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November 2018

PATHE –Update

At the November PATHE meeting a couple of measures will be discussed and hopefully approved. Interested members are more than welcome to attend. This is a great opportunity to see how things work and to have your voice heard. Let me know and I will send meeting details.

The NEPA – Campsite subcommittee met to categorize the campsites along the A.T. in Georgia. In the original “draft” plan from 2015, there were three types of campsites: Threshold, Backcountry and Primitive. An Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) camping subcommittee identified five categories which we adopted, ranging from Wilderness through Front Country.

By identifying these various zones, they can be managed for “expectation”. Frontcountry campsites are more easily accessed, close together and heavily populated. Campsites in Wilderness Areas would offer better chances of solitude with less development. With over 50% of our trail in Wilderness Areas, we need to focus on the wilderness experience. Unfortunately, many users don’t understand the concept of a Wilderness Area.

In August the National Forests of North Carolina (NFsNC) issued a scoping letter about requiring bear resistant food storage containers. It is my understanding that response indicated support by 2:1. The PATHE-Bear Canister subcommittee will be meeting later in October to formulate our proposal to the full committee.

The decision ranges from no changes, expanding zones or making storage containers a requirement to the North Carolina border. This rule should extend one half a mile on both sides of the tread, or even more, to eliminate an exemption. The Forest Service may decide on enforcement throughout the entire forest.

While I expect there might be some resistance from the hiking community, I feel this is a necessary step to insure the safety of bears. I think it is tragic that a bear who gets into someone’s food has to be put down. They did nothing wrong, and have to suffer because of some hiker’s carelessness or ignorance. I also hope this will make users aware of their impact in and around campsites.

Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment

This year in the 2018 General Election we will have the opportunity to protect Georgia’s Lands and Waters for future generations. Amendment 1 will protect the lands that are critical to clean water and the quality of Georgia’s lakes, rivers and streams. It will also help build parks and trails and create new places to hunt and fish.

Outdoor recreation in Georgia is a $27 billion industry, which is one of the largest in the country. The jobs created and related industries rely on clean water and access to lands. This amendment helps protect these valuable resources by dedicating a portion of existing sales taxes on sporting goods.

Over $20 million annually will be generated without raising or creating any new taxes. These funds will be used exclusively for protecting lands, waters and wildlife. In addition to strict accounting provisions, all public expenditures will be disclosed.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Still Threatened!

Last May the administration unlawfully reinstated the long-expired federal mineral leases for Twin Metals (owned by Antofagasta, a South American company). This “green light” ignores science, public opinion, 60 years of precedence and objection by the Forest Service.

Twin Metals released a plan to move its proposed sulfide-ore copper mining operations even closer to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). This plan increases the threat that toxic pollution from sulfide-ore copper mining would contaminate the waters by locating a proposed industrial concentration facility in an area that flows into the BWCA.

A senior administration person proudly announced “we will soon be taking steps to rescind the federal withdrawal in Superior National Forest and restore mining exploration”. In my opinion this does not make America Great, but quite the contrary.

US Representatives Tom Emmer and Rick Nolan had proposed an amendment that would block the government from protecting the Boundary Waters. It would also force government officials to ignore the results of a study on the harmful impact sulfide-ore copper mining would have on the Boundary Waters. Fortunately, after thousands of supporters spoke out, and many US Representatives of both parties refused to vote for the amendment, Rep. Emmer withdrew it from considerations.