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Put Your Money to Work on the AT

Help Preserve the AT in Georgia

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As a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Charitable Organization, the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club can accept your financial donation in any amount. Donations of $100 or more may be designated to one or more of the following specific purposes:

  • General Donation
  • Ridgerunner Program
  • Trail Ambassador Program
  • Outreach Programs
  • Conservation
  • Activities
  • Trail Maintenance/Repairs

Donated amounts of less than $100 will be considered a general donation. Click here to make a donation.

Sport your support when you have a Georgia AT License Plate!GATCNewPlate

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) receives $10 annually for each Georgia specialty A.T. plate purchased or renewed. Since the plate became available in 2013, Georgia license plate holders have raised almost $100,000 for ATC.

Apply for Your Georgia A.T. Plate

Apply for your plate by visiting your local Tax Commissioner’s tag office, or by choosing the “Appalachian Trail Conservancy of Georgia” specialty plate when you renew your registration online. In addition to the regular vehicle registration fees, a standard, numerical A.T. license plate costs $35. There is also a one-time manufacturing fee of $25 when you first purchase your tag.

Georgia A.T. License Plate Grant Program

Each year, the ATC uses funds from the sale of Georgia A.T. license plates to provide grants to organizations and individuals who are working to help fulfill the ATC’s mission within the state of Georgia. Since 2014, $62,195 has been awarded to grant recipients working on a wide variety of A.T.-related projects. Click here for a year-by-year summary of previous grantees and projects that received funding.

Give to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia when you shop onlineAmazon Gives

While the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club does not endorse Amazon, we appreciate their support through the Amazon Smile program. If you shop there please consider using this link. Through this program, the Club will receive a small portion of the proceeds of your shopping. Click here to shop at Amazon and help provide funds to preserve and maintain the Appalachian Trail in Georgia at no additional expense to you.


Whitley Gap Privy Gets a New Roof

Whitley Gap Privy
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club members recently completed the installation of a new tin roof on the privy at Whitley Gap Shelter. Our club member volunteers are always working to improve the Trail and facilities so others can enjoy their experience on the Appalachian Trail. Thank the trail maintainers when you see them out there!


GATC has received a 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award from the Rollins School of Public Health and the Goizueta Business School of Emory University. The award ceremony was held in Atlanta at Emory on January 19. Accepting the award was GATC’s current director of Community Outreach Jay Dement. Also in attendMLK Awdance were three former Outreach directors Marianne Skeen, Frank Wright, and Tom Ottinger.

This award recognizes and celebrates people and organizations in greater Atlanta whose work exemplifies the legacy of Dr. King. Some of the criteria for the award specify that recipients should celebrate diversity and impel action in building a better future for all. Additionally, it looks for organizations that invest resources for the well being of all children, especially those who would otherwise miss out on the many opportunities a young life should offer.

The award cites GATC for conducting a youth outreach program over the last ten years that helps young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in hiking and camping on National Forest lands. The program focuses both on children in areas of concentrated poverty in the metro Atlanta area and on youth in rural north Georgia counties through which the Appalachian Trail passes. Multi-day backpack trips are arranged for the metro Atlanta kids to build their self-reliance and give them a more immersive experience in the outdoors.

The award citation noted that over 25 GATC volunteers have been involved with these outreach activities. GATC thanks all of you who have participated and were instrumental in the club’s receiving this prestigious award. The Club also encourages any other members who are interested to join in this worthwhile outreach effort.

Presidential Ponderings

Jay DMay 2019

Here it is the beginning of April and spring is upon us!  This is such a great time to be on the trail because trees and plants are starting to bloom and the “green tunnel” has not grown in. 

In early March I attended the annual Southern Partnership Meeting along with Babette Broussard, Don Hicks and Joe Boone.  At this event we gather with partners from the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) along with other clubs and partners from the Southern (SORO) and Virginia (VARO) Regions.

During the plenary session ATC talked about starting a new Strategic Planning process.  The current plan was made for five years in 2014 and will conclude this year.  The focus will be on what the trail will be like in the near future.  ATC looks to have a strong influence on the direction of the trail and those involved with the management.

