Check out the story about North Adams’ designation as the newest A.T. Community here!
Waynesboro >> In 2013, the greater Waynesboro area was recognized by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as an official Appalachian Trail Community. Waynesboro has joined Boiling Springs and Duncannon as Appalachian Trail Communities in Pennsylvania.
On April 26, a Saturday, representatives from the Borough of Waynesboro, Washington Township, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club will celebrate that designation in conjunction with Renfrew Institute’s Earth Celebration Day & Festival.
The event will start at 12:30 p.m.
Four days before that, on April 22, there will be areas at Renfrew focusing on the Appalachian Trail and how towns along the 2,000-mile trail help the hiking community.
The question is, what is an AT Community, and what does it do?
It’s a boon to hikers, said Joshua McAlister, of Waynesboro. McAlister, now 30, and his father hiked the entire 2,000-plus miles of the trail from Georgia to Maine in 2005. It took them 144 days.
When the McAlisters did their through-hike, information about what could be found in towns along the trail was pretty much hit-or-miss.
“It was just whatever information you could gather on your own,” he said. “Having the designation is good. It will help the hikers, and let them know what’s available.”
Trail hikers today can visit the Appalachian Trail Communities website and find out what is available in the 35 AT Communities, either before they set out, or even by using smart phones or other portable digital devices while on the trail itself.
“They can come off the trail on Route 16 and they will know what is available in the nearby towns, whether they need a meal, lodging for the night, or some equipment,” McAlister said.
Christopher Firme of Blue Ridge Summit, a fervent trail hiker since the mid-1980s, said getting a business listed on the website is simple.
“Having the area get the designation for the area means that businesses will be able to be more in the forefront for the trail community,” he said. “What happens is, businesses fill out information and it gets put on the AT website. That’s all it takes. It will allow through hikers and section hikers, when they’re setting up their plans, they will know that the trail comes out on 16 between Blue Ridge Summit and Rouzerville. They’ll know they can resupply. Some hikers will mail boxes of items to local post offices. They can get cleaned up and have a better meal than they would on the trail, and some will stay in a motel.
“We’re lucky that we have the AT in our neighborhood,” he added.
For all of its relative remoteness, the annual “population” of the Appalachian Trail is equal to a city the size of Los Angeles, according to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail website (http://www.nps.gov/appa), approximately 3 to 4 million visitors hike at least a section of the trail every year. That’s a lot of hungry, tired and footsore people with money in their pockets.
Though the AT is covered by the National Park Service, it is maintained by volunteers, Firme added.
“In Pennsylvania, it runs about 242 miles through state forests, parks, gamelands, national park lands, and municipalities,” Firme said. “The AT is unique.”
Firme’s “real job” is with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, where he spends his time fighting gypsy moths and the woolly adelgid and other pests. He is also one of the many volunteers who oversees and maintains the trail.
“I take care of a section of the AT from Route 16 to Rattlesnake Run Road,” he said. “I co-oversee with Al Black. We split the section; I take a piece about 2.2 miles long, and he takes of the remaining 2.3 miles. I take care of the Deer Lick Shelter.”
On the trail, there are always “blazes” — white spots spray painted onto trees to mark the trail — to maintain, wooden treads on steep parts of the trail to replace, and other chores.
Julie Judkins of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said the Appalachian Trail Communities program started with two test communities back in 2006.
“The two communities, Hot Springs, North Carolina and Boiling Springs in Pennsylvania, went through a year-long sort of forum process to see what kind of things communities would be interested in having while working with us,” she said.
As it turns out, the desires of the two communities were very different.
“So we tried to build a program over the next few years working with volunteers and managers, hiking clubs and different organizations,” Judkins said. “We realized we needed to be flexible.”
In 2010, the ATC launched the current Communities program.
“It has been very successful,” Judkins said. “We now have 35 communities in the program. There has been a lot of interest from communities all along the trail. Now, we have some leverage. There are a lot of branding opportunities, and the trail brings a lot of national name recognition.”
One of the conservancy’s main interests lies in getting the public to know where the AT is.
“It’s an actual national park in their back yard,” she said. “We’re thrilled that Waynesboro and Washington Township worked together and turned in an application together.”
Pat Fleagle, director of economic development for Mainstreet Waynesboro Inc., submitted the application, along with Clint Rock, Washington Township planner, and Kathy Seiler, local trail club representative, after months of reaching out to businesses and organizations in the area, according to a recent press release.
