Presidential Ponderings

  • PDF

January, 2014

Traditionally, a new year is the time for us all to assess the year past and make a list of resolutions for the coming year.  As the GATC moves into 2014, it is good to reflect on three things:  where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going.


In the past few months, as I have prepared for my term as GATC president, I’ve been trying to become more familiar with the workings of the organization.  Part of that has included a look back at the history of the club, and not just the recent history, but all the way back to the beginning.  It has been astonishing to me to realize all that has been accomplished since the club’s onset – things that I took for granted when I first joined the club and started hiking on its trails. These include:  an established, well-maintained trail; a trail corridor protected from encroaching development; a chain of shelters, privies, and bridges; signs and blazes to mark the way; a smooth running and well-organized club structure.  None of this came easily, but was acquired through the sweat and passion of volunteers just like us, who put their all into establishing, protecting and preserving the AT here in Georgia. Like us, a love for the outdoors and hiking is what motivated them, and the result is an enduring legacy for us and future generations to enjoy.  We owe a great debt to all those men and women who have gone before us, and we have a great responsibility to continue the good work they have begun.

As I look at where we are today, I am happy to say that because of the continued dedication of club members, the GATC is in better shape than ever, and has expanded its focus to include: reaching out to communities along the trail as well as youth; educating the public about this great national treasure; and working to conserve the natural environment surrounding it.  Our membership is stronger than ever, with almost 800 members. Their commitment is evident, as a typical third Saturday worktrip will yield more than enough maintainers to get the job done.  There are numerous behind-the-scenes volunteers doing the many, many jobs needed to keep us moving along, such as: organizing hikes for school groups, writing grants, keeping historical records, updating the database, giving talks to educate civic and school groups, keeping up with club finances, working on the website, monitoring rare plants, cutting blowdowns along the trail, planning and leading hikes, clearing waterbars on their section of trail, and the list goes on and on. We are in good shape financially, because of the frugality and stewardship of our board members.  Our partnerships with numerous trail and conservation organizations are solid, due to a mutual love for the natural world and a shared commitment to its preservation. Working cooperatively with the US Forest Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and others is of vital importance, and we are thankful for their continued support.

This coming year promises to keep us moving forward by continuing to focus on what is most important to us – maintenance of the trail – while expanding to include new ideas and projects.  A few things to look forward to this year include:  a full schedule of hikes, backpacks, and other activities to keep us outdoors and active; a trail maintenance schedule that includes a Konnarock Grassy Gap relocation of the trail, coordinating at least two Alternate Spring Break college groups, as well as regular monthly trail upkeep; an expanded program of youth hikes and Hike Inn overnight trips, thanks to the $10,000 grant awarded to our Outreach Committee; a yearlong celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, including a public event in September and hikes and stewardship projects dedicated to celebrating wilderness; and an exciting, new grant program funded by AT License plate tag money that will be available for trail improvement projects; a website upgrade, making our site even more informative and interactive.

I promise to do my part in the execution of these plans, and I’m excited to see what else the new year brings.  I would like to ask all of you to contact me to share your ideas and suggestions on ways we can improve things, and will make it my goal to help and encourage all our volunteers in any way I can.  I am proud to be able to a GATC member and proud of all of you for your dedication and commitment.

Happy Trails,

Beth Rothermel

 

 

Shelly Rose, President

December, 2013

 

This will be my last column as GATC president.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as president for the past 3 years.  I remember how nervous I was before taking the position and I could not have anticipated how rewarding and meaningful the job turned out to be.

I want to thank the GATC board members and other volunteers who show such dedication and commitment to our organization.  It is amazing to me the amount of work we are able to accomplish, led and carried out completely by volunteers.  People were always ready to say “yes” anytime I asked.

 

I am very proud of the work we accomplished together over the past 3 years.  The Blood Mountain Shelter reroof was a highlight, including partnering with the Back Country Horseman Association (and others); and getting the shelter listed on the National Register of Historic Places this year was the icing on the cake.  We also undertook a restructuring of the board and implementing changes to the by-laws, something that had not been done in over 25 years.

 

GATC served as one of the local club sponsors for the biennial this year.  It was a successful endeavor with each of the local maintaining clubs receiving $8600 in revenue from the venture.  And of course, our success in getting the A.T. license tag produced and revenue sharing passed will provide the A.T. in Georgia with a steady source of income for many years.

 

In addition, we signed a new five-year volunteer service agreement with the Forest Service which provides better protection for GATC volunteers as we carry out our work.  We continue to play a crucial role with CoTrails, the Forest Service initiative to bring all users of the national forest together to create and maintain sustainable trails.

