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Virginia Regional

November. 2018

Leaves are coming down, and views are opening up along the ridgelines on Virginia's Appalachian Trail. Here in the ATC Regional Office, we're thankful for dedicated A.T. volunteers and partners, and all the good work that has been done in 2018 to protect the Trail. 

Here's the latest: 
Welcome, Ranger Brian Wilson! 

We're excited to introduce a National Park Service Ranger with a new shared A.T./ Blue Ridge Parkway position: Brian Wilson! 

This will be the first time we've had an NPS Ranger focussed on our region, including the NPS lands around McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. 

Here's a message from A.T. Chief Ranger Carin Farley: 

"Welcome Ranger Brian Wilson to the Visitor and Resource Protection division at APPA.  Brian is a veteran Ranger with nearly 15 years experience, having been stationed or detailed in 21 states and employed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, as well as cross-designated by BLM. Prior to the NPS, Brian served as an Infantryman in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He officially started on 11-11-2018 and is currently transitioning districts.  Outside of work, Brian is an avid hiker and runner (NPS record holder in the Blue Ridge Marathon at 4:06). He has section hiked the A.T. in GA, VA and Maine.  Brian lives in Vinton, VA with his wife and son, and tries to keep up with the Roanoke festival season. 

Brian will work for APPA 75% of the time, patrolling and connecting with our agency partners, ATC and the 4 clubs in the region from VA-624 to Rockfish Gap.  The remainder of his time will be with Blue Ridge Parkway as part of the team in the Ridge District. This collaboratively managed-shared position is a new vision for APPA and we hope it will be a new model for the AT moving forward.   

When you see Ranger Wilson out on the trail, please congratulate him! WELCOME Brian!" 
Hokies on the Trail, near and far

Some Virginia Tech students are active A.T. stewards on the home front: the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT)maintains about 30 miles of the A.T. in Giles and Bland Counties.

But in addition to taking care of their beautiful section, Hokies have been going farther afield -- both north and south of Blacksburg -- to lend a hand on the A.T. Here's a sampling of recent projects:

  • OCVT members helped out with a SAWS work trip to remove graffiti from the Devils Marbleyard, near the  A.T. in James River Face Wilderness, in early November. 
  • In October, five students from the VT Engage program went down to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to assist the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club with a roof replacement on Davenport Gap Shelter. For the whole story of this major project, including some great photos, click here.
  • Before and after Hurricanes Florence and Michael, OCVT members helped RATC clear debris from the large culvert where the A.T. crosses Tinker Creek near Daleville. OCVT has helped RATC with a number of recent projects, including the glamorous job of refurbishing the privy at Pickle Branch Shelter.
What will they get into next? Big thanks to all the VT students and community members who have been helping with A.T. projects this fall! 

Thank you, U.S. Forest Service!

Loyal readers of this newsletter will recall that back in August, we were thanking Kubota for the generous four-month donation of a rental skid steer with a heavy-duty mower attachment for habitat and viewshed restoration in our region's open areas.

Now that the mowing season has wrapped up, we'd like to thank another partner who was essential to the success of this project: US Forest Service personnel. Too many USFS staff helped to thank them all by name, but we'd especially like to highlight George Annis of the Eastern Divide Ranger District. From ATC's Natural Resource Specialist Conner McBane:

"George played a critical role in improving ATC and club capacity to support the USFS in open area management along the A.T. Not only did George train both ATC and club volunteers on skid steer operation, he also helped lead this 4 month project from start to finish.

George (who is on the verge of retirement if we can't convince him out of it) put in long days, 5 days a week, every week for several months because of his endearing passion for these special places along the Appalachian Trail... Just this year, USFS/ATC/club volunteers were able to maintain 605 acres of A.T. open areas across the GWJEFF impacting all 3 Districts. This is a testament to George's passion and hard work over the past 4 months. George's dedication can best be described by his quote, 'If it's sunny, that machine is running.'"

Congratulations on a job well done to all the volunteers and USFS staff who put in long days to make the most of the Kubota donation. The hikers, pollinators, and wildlife thank you!

NCCC Crew in Mount Rogers

 For four weeks in September and October, we hosted an Americorps National Community Conservation Corps (NCCC) team in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. These 10 young people, near the beginning of their year of service, lent a hand on all sorts of A.T. projects with PATH and MRATC. They did everything from trail rehab to boundary maintenance, open areas restoration, community outreach at the National Public Lands Day celebration at MRNRA HQ, helped refresh some interior paint at the Place hostel in Damascus, and they even carried a box into Old Orchard Shelter for bearproof hiker food storage.

Honoring Karen Lutz 

It’s the end of an impressive era one region to the north. Karen Lutz, longtime Regional Director of ATC's Mid-Atlantic Region, is retiring after a storied career full of success and hard work. Karen is pictured at left, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Partnership for the National Trail System, in October. 