Posted from Public Opinion Online by T.W. Burger:
Post by Kathleen Seiler, for PATC’s POTOMAC APPALACHIAN newsletter
Crossing the Mason-Dixon line north into Pennsylvania (lovingly nicknamed “rock-sylvania” by many!), one enters the Greater Waynesboro Area. For thru-hikers, the psychological boost of being just miles away from the AT mid-point indeed is a positive push.
Recognized as a valuable hiker-friendly area, with 6+ trail access points, 3 nearby post offices, restaurants, grocery and retail operations, as well as B&B’s, a motel (with another one to be constructed this year), Washington Township and the borough of Waynesboro offer a wide range of amenities.
Located within a richly historic area, with Gettysburg nearby, the trail actually crosses territory that saw the second biggest conflict of the Civil War in Pennsylvania, the Battle of Monterey Pass, July 4, 1863, where Union troops clashed with the retreating Confederates, during a midnightthunderstorm miasma. A new visitor center within a mile of the Trail is now under roof and set to open this year.
Environmentally, where the Trail crosses PA Rt. 16, borders a rare “relic plant area” at the Bicentennial Tree Trail blue loop, where over 80 species of trees exist in a small riparian zone along Red Run Creek. Also nearby is the Happel’s Meadow wetland preserve, a unique mountaintop area of natural progression that supports a variety of reptiles, amphibians, songbirds, raptors, and mammals (including bobcats) as well as endangered flora. A natural trail is also within a mile of the AT.
Economically, this designation of a Trail-friendly community provides new venues of marketing and tourism. More importantly, working together as trail-savvy volunteers and professionals with the town and township’s business and governmental leaders already has opened awareness on both sides of the table. Local North Chapter club members, Tawnya Finney, Chris Firme, and Kathy Seiler have worked diligently for over a year, developing strengths in these dialogues.
Perhaps most importantly, creating education for those who live in Franklin County and who may not have yet trod past a white blaze, from the youngest in a backpack to the oldest walking gently with hiking sticks, the Appalachian Trail Community program (started in 2010) forges a link — for future caretakers & supporters of the AT, for healthier citizens, and for the amazing “footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness” — for a day-hiker, section-hiker, or thru-hiker.
On Saturday, April 26, come celebrate the recognition ceremony, along with invited local, state, and national dignitaries, including Wendy Janssen, Superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Ron Tipton, Executive Director/CEO of ATC; John Hedrick, PATC President; and Karen Lutz, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director ATC.
This major event has been folded into the community’s free Earth Celebration Day and Festival of Art, sponsored by the Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Education, located at Renfrew Park and Museum, 1010 E. Main St., Waynesboro. Earth Day events run from 11 – 4, including environmental exhibits, artist booths, music, student displays, food stand (usual fare but also “Ploughman’s Lunch” – slice of thick bread, cheese, and apple tucked inside a cloth napkin), children’s activities, and drum circle (at 3 p.m.). A recycle/reuse yard sale starts at 9 a.m. (www.renfrewinstitute.org)
AT related displays will include the AT Museum (located in Pine Grove Furnace), The American Chestnut Foundation (which reaches out to PATC & ATC members to help with their yearly census), a “Meet the Hikers” area for interaction with thru-hikers and local trail “regulars” and angels, local hike information, ATC and PATC maps and materials, children/family hikes along Renfrew’s wooded trails, Franklin County Tourism (the day is also a “Spring into History” self-guided car tour for the county!), local businesses with hiker-friendly wares, Scout troops, Antietam Watershed Association with a Streamside Pinball game from Cacapon Institute, and Blue Ridge Summit Postmaster with the “Hiker Supply” box supplied by the local Girl Scouts — feel free to bring a donation! (toothpaste, energy bars, and duct tape are the most popular!)
The Appalachian Trail Community ceremony begins at 12:30. In case of rain, the alternate location is at Waynesboro Area Middle School, 702 E. Second St., not far from the Park. For more information about the previous 30 trail communities, see:
Check out Appalachiantrail.com’s blog too.
Sherri grew up near the Appalachian Trail and often encountered hikers who came to her home seeking directions or other aid. With her church, Valley View Baptist in Sugar Grove, so near the trail, she recognized the potential for its members to help the hikers and share the gospel.
On the Saturday following Trail Days in Damascus, they hosted a hiker feed, which has grown every year.
Then, they expanded their mission to include trail magic, leaving a box at a trail intersection with snacks and bottled water. Last year, Jerry said, more than 1,000 hikers signed their register.