 

We welcomed 5 new AT communities in Georgia over the past 3 years, including Dahlonega; Blairsville/Union County; Hiawassee/ Young Harris/ Towns County in 2011; . Ellijay/Gilmer County and Helen/White County were added in 2012.

 

Finally, congratulations to the Outreach Committee and to all of us!  On October 23, GATC received the highest award from the Georgia Natural Gas TrueBlue Awards program – a $10,000 grant for our outreach program.  This award is concrete recognition of the important work that GATC is doing with young people to introduce them to the A.T., to help them appreciate the natural world, and to instill in them a love of the outdoors and conservation ethics-- and now we can do so much more.

 

I am so honored to have had the opportunity to serve as president over the past 3 years.  GATC is in great hands with Beth Rothermel, incoming president, and the 2014 board of directors.  I look forward to continuing to volunteer and work with each of you in the future.  Now I will finally have time to actually …

 

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC 2013 President

 

 

November, 2013


Next month it will be time for the annual GATC holiday party on December 7.  I hope you will join me for this fun, relaxing social time to catch up with old friends, make new friends, install the new board of directors and recognize several steadfast volunteers.

 

For several years, I have been a natural resource monitor for GATC and the A.T., monitoring rare plants that grow along the A.T.  This program has been reorganized and revitalized under the direction of John Odell with the SORO (Southern Region) office of the ATC.  John and his counterpart for the northern region of the A.T. gave a very informative workshop at the biennial last summer that focused on plant phenology (the lifecycle of a plant over a period of time) and invasive plants.  John led a workshop on invasive plants at the annual business meeting.  Since the publication deadline for the Bulletin is before the meeting, I’ll share more about that in my next column.  If you are interested in natural resource monitoring, contact GATC Conservation Director David Stelts.

 

One of the plants I monitored in the past was the American chestnut.  While at the biennial, I attended another workshop that focused on the efforts of the American Chestnut Foundation to develop a new strain of the American chestnut that will be resistant to the blight that decimated the chestnut forests in the eastern U.S. earlier in the last century.  This was a fascinating workshop about how they have bred the American chestnut with the blight-resistant Chinese chestnut over a period of cycles to come up with a strain that is 94% American AND appears resistant to the blight.

 

Our southern forests now face a new threat with the hemlock woolly adelgid that threatens the hemlock forests that are so pervasive throughout the southern Appalachians and up into New England.  The loss of these trees will cause major ecosystem changes to our forests.  Efforts to control the pest have met with limited success and scientists are also looking at whether developing a hybrid hemlock could create a species that will be resistant to the adelgid.  There are organizations working on these efforts.  If you want more information let me know.

 

Fall is a great time of year to be out on the trail – cool, crisp days, changing leaves, clear views.  So I hope to …

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

October, 2013


Congratulations to the six GATC members who received the National Park Service Silver Service Award for 25 years of active service to the A.T.  This award was bestowed during the ATC biennial in July however, we are presenting the honors at the GATC annual business meeting on October 12. I hope you will join us as we recognize members Jud Germon, Dick Hurd, Darleen Jarman, Martha Miller, Bruce Northrop and Shelley Rose.  In addition, new Chattahoochee-Oconee Forest Supervisor Betty Mathews will speak to us and we have invited Georgia Representatives John Carson and Mike Dudgeon to recognize them for the work they did to pass the A.T. tag revenue sharing legislation.

 

October 26 will be a busy day for all A.T. lovers.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is hosting Appalachian Impressions, a film about hiking the A.T., as part of their 2013 membership drive.  The screening will take place from 11:00am - 1:30pm at Landmark Theatres – Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta.


Also on October 26, the fall meeting of the ATC Regional Partnership Committee will be held in Asheville, NC.  The RPC is an advisory organization that serves as the communications link between trail-maintaining clubs, ATC’s regional offices, the Stewardship Council, and ATC’s Board of Directors, as well as with agency and community partners.  Club members are welcome to attend.  Let me or our RPC representative Keith Moses know if you’d like more information.

 

The third event taking place on October 26 is the CoTrails Volunteer Recognition picnic where all trail volunteers will be honored for the hours they have contributed to trail work whether on hiking, horse, mountain bike or ATV trails.  You can contact Gary Monk or me for more information about this.

