recruit a new corps of volunteers before we could commit to this new task. KTA developed plans to recruit new volunteers in the greater Allentown area.
Our best partner in this endeavor has been the Lehigh Gap Nature Center. The LGNC is located right next to the Trail in the middle of this section. It is the only Superfund site in the country to be restored to an environmental education center. We approached Dan Kunkle, Executive Director of the LGNC, to see if they would be willing to help out. Boy, did they!! They agreed to host two recruitment hikes to solicit new volunteers. Dan gave us the names of their press contacts in the Lehigh Valley to get the word out. Our efforts were a huge success, with about 70 people coming out for the two hikes. As we developed the core leadership team for this venture, they allowed us to meet at the LGNC several times.
Perhaps the best example of their support was when we were looking for a place to store tools near our new trail section. I called Dan to see if we could share a corner of the shed they use for their tools. Dan said he had a better idea. On the grounds of the Center, they have a mostly unused building. Dan said we were welcome to use this entire building to store our stuff, and he even gave us our own keys for it. Thanks to our partners LGNC, we now have a group of about 30 volunteers maintaining our new A.T. section,, plus some side trails.
KTA simply could not ask for a better partner than the Lehigh Gap Nature Center. If you’d like to learn more about their great environmental and conservation work, go to their website, lgnc.org