“It’s just an act of kindness,” he said. “We want to encourage people to be trail angels.” Jerry said people shouldn’t think of the hikers as bums. Many, he said, are professionals or college students.
Read more of this: Posted from http://www.tricities.com/swvatoday/news/smyth_county/article_cfc0e6f2-2077-11e3-8d48-001a4bcf6878.html
Contact: Katie-Palmer House FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Harpers Ferry, WV (June 06, 2013) – The Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community is a new distinction for the two Towns of Dover and Pawling, New York. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), along with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NY-NJTC) invites the public to attend the official Appalachian Trail Community™ designation on June 15, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. The two communities, sharing the name the Harlem Valley A.T. Community, will hold a ceremony at the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Boardwalk on Route 22.This event is free and open to the public.
“The Harlem Valley portion of the A.T. is a microcosm of the A.T.’s enigmatic beauty,” said Katie Palmer-House, Town of Dover Town Clerk, “from its pristine vista to the delicate yet resilient flora of the valley bottom. If you get to visit the A.T. just once in your lifetime, the Harlem Valley A.T. segment is a jewel in the A.T. crown.”
Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson said, “Dover and Pawling deserve great credit for their cross-border collaboration to win this honor. They are clearly taking the high road – transcending partisanship and territoriality to support one of this nation’s great recreational resources – the Appalachian Trail.” And collaboration is indeed what it took to receive this distinction.
The Appalachian Trail Community™ is a program of the ATC, the nonprofit responsible for the management and protection of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Working with a growing network of trailside community partners, the program recognizes and thanks communities for their part in promoting the A.T. as an important local and national asset as well as an international icon. “The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate and partner with communities that are helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” said Julie Judkins, Resource Program Manager for the ATC.
Stancy DuHamel co-chaired the working group responsible for the application, which has representatives from both town governments, four public and private schools and businesses, local and regional organizations. “A strong team came together, working countless hours over the last year, showing a collective enthusiasm for the project.”
Becky Thornton, President of Dutchess Land Conservancy (DLC), noted the importance of protecting the assets provided by the A.T., “These Towns have demonstrated their commitment to protecting the Trail and its surrounding viewshed as an important natural resource, as an asset that contributes to the community’s sense of place and scenic landscape, and as a backbone for future linkages to other trail networks in the community. For many years, DLC and partners have been working to protect the land along Trail, and we are proud to have actively supported this well-deserved designation.”
“Growing up in the Hudson Valley, I have a deep love and respect for the beauty of our landscape and rich history that surrounds us. This partnership between Dover and Pawling to promote and preserve our section of the Appalachian Trail with its official designation will only serve to benefit our area in the years to come. I am proud of the cooperation this represents and the extraordinary efforts of my constituents to collaborate and gain this recognition,” said Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19), who will speak at the event on the 15th.
“This designation will bring even greater recreation opportunities to for both residents and tourists alike, enhancing our ability to promote Dutchess County as a world class destination for outdoor and heritage enthusiasts”, said County Executive Marc Molinaro, who contributed one of the over 30 Letters of Support that were submitted with application.
Honored guests and speakers at this event will include U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson, Wendy Janssen, Superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Mark Wenger, Executive Director/CEO of the ATC; Karen Lutz, Regional Director of the ATC; Ryan Courtien, Town of Dover Supervisor; Dave Kelly, Town of Pawling Supervisor; Mary Kay Vrba, Executive Director of Dutchess County Tourism; Edward Goodell, Executive Director of the NY-NJTC, and Karin Roux, Dutchess Land Conservancy Senior Land Projects Manager.
“This program has already initiated connections with an expanded network of organizations and citizens of these two Harlem Valley towns and is poised to engender even greater connections between the hiking and conservation communities and the two towns,” stated Ron Rosen representative of the NY-NJTC.
The event will begin at noon at the A.T. Boardwalk in Pawling, NY, and will feature music from Jay Erickson of Red Rooster, Interpretative Hikes, and “Trails to Every Classroom” (TTEC) activities for kids, youth and families. Exhibitors will set up at 2pm, and will feature displays from partners such as DLC, Crown Maple, Mid-Hudson Trout Unlimited and Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS).
Dover Knolls enjoys being a neighbor to the Trail as well, and “…believes it is a tremendous asset for redeveloping the abandoned state property,” stated Kathleen Schibanoff of Dover Knolls Development Co. II, LLC. The company is looking forward to creating a new economy based on the region’s natural beauty and attractions.