 

You may have read in the newspaper last spring that there are changes taking place at several Georgia State Parks, including Amicalola.  The park is now under private management through the authority of the Georgia Mountains Authority.  A group of GATC members met with the new management in July to make sure they are aware of GATC’s role in maintaining the Approach Trail and our work on the A.T. Exhibit at the Visitor’s Center and our relationship with and interest in the Hike Inn.  The park manager and resource manager have been working at Amicalola for many years and are already familiar with the work we do.  It was a very productive meeting and we have every reason to believe our good working relationship with them will continue.

 

Hope to see you at the October 12 Annual Business Meeting.

 

Til then, see you on the trail.
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

 

September, 2013


I just returned from the AT Biennial conference in western North Carolina.  It was a great conference in a beautiful area – and so close to Georgia!  I attended some interesting workshops on invasive plants and plant phenology and one on restoration of the American Chestnut.  I went on a beautiful hike on the A.T. from Clingman’s Dome to Newfound Gap.  It was particularly lush with ferns after all the rain they’ve had this summer and the turk’s cap lilies were in full bloom.  There were a lot of GATC members attending the conference so it felt like old-home-week reconnecting with everyone.  GATC was one of the host clubs and played a major role in organizing the conference.  Thanks to Elizabeth Marsala, Jay Dement, Maureen Donohue and Todd Gordon for serving on the steering committee for the conference.

 

Congratulations to Bob Almand who received Honorary Membership in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for his many years of service on the ATC board including the past six years as chair.  This award has been bestowed on only 54 people in the entire history of ATC.

We also had a chance to meet the new ATC executive director, Ron Tipton, who begins his job in August.  We’re all looking forward to getting to know him.  In addition, ATC elected a new board member from Atlanta, Greg Winchester.

 

The ATC Southern Regional Office (SORO) just announced that Leanna Joyner will join the staff  as Trail Resources Manager (replacing Andrew Downs).  In this new position she will direct the southern A.T. Ridge Runner, trail crew, volunteer training and trail assessment programs.

 

I am excited to let you know that GATC member and Community Outreach Director Tom Ottinger has been appointed to the ATC Stewardship Council.  The Stewardship Council provides policy and program oversight of ATC’s conservation program, including trail and resource stewardship, land protection and community outreach.  A perfect fit for Tom.

 

I hope you will join us for the GATC annual business meeting on October 12 in Dahlonega.  In addition to some special guests and election of the new board, we will have good food and good camaraderie.  Plan to join us!  Til then,

 

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC president

 

 

August, 2013


As reported in the May issue of the Georgia Mountaineer, revenue sharing for the A.T. specialty license tag passed the Georgia General Assembly in the last session.  Now all pieces are in place for funding to begin to flow.  $10 of every tag sold or renewed will go to support the A.T. in Georgia.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy was the sponsoring organization for the tag and they will be the fiscal agent – the funds will flow through them, but all funds must be spent for the Georgia section of the trail.  GATC and ATC have signed a memorandum of agreement designating the process for how the funds can be spent. ATC should begin receiving funds from the state soon and we will publicize this information as it becomes available.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone who joined us for National Trails Day at the beginning of June.  GATC joined with the Mountain High Hikers and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association for a day of trail work, hikes and good eating.  In the morning, GATC led a trail maintenance session to do erosion control and treadway repair on park trails.  Two hikes were led in the morning as well.  Everyone gathered together for a potluck picnic at noon.  It was a lot of fun and camaraderie among the different club members.

I want to recognize the Tuesday Hikers who are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year.  See the article in the August issue of the Georgia Mountaineer for more information about this group of dedicated hikers.

As I write this column, many of us are getting ready to attend the ATC Biennial Conference in Cullowheee, NC later in July.  I will share more about my experience there in some of my next columns.

Finally, just an early heads up to put the annual business meeting on your calendar – Saturday, October 12, is the date.  More information will follow in the September bulletin.

Hope to see you on the trail,

Shelley Rose

GATC President

 

 

July, 2013

 

 

GATC held its annual meeting with the US Forest Service Chattahoochee National Forest staff in May.  Six GATC members met with staff from the Blue Ridge District office and the Chattooga River District office.  While we meet and work individually with FS staff during the year, this meeting is held each spring to review what each organization has accomplished over the past year, discuss upcoming goals and needs and to talk over any issues that need to be addressed.  This year, Trail Supervisor Don Hicks stressed the importance of the partnership between our two organizations and thanked the FS employees who we work with daily.

 

Andy Baker, the Blue Ridge District Ranger, reported that the bear canister requirement implemented last year for the A.T. between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap is working.  There have been very few reports of hiker-bear encounters this year.  The order is in effect for 5 years (2012-2017) at which point we will assess with the FS whether to continue this requirement.

