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Virginia Regional

December 2017

Rice Fields Habitat Management & Scenic Improvement

Some of the most scenic areas along the Appalachian Trail traverse open areas such as the Southern Balds in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Mount Rogers High Country in Virginia, the agricultural lands in the Mid-Atlantic, and the stone-walled pastures of New England. Management of these areas requires continuous maintenance and hard work from agency partners, club volunteers, and ATC. One great example of how the collective partnership manages open areas is at Rice Fields here in Southwest Virginia!

Rice Fields is a 15-acre open area of grasses and shrubs located on the top of Peter’s Mountain along the VA-WV border. This old field was historically grazed with cattle under permit by Mr. Rice himself. For at least the past decade, the Eastern Divide Ranger District (USFS) with help from Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT) and ATC have managed this old field for the spectacular views it provides for the A.T., and as wildlife habitat. Often this area requires multiple nights of camping by the USFS to mow, bush-hog, and perform saw work on the tract. One of the biggest challenges in maintaining this area is the number of rocky outcrops and steep slopes within the open footprint. Due to these conditions, ATC and OCVT try to lead work trips to push back the encroaching woody vegetation. These work trips include hiking in ~2.5 miles and using brush cutters, folding saws, and loppers to cut back vegetation that would otherwise revert the area back into forest. This winter, 16 volunteers with OCVT and 8 volunteers with Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity at Virginia Tech, helped manage the encroaching woody vegetation.  The progress the group made was truly remarkable, and it was great to see so many new faces out on such a unique open area management project. Projects like this are a great example of how the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech is continually trying to engage the next generation of conservationists in their work. It is also a great example of how important the partnership between the USFS and volunteers is to the successful management of the Appalachian Trail’s significant resources.

If you are interested in leading or joining an open area management project on a section of A.T. in Virginia please contact Conner McBane at cmcbane@appalachiantrail.org.
Help Us Celebrate 50 Years!

2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act, and we hope A.T. clubs and A.T. Communities will help us celebrate all year long.  ATC encourages groups to identify co-hosts and partners for A.T. volunteer opportunity events throughout the year and email the dates and details for those events tovolunteer@appalachiantrail.org

ATC will assist in promoting 50th Anniversary activities onappalachiantrail.org and Trails50.org.  Use the toolkit to download and use the logo.

Can You Name This Invasive?!

Test your knowledge of invasive species by seeing if you can identify this species with photos and a description (the answer is at the bottom of this email).

This invasive species is native to Japan and was first introduced to the United States in 1864 as an ornamental. The 2-8 foot tall shrub is widely sold and planted by landscaping companies and nurseries. One of the biggest reasons this shrub is planted is for its showy fall leaves that often have a yellow and/or maroon hue and for its showy, ovoid, bright red berries. These red berries mature in the Fall and persist through winter. Another way to identify this species is by the thorny spines that offshoot downward from its stems. For further confirmation on identifying this species, some volunteers cut the stem revealing the bright yellow color of the wood and inner bark.

This invasive shrub has invaded the Northeast and is quickly spreading into the Southeast where it has already made its way into northern Georgia and South Carolina. It grows well in full-shade and indisturbed openings. One of the main ways this shrub disperses into natural areas is by birds who indulge themselves on the edible red berries. Once this shrub invades an area, it will quickly outcompete native shrubs, forbs, and other understory plants causing a steep decline in diversity within the plant community. This species also has a strong association with ticks, according to recent research by the University of Connecticut, which has also raised public concerns promoting management of this shrub.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has long been involved in the management of this shrub due to its ability to reduce biodiversity of natural areas. These shrubs can be hand-pulled (with gloves), but will require continuous treatments to remove all the energy in the root stores. Please recommend not planting this shrub to your local landscapers, nurseries, and neighbors to help reduce the spread of this species. If you have accidentally planted this shrub then please remove it and replace it with a native shrub; the native plants, pollinators, and birds will thank you! If you would like to be a part of ATC’s effort to manage this shrub along the Appalachian Trail, please contact Conner McBane atcmcbane@appalachiantrail.org.

Think you know what this invasive species is?  Click Here to find out! Or scroll to just above the "Get Involved" link below.

myATstory Season 2 Launches

The myATstory campaign is an Award-nominated short film series that highlights the extraordinary lives of individuals directly impacted by the Appalachian Trail. These stories showcase that the ATC’s mission is the community’s mission.
The film “A Lasting Legacy,” is the story of legendary Trail volunteer Dave Field. For over 50 years, Field has helped design and preserve the path of the A.T. throughout the backwoods of western Maine. Since he began maintaining the Trail at age 14, Field has dedicated much of his life toward preserving the A.T. in Maine and promoting the importance of Trail volunteers. Featuring gorgeous visuals and a message that will resound with A.T. lovers everywhere, "A Lasting Legacy" will leave you in anticipation of your next A.T. adventure.

Seasonal Job Opportunities with ATC

Are you interested in being a part of protecting and preserving the A.T.?  We'll now's your chance to work for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy!  We have Ridgerunner and Trail Crew positions in our region for 2018.

