The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have a long-standing partnership to manage and maintain the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.
The USFS furnishes supplies, materials, equipment, and expertise regarding statutory and regulatory guidelines, and the GATC furnishes volunteer labor for construction and maintenance of the AT.
With Appalachian Trail Conservancy support, GATC also furnishes supplies and materials for construction projects. Since 1979, GATC has corrected specific erosion problems with waterbars, log or rock steps and cribbing, grade dips or minor relocations so as to harden the entire Georgia Trail.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding, GATC is responsible for the following trail maintenance activities, described in detail in the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club Plan for Management of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia:
Trail Shelters and Campsites
GATC routinely cleans and maintains the shelter system and, with USFS district coordination, develops and maintains off-trail campsites as needed to reduce and control the environmental impact of misuse along the trail corridor.
Trail Signs & Trail Markings
Originally, all trail signs, blazes and metal AT markers were placed by the GATC. Subsequently trail signs indicating location and distance became the responsibility of the USFS. Trail blazes continued to be the responsibility of the GATC.
Bridges and Stream Crossings
Where the Trail crosses permanent or intermittent watercourses or poorly drained areas, GATC may make improvements for hiker safety and convenience, such as drainage ditches, stepping stones, cribbing, bridges, or similar construction.
Trail Heads & Parking
GATC checks each major access point periodically and informs the appropriate partner of needed facilities, repairs, and/or maintenance to preserve the wilderness character of the AT and to insure hiker safety.
GATC provides all tools necessary for trail work to volunteers and assumes responsibility for the storage, upkeep and maintenance of these tools.
GATC identifies, inspects and cleans water sources at every shelter and at reliable sources along the trail. GATC also determines the general condition of all water sources on a regular basis.
GATC volunteers hike the entire length of the Trail in Georgia each year for the purpose of evaluating its conditions and planning its maintenance program for the year.
GATC considers safety to be of prime importance in carrying out its trail management and maintenance duties. GATC members and guests are encouraged to practice safe work habits, wear appropriate protective clothing, and utilize protective equipment as they pursue their maintenance activities. GATC members will receive first aid/CPR, chain saw, and or crosscut saw training before using these saws in any GATC maintenance activity.
With the dramatic increase in Trail and shelter use in the 1980s, the GATC became more concerned with the public health aspects of impacted areas along the Trail and began installing open style privies at shelter sites beginning at the most heavily used sites, Springer and Blood Mountain shelters. After a trial of the moldering privy at the Gooch Mountain shelter (2001-2002), GATC and USFS agreed to install this type of privy at all shelters in Georgia.