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May 2018

Board Nominations

It seems strange as our new board is just getting started and already thinking about members to fill positions next year. As I write this I am preparing to form a nominating committee tasked with identifying replacements for board members that are retiring. This is a great opportunity for members to become more involved with club operations.

I believe it is imperative for members of a self-governed group to take a turn in managing that group. For close to ninety years many members have contributed their time and efforts to build GATC into the great organization it is today. I encourage everyone to consider taking a turn on the board to help shape and grow our club.

If you don’t currently have the time for a director’s position, consider an active role on a committee. Our club is involved in many areas and more committee members are needed to organize and expand these activities. Look through the club’s Yearbook, for a committee listing, if there is something you are interested in, contact the chair of that committee. If you have an idea or are not sure who to contact, let me know and I’ll help get you connected.

The future success of our club requires member involvement. It takes a fair amount of work running this organization, please consider taking an active role and remember you can control how involved you become.

Hours and Expenses

Numbers drive things. The number of hours we devote to maintaining the trail, and all the other functions we perform, help the Forest Service. For accounting purposes each volunteer hour is rated at $24.11, which yields almost a half a million dollars in the value GATC contributes. This helps the Forest Service with their budgeting and financial needs.

In addition, it is also important that members submit receipts for club purchases. Now, I don’t mean many of the expenses that we as members incur, rather those items that are in committees budgets. If you feel like covering some expenses, please make a donation. This leads to a more accurate accounting of the true cost our programs.  

Trail Ambassadors

At this point, around the first of April, we are in the middle of the “bubble”. Thru hikers are encouraged to start their trek at the Arch at Amicalola Falls State Park. Not only does this make for a better count, after they attend an orientation they receive a 2018 hang tag. This hopefully better prepare hikers as they start journeying north.

Trail Ambassador Bob Sloan has been spending a lot of time in the Visitor Center getting hikers started and in his opinion there is a 15% increase over last year. We could have seen over 1800 people start by April 1st.

I hope to see more Trail Ambassadors patrolling through April and the rest of the year. While this is crunch time, there are always people in need on our trail. I look forward to seeing Trail Ambassadors covering the trail through the summer and then again during the busy fall season.

View shed along the Appalachian Trail Club

One of the valuable services the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) provides is to serve as a watch dog group on matters that affect the Appalachian Trail. This includes identifying methods to avoid, minimize, or eliminate the visual and experiential impacts to the trail and the surrounding view shed. Of immediate concern are some proposed utilities crossing.

While it not always possible to eradicate an incursion, the ATC works to mitigate the problem and minimize the impact. This becomes a harder and harder struggle and everyone’s help is needed to keep these situations to a minimum.

Even though there are no immediate concerns in Georgia, our vigilance is necessary to help preserve the whole trail and establish a defense to prevent situations closer to home. I believe all Wilderness Areas need our help for their protection, simply because they exist and they are important to us.

With continued extraction of natural gas in West Virginia and Pennsylvania there are several proposed pipelines that could cross the Appalachian Trail. We need to focus on the cumulative effects of multiple impacts on the trail and the surrounding infrastructure.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is one project that would carry natural gas to Virginia and West Virginia and has been controversial since it was initially proposed. This 300 mile pipeline would cross many water sources and protected areas and at one point the A.T.

The ATC strongly opposes this project because of the effect it would have on the landscape surrounding the AT corridor. Other problems it would cause include possible contamination of drinking water and the economic impact of reduced recreation based tourism.

Many local stakeholders, including ATC and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, have provided input on how this project could be implemented with less impact, however most of this advice was not considered.

These are some of the major concerns about the Mountain Valley Pipeline:

  • Permanent damage to iconic views along the Appalachian Trail
  • Health, safety and water quality concerns for nearby communities and the surrounding environment.
  • Harmful changes to the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan
  • A potentially significant impact on the economy for nearby communities.