We also had  a discussion about the moldering privies in Georgia.  This is an ongoing concern as the privies are filling up faster than anticipated with the thousands of hikers and thru-hikers that start in Georgia.  We are looking for a way to handle this issue.  I have had more discussions about privies than I ever thought necessary!

We just received some good news about the Blood Mountain Shelter.  It has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  While it was officially listed on January 9, 2013, we just found out at the end of May.  This is something the club has been working on for several years.

GATC hosted the Konnarock volunteer work crew for 2 weeks in May and it was another successful year.  We averaged 10 GATC volunteers each day to work with the crew.  In fact, GATC stands out as the local maintaining club who regularly provides a lot of club volunteers.  I was able to work with the crew one day and they were a great group of folks who worked really hard.  Crew leader Catherine and assistant crew leader Zak did a great job and we have a beautiful series of rock steps coming down the north side of Rocky Mountain.  I encourage you to come out next year and work with the crew.  You learn cutting-edge trail skills and meet some great people who are giving back to the trail.  And your help is needed!

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC president

June, 2013

I hope you will join GATC for National Trails Day on June 1 at Vogel State Park.  We are joining efforts with the Benton MacKaye Trail Association and the Mountain High Hikers.  There will be lots of activities, including hikes, trail maintenance and a new member orientation.  Come and be part of this national day to emphasize hiking and trails.

As you know, the ATC biennial conference will be held in Cullowhee, North Carolina, July 19-26.  GATC is one of the host clubs responsible for several major aspects of the conference including Exhibits, Publicity, Sales/Souvenirs, and Sponsors.  Elizabeth Marsala and a team of people have been working hard for more than a year to put this conference together!  I hope you will join us at Western Carolina University – it’s a great way to meet people from all along the trail, hike new trails and participate in workshops on all aspects of trail management and maintenance.

I am happy to report that Governor Deal signed the license tag legislation the last week of April.  It goes to the State Income Tax Commissioner for review and approval before funding can be allocated. We are almost there!

I just returned from a wonderful 3-week trek to Nepal with several other GATC members.  The hiking was difficult and challenging and extremely beautiful.  It made me appreciate the trail maintenance that our club does to keep the A.T. hike-able.  It was another story there.  Just ask and I will be happy to talk about my trip…

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President


 

May, 2013

I just got back from the Southern Partnership Meeting in Hendersonville, NC.  I am thrilled that Bob Kent received the Southern Region Partner of the Year Award and Michelle Mitchell received the Agency Partner of the Year award.

More good news is that the A.T. specialty license tag that we have been working on for several years has finally passed the legislature and it looks like the A.T. will benefit with $10 of each tag sale or renewal  supposed to go towards the A.T. in Georgia.

Plan to join GATC members along with members of other local maintaining clubs and ATC members for the ATC biennial, July 19-26 and taking place in Cullowhee NC at Western Carolina University.  Early bird registration ends May 31 so sign up now to get the best hikes.  They are also still looking for volunteers so check out the website to register or volunteer at www.appalachiantrail.org/2013Biennial

Many of you who have done trail maintenance recognize the name of Andrew Downs.  He has been with the Southern Regional Office of the ATC for several years and has overseen the Konnarock program and the Ridgerunner and Caretaker.  Andrew has just been promoted to Regional Director of the Central & SW Virginia Regional Office.  We will miss him here in the Deep South but are glad that ATC will continue to benefit from his experience and expertise.  Good luck in your new position, Andrew!

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

April, 2013


As I write this month’s column, GATC is about to host four college spring break crews during the month of March.  It is gratifying to me that we have 3 schools who return year after year to provide a volunteer crew to work on the Georgia trail.  Palm Beach Atlantic, University of New Hampshire and University of Illinois-Chicago are all returning schools and are joined this year by University of Missouri students.  They do a lot of work from carrying chips in for the privies to improving the treadway to privy parties!  Many thanks go to the club members who lead the student crews and to Olin & Beverly Batchelor for home hospitality for all the students.  GATC members provide training and guidance and are helping build the next generation of trail maintainers.

Spring also means it is time for the GATC Nominating Committee to begin recruiting new officers for the 2014 board of directors.  As of press time, the committee had not been approved by the board but should be in place by the time you read this.  If you are interested in serving in a leadership position for GATC – or want to recommend someone – please let me or Nominating Chair Frank Wright know.

Also at press time I can report that there has been positive movement for House Bill 104 to approve revenue sharing for the A.T. license tag.  A bill introduced by Representatives John Carson and Mike Dudgeon was passed by the Motor Vehicle Committee and awaits approval in the Rules Committee to be voted on by the full House.  By the time you read this, we should know whether this legislation has passed or whether we will need to continue working on it for the next legislative session.  Updates will be shared through the Yahoo Group and on the website.

