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September 2019

We are now moving into the dog days of summer, time to relax in the cool shade and make plans for this coming fall.  The cooler temperatures will soon be upon us and fall colors are just ahead.  I hope Trail Ambassadors will be making plans for fall patrols, which are just as important and spring perambulations.

What makes our club great?  While members comes from different walks of life, economic and political backgrounds we all have one thing in common, a strong devotion to our wild areas.  This manifests mainly on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and includes a passion about hiking, camping and preserving the environment.

Our principles and high standards have contributed to our success over the years.  As a reflection of who and what we are and not necessarily because of rules or requirements.  We share a commitment to preserving and protecting our trail and the natural wonders that surround us.  In addition to the trail itself, as a club we are committed to conservation, outreach and education.

And yet we struggle to fill our leadership roles.  Elsewhere in this issue the nominations for your 2020 board of directors are listed.  The nominating committee has a herculean task each year recruiting members to take important positions in club’s leadership.  As of this writing, one position remains unfilled.  How effective can we with an open board position?

I have always felt that in a self-governing society citizens have a responsibility to step up and take a turn in management.  I was on the board of a member owned country club and each year the nominating committee would field applications from members interested in being on the board.  This committee cold then focus on the direction of the club.

Sandi Mara, now former chairperson on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) board and now president of the ATC, in a webinar some months ago talked about how organizations should have a stewardship committee.  This would be comprised by current and former club leaders.  In addition to participating in the general direction of the club they would also serve as the nominating committee.  Of course, this works when people are applying to be considered for board positions.

While our members have very busy lives I recognize it is not easy or practical for many to make contributions.  Their continued support of the club by maintaining their membership helps uphold our principles and staying aware of our challenges and responsibilities.  They give the club a strong constituency when the club weighs in on issues we protect. 

In order to manage the club effectively, a few people need to participate in its leadership.  My sense is that in similar organization 5 to 8% of the people get involved at higher levels.  New leaders will come from current and new members.

I believe there are between one and three hundred people between metro Atlanta and the border that should be members of our club.  These are people that share our values and interest in the A. T. and wild areas.  With this increase there should be another ten to forty people ready to assume leadership positions. 

Growing our membership is important because we need the strengths, talents, ideas and diversity necessary to meet our future challenges.  We cannot take for granted that the trail we build and maintain today will last forever.  An organization cannot continue to be effective by standing still and relying on things that worked in the past.

We are fortunate that many long standing members step up in various jobs and positions such as; the yearbook, newsletter, web site, databases, etc. in addition to overseeing hike and trail sections and more.  Have you been on a club hike?  I am amazed at how well the Activities Committee operates, there are probably over 50 people that organize and lead hikes, and they always need help.

For our tradition to continue a strong core of volunteers and a board of directors is necessary.  Our mission is so varied now, it engages with other organizations and partners and touches on many complex issues that we need more and better informed leaders than in the past.  Our board members can only do so much, with fully staffed committees can we realize a strong and successful club into the future.

To get an idea of the range of committees look at the listings in the yearbook.  Then reach out to the chair.  If you have a skill or interest not otherwise listed there may be a place for you.  Let someone know or contact me.

All members are encouraged and invited to attend our bimonthly board meetings.  This serves as an opportunity to see how things work.  If you are interested in attending a meeting, please let me know.

Cumberland Island

The Cumberland Island Wilderness is under a serious threat by the proposed Camden County’s commercial space launch site which would be less than five miles from Cumberland Island National Seashore.  This proposal poses a grave threat to the seashore and the Cumberland Island Wilderness, which Wilderness Watch has long-fought to protect.

In March, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) whose preferred alternative allows for 36 tests and 12 commercial rocket launches every year over the island’s north end—the location of Cumberland Island WildernessThe FAA is now conducting its review of the proposal, including analyzing the thousands of public comment letters it received.

Camden County’s spaceport would have huge negative impacts on the Wilderness as well as the seashore, wildlife, and the area’s many visitors.   Clearly, the intrusion, noise, trash, and other impacts pose a major threat to the Cumberland Island Wilderness. Georgia officials seem to look only at the economic development potential of the Spaceport, while forgetting that places like Cumberland Island, especially on the densely populated and developed East Coast, are priceless.

To voice your opinion please contact the following: Senator David Purdue, Senator Johnny Isakson, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Governor Brian Kemp, Rep. Buddy Carter.  Let me know if you need contact information.

Don’t forget upcoming third Saturday workdays.  They are the time to visit with fellow members and keep our trail in great shape.  I’ll see you there.