There was discussion about revising the Memorandum of Understanding with the ATC.  It has been many years since we have revised this contract.  Morgan Sommerville, SORO Regional Director, attended a recent board meeting where this was discussed.  I think we should have everything lined up soon.

An article was distributed about a volunteer who was late returning from a solo work trip.  Apparently, the weather turned colder than expected and the person was not prepared.  A search and rescue team was deployed and he was found seven hours after he was supposed to be home.  The important lesson to learn is that we should do our trail work with at least one partner.  Leaving an itinerary, behind indicating where you park and work is also important to insure our safety.

I attended a session about bear resistant food storage containers, as approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.  There is a movement for this requirement in the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests and our Chattahoochee NF is moving in that direction, as well.  I support such a measure and expect to see implementation in a couple of years.

Promotion v. Protection

In 1873 Yellowstone became the first national park.  In 1916 the National Park Service was established to protect the growing number of national parks.  These areas started marketing themselves to attract Americans who were generally afraid of the woods.  With these barriers broken down and new transportation options, such as cars and trains, it became easier for people to get to the parks.  Destination lodges were built so visitors would have somewhere to stay.

Over the last hundreds years visitation increased so much that it appears as if we are loving our parks to death.  Many visitors are completely unaware of the significant impacts they make.  Now many of our treasured public lands are suffering and it becomes harder to find a “wilderness” experience.

So the question of promotion becomes relevant.  Is it necessary to promote visitation to our wild areas when the result is increased impact?  I think we need to be more concerned about protecting these resources.  On a large scale we can fight incursions such as pipelines, mining, casinos etc.  For these major defenses we need the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Another way to protect the resources is through education.  I am convinced that practically all visitors to our wild areas are totally unaware of the impact they bring.  I find that when they are made aware their behavior changes.  To that end I will be working with the PATHE – Education subcommittee to develop some programs.

2019 Class of Thru Hikers

At this point we are in the middle of the Thru-Hiker season.  It looks like the numbers are just behind last year’s, which is good.  Most of the aspirants seem to be fairly well prepared although their experience level in unknown. 

I talked with one “starter” who appeared well packed and claimed to have a lot of experience.  He had been watching You Tube videos for three years and identified several reliable sources for recommendations on buying gear.  He had it intellectually, but had not spent a night on the ground.  I think he will make it.

Notwithstanding physical restraints like a broken limb, successful completion of a thru hike is not gear based but mental.  If a hiker’s attitude is in the “right place” they will get their trail legs and will figure out gear to take and what to leave behind.

Wilderness Protection for 20,000 acres in Cherokee National Forest

New congressional action, signed into law on December 20, 2018, created a new wilderness area and expanded five existing wilderness areas in the Cherokee National Forest.  This was woven into a package of legislation known as the "farm bill."

The new Upper Bald River Wilderness will protect about 9,000 acres in Monroe County, including the headwaters of the Upper Bald River.  Sampson Mountain is the centerpiece of the region. Expanded wilderness protection would add 2,922 acres west of the Bald Mountain range and help form a broader conservation and outdoor recreation area along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act would add 4,446 acres to the northeast of the existing wilderness, preserving several miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and protecting important fisheries in the nearby Watauga Lake and Watauga River.

The Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness contains land in both Tennessee and North Carolina. The addition would help wildlife bridge the gap between the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, protecting an exceptional black bear habitat in the process.

The Big Frog Wilderness combined with the adjacent Cohutta Wilderness, forms the largest tract of wilderness on National Forest Service lands in the eastern United States.

Little Frog Mountain Wilderness, companion to Big Frog Wilderness, would add nearly 1,000 acres, incorporating part of the Benton MacKaye Trail and popular whitewater rapids. It would also protect habitats for black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer and other species.

That’s it for now, see y’all on the trail.


Hawk Mountain Campsites

Check out the U.S. Forest Service Facebook post about the recent updates to the Hawk Mountain shelter and campsite area.  Should make things a lot easier for the upcoming thru-hiker season!