Continuing our discussion of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s “Strategic Plan 2015-2019,” this month we look at the goal: “Engaged Partners.” This is defined as “Engage and sustain a network of partners that reinforces our goals for the A.T. and our programs.” Desired outcomes for this goal include:
•Assist all 31 clubs with Trail and facility management.
•Continue to collaborate with the National Park Service and all primary federal, state, municipal and private partners.
•Strengthen relationships with A.T. communities so that future programs are supported.
“Engaged Partners” is a goal that we as a Club may take for granted. But we shouldn’t. Since the early days of GATC, we have had enormous resources internally to accomplish so many great things. But, we could never accomplish our mission alone. The so called “three-legged stool,” made up by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Forest Service (USFS), and GATC has been a strong process that has made the A.T. in Georgia the model for all other trail maintaining clubs.
GATC considers our relationship with the Forest Service to be one of our ongoing priorities. We are proud of our close working relationship with our District Rangers: Andy Baker (Blue Ridge Ranger District) and Ed Hunter (Chattooga River Ranger District). Everything that we do in the Forest is planned and coordinated with those two individuals and their staff. We maintain continual communications with many in the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Gainesville including Betty Jewett (Forest Supervisor) and John Campbell (recently promoted to Staff Officer for Recreation, Engineering, Lands and Cultural Resources).
The staff at the Southern Region of the ATC (SORO) in Ashville, NC is in almost daily contact with GATC Board and other leaders and we proudly consider them part of our family. Morgan Sommerville is Regional Director and we have worked with him for years. Morgan was instrumental in bringing the idea of a new Hawk Mtn. campsite to GATC. Though some of us were doubtful last Fall when the idea was presented, the project turned out as a great success of which we are all rightfully proud. Leanna Joyner is Trail Resources Manager. Among so many other things that she is involved in, she coordinates Konnarock and works closely with GATC to help all our trail projects run smoothly. Julie Judkins is the Education and Outreach Director. She coordinates the work with A.T. Communities and the Next Generation Council. Amanda Wheelock, added recently to the SORO staff is Office Administrator and did such a great job with the minutes and general coordination of the Southern Partnership meeting in March. I am so grateful to Morgan and his fantastic staff as they work arm-in-arm with GATC to help us carry out our mission.
GATC is fortunate to have so many dedicated, skilled, and enthusiastic leaders and volunteers. But, let us always remember. We could not do what we do without our partners.
Don Hicks, GATC President