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January 2017

There were always two expressions that I dreaded hearing from my teachers. One was, “Take out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.” Yikes! A test.  The other was, “Here’s your homework assignment.” Oh brother, not more homework. I would rather play. But with a new year upon us there is much work to be done. So, as much as I hated to hear this from my teachers, here is your homework assignment.

Throughout 2016 we have been talking about “Visitor Use Management.” The time has come for us to be fully informed about this subject. I am certain that decisions will be made this year regarding this and we need to be prepared.

First, there are several documents online from the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council, of which the Forest Service and National Park Service are a part, which might serve as a primer. I am providing these references not intending for you to read them all word for word, but for you to look over them and begin to familiarize yourselves with the issues.

Note especially page 50, regarding the identification of visitor capacities, a task that GATC may find itself involved with in the near future.

As you read the name, “Interagency Visitor Use Management Council,” do not think that this has nothing to do with GATC. The National Park Service and the Forest Service are active participants in this council. Policy determined at this high level will certainly flow down to our more local partner, namely the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has adopted a policy on this subject. Since GATC is an integral part of ATC, I believe every member should be aware of the policies adopted on their behalf.

Note the emphasis in this document on “Leave No Trace.” GATC has already proven itself as a leader in this area through its Trail Ambassador

GATC has always been a leader and model for trail management and conservation. I know that we will continue to do so. In 2017 I will be seeking individuals with particular interest in Visitor Use Management to help guide GATC in this effort. Will you be one of those individuals? Let me

Oh. By the way, there might be a test.

Don Hicks, GATC President