Spring is one of my favorite times of year for hiking.  Wildflowers will be in profusion in the mountains soon.  Sign up early for GATC hikes as they tend to fill up fast with the nice weather.  Perhaps I will...

See you on the trail!
Shelley Rose, GATC President


 

March, 2013

The Membership Committee held the first New Member Orientation of 2013 in January.  We had a big turnout and the prospective members were coming out the door.  This is one of the 3 requirements people must meet to become an active GATC member.  It is so gratifying to see the enthusiastic interest from new people in becoming involved with GATC.   Their reasons are varied – from people looking for others to hike with because they don’t want to hike alone to former thru-hikers who want to give back to the trail to those folks who have heard about the A.T. and are just curious.  Several current GATC board members were there to welcome these prospective members and give them an overview of our club’s history, mission and activities.  Many of us talked about how we have met lifelong friends through our participation in GATC and though we may have joined for one specific reason, we have become involved in many aspects of the club.

Many of you have purchased a Georgia specialty license tag recognizing the A.T.  The production of the tag was authorized a couple of years ago and we have been working to get revenue sharing for the tag since then.  Currently all the tag money goes back to the state for general revenues.  Getting a bill passed to allow revenue sharing would mean that the A.T. in Georgia would receive $10 for each tag sold or renewed.  It has been a difficult endeavor to get this legislation moving with the current economy.  We continue to work on this and if you would like to be part of the effort please let me know.

If you have been to Amicalola State Park Visitor Center in the last few years you will have seen the GATC display on the history of the A.T. in Georgia.  The park recently began renovating the visitor center and we have updated the display.  Herb Daniel, Jerry Seabolt and Van Hill first took down and then reinstalled the A.T. exhibit with the addition of a continuous slide show of around 300 A. T. photos on an electronic photo frame.  The renovated visitor center is supposed to reopen in February so stop by and see the new addition.

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President


February, 2013

GATC is focusing on two main priorities these days – trail maintenance and youth outreach.  Both are very important elements to the long-term health and future of the club.

 

Of course, trail maintenance has always been a main focus of the club’s work.  We know how easy a trail can erode or get overgrown without regular maintenance.  Trails Supervisor Don Hicks recently sent an email to the yahoo group asking for volunteers to “adopt” a one-mile segment as a trail section overseer.  By involving so many members to take ownership of the trail, Georgia is able to maintain its reputation as one of the best-maintained sections on the A.T.  Section overseers are asked to make independent trips to their section 4 times a year to do regular maintenance – lopping weeds, cleaning waterbars, reporting major work that is needed.  We can use additional overseers so if you are interested please contact Don.

 

Our GATC youth outreach effort is a more recent focus of the Club’s activities.  We have introduced hundreds of young people to the A.T. and given them an introduction to trail stewardship and conservation ethics.  The Outreach Committee has taken students in grades 3-12 in four North Georgia counties, as well as Atlanta students in partnership with the Phoenix Boys Association and Latino youth in cooperation with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light.  GATC’s programs work alongside and in partnership with A Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC), ATC’s youth education program which integrates hands-on study of Appalachian Trail resources in local communities.  Through a one year-long school-wide program, 600+ students and teachers explored many facets of the A.T. and National Forest.  If you are interested in helping with this effort please contact Community Outreach Director Tom Ottinger.

 

GATC continues to be a leader and role model for both trail maintenance and youth outreach for the entire A.T. community.  I hope to see you on the trail in conjunction with these efforts.

 

Shelley Rose
GATC President

January, 2013

I had the pleasure of attending the Helen/White County A.T. Trail Community ceremony in Helen on November 30.  Helen is the fifth A.T. community in Georgia, joining Dahlonega, Blairsville/Union County, Hiawassee/Towns County, and Ellijay/Gilmer County.  The local community turned out to celebrate along with over 20 GATC members. David Greear provided some archival photographs of GATC members from the 30s and 40s.  GATC held its annual meetings at Greear Lodge, his grandparents’ (and now his) home.  He had some wonderful photographs from those meetings and from club trips.  David invited everyone back to Greear Lodge after the ceremony for lunch and camaraderie and he recreated the 1931 photo with the GATC members and other guests present.  It was a highlight of the day.