“Metro-North Railroad congratulates Pawling and Dover Plains on being named an Appalachian Trail Community,” said Railroad President Howard Permut. “The railroad has long supported the hiking community and in 1990 built a station on the Harlem Line were the tracks transect the Appalachian Trail in Dutchess County, NY. We also provide rail access to hiking trails at Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park. These hiking stops make it possible for someone who lives in New York City to be in the wilderness, on the Appalachian Trail, in under two hours.”
New York State Senator Terry Gipson noted the shared values of Dover and Pawling. “These towns have interwoven within their comprehensive plans the Appalachian Trail corridor and its many contributions to the region’s environment and identity. Dover and Pawling each value the Trail as an economic asset as well as a vital piece of a larger natural infrastructure that ties together Dutchess County through agriculture, environmental resources, historical preservation and tourism. It is also a unique place with regard to the A.T. as a whole: it is the only section of the entire Trail with its own train stop, thereby maximizing the number of visitors who can experience its unique environmental heritage,”
Additional quotes from partners:
Ryan Courtien, Supervisor, Town of Dover, NY
Working with great volunteers from Dover, the Town Government has made the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community (HVATC) a top priority highlighting all our area has to offer.
Jim Haggett, Chair, Dutchess/Putnam Appalachian Trail Management Committee
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a jewel in America’s National Park System. It is wonderful to have the Harlem Valley designated as one of two dozen communities up and down the eastern U.S. that help define the trail experience and draws so many people to the AT. Further, speaking for all the local trail volunteers, we are greatly appreciative of the support given by Pawling and Dover in our efforts to maintain this recreational resource
David Kelly, Supervisor, Town of Pawling, NY
Pawling Supervisor David Kelly, speaking of the HVATC designation said “The Town of Pawling has the only rail stop along the entire Appalachian Trail. Being designated as part of the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community further strengthens Pawling’s commitment to the Appalachian Trail and all outdoor activities in general.”
Tyge Rugenstein, President, Madava Farms and Crown Maple:
Madava Farms, the Home of Crown Maple, is excited for the opportunities the designation of the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community will bring the Towns of Dover and Pawling. The designation will obviously help attract hikers and visitors to our area so they too can enjoy our awe inspiring vistas, serene plains, and beautiful marshlands.
Kealy Salomon, Commissioner, Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development
Dutchess County congratulates Dover and Pawling for their designation as an “AT Community.” Theirs is the first joint designation, and is consistent with the Dutchess County Greenway Compact that supports trail connections among all our communities. The designation will support our overall efforts to increase tourism, expand economic development and support healthy outdoor activities.
Pete Muroski – President of Native Landscapes and Garden Center, Co-Chair of HVATC Advisory Committee
As part of the Appalachian Trail corridor, Native Landscapes and Garden Center is proud to be part of the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community. The areas natural beauty, native flora, diverse ecosystem and easy access makes Pawling and Dover a popular section along the Appalachian Trail. Come walk in our woods and enjoy our natural community.
Mike Tierney, Superintendent of Schools, Dover UFSD:
As a Superintendent, I recognize the necessity of providing a well-rounded education for all students. It is my belief that education outside the classroom through hands-on experiences such as hiking the Appalachian Trail enables students and adults alike to put what they have learned into action. By fostering well-rounded students, our community can only reap the benefits. I offer my thanks to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for dedicating Dover and Pawling as a Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community.”
Mary Kay Vrba, Executive Director, Dutchess County Tourism:
The Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail community will continue to enhance the visitors experience both on the trail and in the surrounding communities. Visitors will come where they are welcomed and when communities join together to make things happen people experience a great sense of place and are drawn to come back again and again.
Chris Wood, Chair, Oblong Land Conservancy
This is a real feather in the cap of Pawling and Dover who have collaborated closely to achieve this coveted award. The Appalachian Trail Community Designation signifies an understanding of the importance of conservation in its widest context. We at OLC look forward to playing our part in promoting the benefits of this designation.
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. The A.T. is a unit of the National Park System, stretching from Georgia to Maine, at approximately 2,180 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours of their time doing trail-related work each year, and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year.
About the 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. For more information about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
About the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is a federation of member clubs and individuals dedicated to providing recreational hiking opportunities in the region and representing the interests and concerns of the hiking community. The Conference is a volunteer-directed public service organization committed to:
- Developing, building, and maintaining hiking trails;
- Protecting hiking trail lands through support and advocacy;
- Educating the public in the responsible use of trails and the natural environment.
A.T. Community Program Contact: Julie Judkins
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 828.254.3708 x11