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September 2018

PATHE – Update
At a recent PATHE meeting the disposition of the Low Gap shelter and hazard tree was announced. “Walk away” was the determination. The downed trees pose a big challenge, at best, to remove them with dynamite being considered. The process involves looking at a Minimum Requirement Analysis because the location is in a Wilderness Area. Certainly, doing nothing fulfills the minimum activity.

There was discussion about the disposition of shelters on the A.T., certainly within our Wilderness Areas. While some argue they are not appropriate because they help create a “bubble” of hikers and can be a maintenance issue, I feel that as a club we support their existence. I do favor limiting tent sites by shelters and creating tent pads and other dispersed sites to distribute the “bubble”.

We are looking for ways to better manage the volume of hikers we get during the spring season. Spreading people out will help disperse their impact. I think the biggest problem is that most hikers are not “educated” on how to minimize their impact, mainly off the trail. ATC has hosted a registration process so hikers can decide when to start based on the numbers of others staring each day.

Also under consideration are food storage requirements and a permitting system. There is not a bear problem due to proper food storage methods, such as cables and boxes, and this can continue with a requirement for food storage containers. The idea of a permitting system seems daunting but help towards educating people in sustainable back country behavior.

Trail Skills Workshop – October 26 – 27, 2018

This October the second Trails Skills Workshop will be held with an expanded class offering. This year the classes will be held out of Lake Winfield Scott where we will be camping for the weekend and ATC will be hosting a barbeque dinner Saturday night.

There are four courses offered: 105 Essential Trail Maintenance, 215 Drainage Design and Dips, 315 Rock Staircase Construction and Crosscut Saw Training and Certification. Please look elsewhere in this use for more information and registration details.

National Trails System Act – 50th Anniversary Celebration

On September 16, 2018 GATC will be hosting a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of this historic act, making the Appalachian National Scenic Trail recognized as the first such trail. Our celebration will be held at the new Reformation Brewing Tasting Room in downtown Woodstock from 3:00 to 6:00. This is a great opportunity to visit with old club friends and make new ones, while enjoying some local beer and food.

The National Trails System was created by the National Trails System Act, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1968. The Act created a series of National trails "to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation." The 1968 Act created two national scenic trails: the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest; and requested that an additional fourteen trail routes be studied for possible inclusion.

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) – Stalled!
In early August the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stopped Mountain Valley Pipeline from proceeding with ALL construction, not just construction on federal lands.  FERC issued the order with two notable comments:  1) the project is being stopped until issues related to national forest lands are resolved, and 2) there is an expectation that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will work out problems on federal lands. 

Construction has been ordered to “cease immediately” because the company hadn’t properly obtained rights of way and other permits. Unfortunately, some work has been done, and the good news is that work has stopped. Hopefully this delay will be long and discourage investors.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness - Good News!
On July 19, 2018, Minnesota Representatives Rick Nolan and Tom Emmer withdrew their amendment from the 2019 Interior Appropriations Bill. According to Alex Falconer, National Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters Manager:

“The withdrawal of this amendment today was a crucial victory for the state of Minnesota, the Boundary Waters and the sustainable outdoors economy of northeastern Minnesota. If it had passed, this irresponsible amendment would have risked both the health of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness itself, as well as the health of Minnesota’s existing, strong northern economy that relies on the Wilderness

House passes FY19 Interior Appropriations Bill (7/24/2018)

In mid-July, the House of Representatives narrowly passed HR 6147, the Interior Appropriations Bill, to fund the Interior Department agencies, U.S. Forest Service, and several other “related agencies” for Fiscal Year 2019. The bill was passed after an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) to transfer $2.5 million from Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) money allocated for land acquisition by the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service to help address the infrastructure maintenance backlog was defeated. Another amendment offered to the Interior Appropriations Bill to reauthorize LWCF was rejected by the House Rules Committee before the bill was considered by the House. The Senate has not yet acted on its version of the FY19 Interior Appropriations Bill. The efforts to convince Congress to reauthorize LWCF before it expires on September 30th continue by dozens of environmental and conservation organizations throughout the country.