I just got back from the GATC annual holiday party where it was so much fun to reconnect with long-time members who don’t hike as much any longer, as well as to welcome new members and guests.  It was a delight to hear from new ATC executive director Mark Wenger who shared with us his enthusiasm for the A.T., his appreciation of volunteers and local clubs and his vision for the future of the organization.  National Park Service awards and CoTrails awards were given to many GATC members for the extensive volunteer hours contributed by club members. And of course, we installed the new board of directors for 2013.

As I begin my third (and final!) year as president, I am just as excited as I was the first year … and a little less nervous.  It is an honor to serve in this position and work with such dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.  I hope I can continue to serve you well in 2013.

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC  President

December, 2012

I felt a sense of pride at the annual business meeting in October as we recognized all the accomplishments of GATC during the past year – completion of the Blood Mountain Shelter project; adding Ellijay/Gilmer County as the fourth A.T. community in Georgia; election of the 2013 board of directors; a great partnership with the Chattahoochee National Forest and much more. With 749 members and 89 prospective members, GATC is going strong. That is confirmed by the amount of volunteer time GATC members contributed toward our work this year – 19,900 hours. It is an impressive accomplishment and shows the commitment and dedication GATC members have toward the A.T.

Carlos Martel, chair of the CoTrails working group, joined us at our annual meeting and spoke about the progress made by this group over the past year. Later in October, The Forest Service hosted a picnic for CoTrails and all volunteers in the Forest who had contributed more than 20 hours of work. Several GATC members were recognized for the hundreds of hours of work they have done on the trail. Don Hicks, GATC Trails Supervisor, was recognized for the most hours contributed by one person –just under 1000 hours! Of course Lawson Herron and Gary Monk were right up there too. We will recognize these volunteers (again) at the holiday party in December.

Speaking of which, I hope you will join us for the GATC holiday party on December 1. We will welcome the new executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Mark Wenger. Mark has made it a goal to visit all the 31 maintaining clubs along the A.T. While you are enjoying time with old and new friends at the holiday party, be sure to meet Mark.

As we approach winter, it is a great time for hiking! See you on the trail,

Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

November, 2012

In September I had the pleasure of attending the Ellijay/Gilmer County A.T. Community Designation Ceremony. Ellijay becomes the fourth A.T. Community in Georgia, joining Dahlonega, Blairsville/Union County and Hiawassee/Towns County. An A.T. Community is the official designation from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). The program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T. One hundred local community members came out to support this effort, joined by several GATC members, representatives from the ATC and US Forest Service staff from the Chattahoochee Forest. GATC member Gene Espy was one of the special guests who spoke about his experience as the second-ever thru hiker. With Ellijay’s designation, Georgia now has more A.T. Communities per Trail mile than any other state!

Chattahoochee-Oconee Forest Supervisor George Bain is leaving Georgia after five years to return to the northwest where he will serve as Director, Recreation, Minerals, Lands, Heritage and Wilderness in Missoula, Montana. George has been a strong advocate for GATC and the A.T. and he will be sorely missed. He is the only Forest Supervisor that has come out to work with GATC on one of our regular monthly work trips. In addition, he initiated the CoTrails working group to bring together various users of the Forest and will leave a lasting legacy in Georgia. We are waiting to hear who will be the next Forest Supervisor.

Next month it will be time for the annual GATC holiday party on December 1. I hope you will join me for this fun, relaxing social time to catch up with old friends, make new friends, install the new board of directors and recognize several steadfast volunteers.

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

October 2012
I have always commented on the strength of GATC’s organization and leadership of the volunteers with GATC.

The role of a hike leader is extremely important and hike leaders take their job seriously.  Hike leaders are really the “public face” of the Club.  We often have prospective members on hikes and this may be their first introduction to our organization. Some people have hiked very little before finding GATC so they are relying on the hike leader to be knowledgeable and helpful.

Leaders know that when they sign up to lead a hike, it will not be just “a fun hike with friends.” While of course, the hike should be fun, for the leader there is much more involved.  Not only do they plan and scout the hike in advance, they must be prepared for hikers of all abilities and help their fellow hikers as needed.  They know to lead a pace that works for the group and appoint a “sweep” so people in the back feel safe and comfortable.  Naturally, they are also friendly and welcoming.

The importance of following these procedures diligently was evident on a recent hike.  One member of the group was lagging behind and the leader stayed with him.  He did not look well, walked slower and slower, and finally had to stop.  The leader made the decision to call EMTs who met them at the trailhead and took the hiker to the local hospital where they determined he was badly dehydrated and admitted him overnight.  The leader dealt with the situation appropriately and all turned out fine for the hiker.  It shows that the leader was prepared and used common sense to deal with an unexpected and potentially dangerous situation.