Karen brought numerous improvements to the Trail and the management partnership in the large and complex Mid-Atlantic Region. Among many highlights is the recent completion of the Bear Mountain project, a multi-million dollar improvement to one of the Trail’s most beloved, iconic, and impacted locations. For the full story, including a photo of Karen placing the final stone step, see the story Technical Triumph from the latest issue of A.T. Journeys magazine. 

Volunteers who honed their skills at Bear Mountain have assisted in all regions of the Trail and provided a solid example of Karen’s volunteers-first approach. She will be missed. As ATC determines how best to move forward after this significant loss, a reorganization of staff positions is underway to best utilize the existing skill sets in that region while doubling-down on a desire to be closer connected to the partnerships that protect the trail. 
2018 Volunteer Hours 

The numbers are in for federal fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 - Sept. 30, 2018)! 

5,832 A.T. Volunteers contributed 199,290hours to the management and stewardship of the Appalachian Trail. Additionally, they devoted another 41,000 hours to travel to get to the Trail for service and advocacy to protect the Trail. 

Click here for more details. Here in the ATC Virginia office, we're astounded daily by the collective positive impact of A.T. volunteers. Thank you for all you do! 

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In This Issue

Welcome, Ranger Brian Wilson!

Hokies on the Trail, near and far

Thank you, U.S. Forest Service!

NCCC Crew in Mount Rogers

Honoring Karen Lutz

2018 Volunteer Hours

Crumbsnatcher's Corner


Contact Our Clubs







Crumbsnatcher's Corner: Heads Up!

Hi friends!  Crumbsnatcher the A.T. Shelter Mouse here. This is the time of year I usually start hunkering down in my burrow - but ever since I got interested in the A.T. I've learned that winter hiking can be a lot of fun. It's extra-important to think about safety, though, and this year our region has already been hit with a big reminder to look up, look around, and factor a little extra time into your hike plan. 

Nov. 14-15, an ice storm damaged trees throughout Central Virginia and the Shenandoah National Park. ATC's Information Services department in Harpers Ferry has received many reports of trail sections with downed trees, broken limbs, and overhead hazards. A detailed report can be found on ATC's Trail Updates page, and will be updated as trail club volunteers report their progress clearing the obstacles. You can also find a link there for information about Blue Ridge Parkway closures, which may affect trail access. 

But even when you haven't heard about a major storm, you can always expect to find downed trees and overhead hazards on the A.T. Winter is particularly hard on trees, and icy weather and road closures make it hard for trail maintainers to clear the Trail.  

A few tips for enjoying the Trail this winter: 

  • Look up! Anytime you pick out a campsite, or even a spot for a quick snack break, look around and up in the canopy for snags, dangling limbs, leaning trees and other overhead hazards.
  • Give yourself extra time.Climbing over blowdowns and hiking on an icy trail can slow you down, and the days are already short. Remember that conditions at the trailhead may be very different from higher elevations, and one side of a ridge may be more exposed than the other. Save your ambitious big-mile hikes for the summer, and always carry a light source and extra supplies in case your hike takes longer than you expected.
  • Report! Up to date information about blowdowns and storm damage is very helpful for trail maintainers. The more detail the better, from a specific location to the size and complexity of the log in question. Email info@appalachiantrail.org

Volunteer Spotlight

Kristin Murphy
ATC's Next Generation Advisory Council

Kristin Murphy hails from the suburbs of Chicago where hiking and camping were not a regular part of her life. It wasn’t until she had interned at Canyonlands National Park in Utah, after receiving her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, that she truly understood and appreciated the conservation of our public lands. Murphy explains, “After that, I was truly hooked on public lands advocacy.”

Read more

Upcoming Events

*For more information, contact Kathryn Herndon-Powell at kherndon@appalachiantrail.org*

Work Hike with OCVT 
Near Blackbsurg, VA
-- December 3, 2018 --

Hiker Happy Hour with NBATC 
Lynchburg, VA
-- December 5, 2018 --

Annual Holiday Celebration at ATC HQ
Harpers Ferry, WV
-- December 8, 2018 --

Roanoke Hiker Happy Hour 
Salem, VA
-- December 19, 2018 --

Southern Partnership Meeting
Black Moutain, NC
-- March 8-10, 2019 --

Get Involved

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Volunteer Today 

Join a Trail Crew 


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Appalachian Trail Conservancy 
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. To become a member, volunteer, or learn more, visit www.appalachiantrail.org. 

Our mailing address is: 
Appalachian Trail Conservancy 
Southwest and Central Virginia Regional Office 
416 Campbell Avenue SW, Suite 101 
Roanoke, Virginia 24016 
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P.O. Box 25283 
Richmond, VA 23260-5283
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