Waynesboro designated an Appalachian Trail Community Town joins two others in state as noted waypoints on 2,000-mile trail

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:

http://www.publicopiniononline.com/local/ci_25572716/waynesboro-designated-an-appalachian-trail-community

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Greater Waynesboro Area: NEWEST APPALACHIAN TRAIL COMMUNITY TO BE CELEBRATED

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:

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/what-we-do/community-engagement/appalachian-trail-communities

Waynesboro Approved as Appalachian Trail Community

Waynesboro is an ‘Appalachian Trail Community’

Waynesboro, Pa.

The greater Waynesboro area has been designated as an “Appalachian Trail Community.”According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, “…participation in the program is designed to act as a catalyst for enhancing economic development, engaging community citizens as trail visitors and stewards, aiding local municipalities and regional areas with conservation planning and helping local community members see the trail as a resource and asset.”

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.

“This is a win-win situation for both the hikers and our community,” Seiler explained. “We have great support services and many places to access the trail. We were pleased to receive an unanimous vote at the meeting.”“The residents of this town are very ‘hiker friendly,’” Fleagle said. “It’s not uncommon to hear stories about them picking up hikers who are passing through the area and driving them for food, mail or a place to sleep.

This new designation will help make people more aware of Waynesboro as a welcoming destination, literally putting us on the map.”As part of the application process, an advisory committee was formed to provide evidence of community support for the Appalachian Trail. The greater Waynesboro area must also host an annual volunteer project, event or celebration of the trail.

ATC’s Trail to Every Classroom professional development program, which provides educators with the tools and training they need for service-learning and place-based education on the Appalachian Trail, already has 16 “alumni” from Waynesboro.The designation will officially be recognized at Renfrew Institute’s Earth Celebration Day in April.

Signs, media support and publications distributed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will all provide higher awareness and visibility for both visitors and residents.An idea originally conceived in the 1920s, the Appalachian Trail spans approximately 2,200 miles from Maine to Georgia. Other towns with the official “Community” designation include Duncannon and Boiling Springs in Pennsylvania and Harpers Ferry in West Virginia.

Read more: http://www.therecordherald.com/article/20131109/NEWS/131109877/1020/SPORTS#ixzz2kXwGoFRi