I encourage new members to co-lead a hike with an experienced hike leader and then volunteer to lead a hike yourself.  However, I hope each of you that agrees to lead a hike will take your responsibilities seriously.  There will be a hike leader training after the business meeting on October 13 and I encourage those of you who are thinking of leading to participate.  GATC wants to put more emphasis on training of hike leaders.  We are planning to offer additional workshops for club leaders to review leader duties and a wilderness first aid course as well.

I look forward to seeing folks at our annual business meeting. Please join us as we vote in the new Board of Directors for 2013.

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

September 2012

Please join me for the annual GATC Business Meeting on October 13 in Dahlonega.  I have invited Carlos Martel, chair of the CoTrails working group to speak to us about the work of this group. Over the past year I have forwarded information about meetings and events hosted by this group whose mission is to provide a diverse, quality trail experience that is maintainable and ecological. This has been an unprecedented coming together of various users of trails and GATC has been integrally involved in the process.  Come hear more about the work this group is undertaking and how you can be involved.

In addition, the membership will vote on the nomination slate for the 2013 board of directors. This board will implement the changes that we voted on last October.  It incorporates a Communications Director and Community Outreach Director onto the board. The meeting won’t be all “work” however; we also will have great fellowship and (as always when it comes to GATC) food!  I hope to see you there.

Once again I want to commend Bulletin Editor Rick Hartline and Photo Committee Chair Van Hill for the latest e-version of the Mountaineer.  The changes they have made to the e-bulletin are very exciting and really showcase the club and our work.  If you are not receiving the E-Mountaineer, you are missing out!

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

August, 2012

If you haven’t been to the GATC website lately, check it out at www.georgia-atclub.org.  We have recently unveiled our updated website as we continue to make changes to keep up-to-date with the latest in technology and web design. Congratulations to Lisa Williams and her website committee of Ali Ansari, Jason Bone, Sherry Bryant, Mary Grybeck, Van Hill and Ryan Thibodeau for the work they put into making this transition.  A lot of the changes are “behind the scenes” but you will find the website easy to navigate and the calendar is back!

GATC had its annual meeting with the USFS in Gainesville early in June.  We had nine GATC members represent us at the meeting with our FS partners.  This is an important meeting for GATC to review successful projects from the past year and bring up items that need to be addressed moving forward.  We reviewed the success of the reroofing of the Blood Mountain Shelter as well as the Blood Mountain camping closure and bear canister special order.  We will reconvene our working group this fall to further assess how this program is working.  Don Hicks gave a very informative Trail Maintenance presentation, reporting on several upcoming projects that GATC plans to undertake.  In addition we will put together a group to work with the FS to update the AT kiosks.

In August I will be attending the ATC Leadership meeting in Shepherdstown, WV.  In its old configuration, the Appalachian Trail Conference held a President’s meeting for the leaders of all the local clubs.  Since its transition to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, this meeting has been on hold.  This year, ATC is bringing back the meeting to bring together volunteer leaders from the local clubs all along the trail.  The idea is to provide useful information on the cooperative management system, share information among clubs and provide volunteer leadership training.  I will report on the meeting when I return.

Finally, just an early heads up to put the annual business meeting on your calendar – Saturday, October 13, is the date.  More information in the next bulletin.

Hope to see you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

July, 2012

The GATC board had a leadership development retreat in early May to focus on how we can more effectively work together as a team and use volunteers. It was a productive and successful day.  As one board member commented, “Great program. I thought it brought unity to the board members present. I know it gave me better insight for my job.” I want to thank GATC member Elizabeth Marsala who generously donated her time to facilitate and lead the retreat. Elizabeth has a background in organizational development and did a great job “corralling the cats.” I also want to thank the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area at Island Ford for donating the meeting space for the retreat. If you haven’t been to this site I encourage you to visit it. They have a nice visitors’ center and some good hikes along the Chattahoochee River.

There are lots of volunteer opportunities for GATC members to engage in. Would you like to help on one of the committees? Do you want to help plan the 2013 ATC Biennial that will take place in Cullowhee, NC next summer? Please let me know if you want to be involved and I will connect you with the board member or committee chair who will be glad to get your involvement.

I mentioned in an earlier column that I attended the ATC Southern Partnership Meeting in Virginia back in April. I am delighted to announce that John Campbell, Dispersed Recreation Program Manager for Trails, Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers with the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, received the ATC Agency Partner of the Year Award. This award recognizes an individual who is an Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) agency management partner who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the Trail and/or ATC.  Since John was not able to attend the SPM, ATC and GATC presented him with the award at our annual meeting with the FS in Gainesville in June.