Ridgerunners:  We have three Ridgerunner positions in Central and Southwest Virginia: Mount Rogers, Catawba, and Tye River. Information and season dates for each position can be found by viewing the Ridgerunner/Caretaker application or contacting the VARO Office.  Applications being accepted now through January 31st, 2018.

Trail Crews The Konnarock Trail Crew will be hiring six positions for the 2018 season including 2 Crew Leaders, 2 Assistant Crew Leaders and 2 Camp Coordinators.  Numerous other positions are available with the Rocky Top, S.W.E.A.T., Mid-Atlantic, and Maine Crews.  Full details can be found on the Trail Crew Employment Guide/Applications.  Applications being accepted now through January 14th, 2018

Hot Topics: Pipelines, National Park Fees & Wheels in Wilderness

Update on Proposed Pipelines Threatening A.T.:

Recently, Virginia's State Water Control Board awarded a certificate for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and  a conditional certificate for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that there was "reasonable assurance" that these projects would not hurt Virginia waterways.  In response, landowners, conservation groups and local representatives have filed lawsuits challenging the decision.  Both proposed pipelines were also approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee in October 2017.

Follow the latest coverage on these issues by the Roanoke Times at: http://www.roanoke.com/news/topics/pipeline/

Proposed Rate Increase at Shenandoah National Park:

The National Park Service is proposing to implement peak season entrance fees at 17 of its busiest national parks, including Shenandoah National Park. If the proposal becomes policy, driving into Shenandoah National Park during peak season will cost $70. And walking in could cost you $30. 

The NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website accepts comments until December 22, 2017. Follow the link to learn more and comment: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates

ATC opposes "Wheels in Wilderness" Legislation:

A federal piece of legislation — H.R. 1349 — will soon be considered by House congressional members. This bill would open designated Wilderness Areas to mountain bikes and other forms of mechanical transport, breaking dramatically from the legislation passed as part of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is strongly opposed to this bill because it conflicts with the purpose of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) as a world-premiere, footpath-only recreation experience. Bikes on the Trail will undoubtedly lead to user conflicts and safety issues, as well as create significant additional work for our Trail maintaining volunteers.

What Contact your members of Congress and tell them to vote "No" on HR-1349.  Learn more here.

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In This Issue

Rice Fields Habitat Management & Scenic Improvement

Help us Celebrate 50 Years!

Can You Name This Invasive?!

myATstory Season 2 Launches

Seasonal Job Opportunities with ATC

Hot Topics

Crumbsnatcher's Corner


Contact Our Clubs







Crumbsnatcher's Corner: 'Tis the Season of Giving!

Hello friends, Crumbsnatcher the A.T. Shelter Mouse here, and this is one of my favorite times of the year!  There are always plenty of treats around for me to snack on and sometimes little drops of eggnog, yum!

It's also the season of giving, and I can always think of presents for the Appalachian Trail loving friends of mine!

A great starting place is the Ultimate Appalachian Trail Store's 2017 Gift Guide!  The list of suggested gifts, from a 2018 A.T. Calendar to a commemorative brick in the A.T. Tribute Garden in Harper's Ferry, is bound to include something to please the Trail fan in your life!

My personal favorites include the ATC logo pendant, the Happy Hiker Mug, and theGrandma Gatewood illustrated children's book.

And for those of us in  Virginia and friends in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, why not gift a Appalachian Trail License Plate?  

One more tip: if you shop on Amazon, you could be donating 0.5% of your purchase to a local Trail Maintaining Club: TATCNBATCRATCPATH,  MRATC via Amazon Smile.


Name that Invasive!

Japanese Barberry

(Berveris thurnbergii)

To find out more about this invasive species,click here.

Volunteer of the Month

Ron MacLean—Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Ron MacLean first set foot on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania in the 1970s, hiking from Caledonia State Park to Boiling Springs. During the ‘80s, he enjoyed hiking in central Pennsylvania on the A.T. and other trails. After he and his wife, Priscilla, bought a house along the Trail, he became more intrigued by the Trail itself and the hikers traversing it.

The Trail was later relocated away from their house to pass through Boiling Springs, where ATC has its Mid-Atlantic regional office and a small visitor center. He would often weed the small garden outside the office when he was in town. When ATC advertised for volunteers to help in the visitor center on weekends during the peak hiking season, Ron signed up.

From April through October, Ron provides information to thru-hikers and day hikers, novices and seasoned trekkers. Every year, he hikes the A.T. for 30 miles in each direction from Boiling Springs to provide accurate information on local conditions, “so I can be more in tune with what the hikers are seeing.”

Read More

Upcoming Events

*For more information, contact Kathryn Herndon atkherndon@appalachiantrail.org*
Hiker Happy Hour w/ OCVT
Blacksburg, VA
-- January 9, 2018 --

Hiker Happy Hour w/ RATC

Salem, VA
-- January 17, 2018 --

Southern Partnership Meeting
Marion, VA
-- March 9-11, 2018 --

Get Involved

Become a Member

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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Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club (c). 
P.O. Box 25283 
Richmond, VA 23260-5283
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