Konnarock, the ATC volunteer work crew, was in Georgia to work on the AT in May – thanks to Don Hicks and Tom Ottinger and all who came out to work with the crew. In addition to many GATC volunteers, 15 Mountain High Hikers joined us on their regular monthly work trip. The crew built about 75 rock steps in about a mile of trail on Rocky Mountain going south from Indian Grave Gap. I worked with them the first weekend and saw for myself what an expert job they did. They will be back next year to continue work on this project.

Lots going on with GATC. Hope to see you on the Trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

June 2012

 

In April several GATC members and I attended the Southern Partnerships Meeting that ATC hosts each spring. This is an annual retreat where the Southern Regional Office of ATC (SORO), maintaining clubs from VA, TN, NC and GA, USFS partners and other state agency partners gather to share information and discuss issues affecting the AT. This meeting was combined with the Regional Partnership Committee meeting.  The conference was held near Pembroke, Virginia at Mountain Lake Resort. (Alas there was no lake here due to unusual geological conditions.) We heard from agency partners on their accomplishments over the past year. The RPC meeting dealt with policy issues, the next ATC biennial – Cullowhee 2013, new AT communities and other issues impacting the management of the AT.

 

Volunteer awards were presented and I am proud to say that GATC member Donnie Kelley received the “Partner of the Year” award for the Southern Region for all the work he has done with Trails to Every Classroom and GATC Outreach Committee to bring students in his school to the A.T. The conference was a good chance to meet leaders of other maintaining clubs as well as get to know our Forest Service partners in a casual setting. It was a very productive time. These meetings are open to GATC members so if you are interested in attending a future meeting, please let me know.

 

The NEXT ATC biennial conference will be held in Cullowhee, North Carolina in 2013. GATC is one of the host clubs and planning is well underway. We are responsible for several major aspects of the conference including Exhibits, Publicity, Sales/Souvenirs, and Sponsors. Elizabeth Marsala and a small group of people have agreed to take the lead on these responsibilities and they need a lot of help! If you are interested in working with us to plan this conference contact Elizabeth or me.

 

Lisa Williams and the website committee have been working to update and upgrade the GATC website. It will be more user-friendly and easier for GATC to maintain. Look for the updated site to be unveiled soon.

 

See you on the trail,
Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

 

May 2012

 

You may have seen that the AT license tag has a new look. We were notified in the fall that we could create a visual graphic that extended across the entire plate. New GATC member Jeff Supper volunteered to transform the original design to the current one. We all owe him a big THANKS for creating such an eye-catching design. Thanks also goes to Scott Barnes for spearheading the effort to get the tag in Georgia. We worked hard during the legislative session to secure revenue sharing so that the AT would receive a portion of the money spent for the tags – but were unsuccessful for the second year in getting the legislature to pass this legislation. We will need to continue our efforts over the next year and try again in the 2013 session.

 

There is a great article in this issue about the college spring break crews who visited Georgia in March and did a remarkable amount of work on the trail for GATC. They were able to participate in a variety of trail work to really get a sense of the kind of work that is involved in maintaining the AT – from carrying chips in for the privies to building trail, restoring tent pads and roofing a shelter. Roy Stallings deserves major credit for coordinating the 4 groups that were here and organizing a complex matrix of activities and volunteers (as well as for being out on the trail with them every day!). Thanks to Roy and all those who came out to work with the students. I also want to recognize Beverly and Olin Batchelor who hosted each group for dinner (and showers!) at their home. I had the good fortune to meet all the students and we are fortunate to have such an enthusiastic group of young trail maintainers come help us.

 

I have mentioned in previous columns that GATC has been working with the USFS to develop a new Volunteer Services Agreement to provide coverage for GATC volunteers in the Forest. Under the guidance of Region 8 Forester Michelle Mitchell, this has been a very productive and successful process. While it is not final yet, we have created an agreement that covers volunteers in trail maintenance, natural resource monitoring and outreach. Michelle pulled together the various ideas in order to meet the needs of GATC and the FS. She was cognizant of making sure that the plan met the needs of our club and helped to make this a smooth and useful process.

 

Please make note of the article about the GATC Nominating Committee. If you would like to get more involved with the management of the club, let Gennie Justus, chair, or any member of the committee know. The committee will meet this month to begin the process of identifying people for the 2013 board. This board will be the newly restructured board that the membership voted on last October. We will now have a Communications Director and a Community Outreach Director on the board (in addition to the other director positions).

 

See you on the trail,

Shelley Rose, GATC President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 14:37