Damascus, VA (May 3, 2011)
– On May 14, 2011, as a part of the 25th
annual Trail Days festival, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC), and town leaders from Damascus will hold a ceremony celebrating their designation as the newest Appalachian Trail Community™ with a proclamation signing, speakers and presentation of town signs. Scheduled speakers include Mayor McCrady, Virginia Delegate Joe Johnson, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) Coordinator Mike “Wingheart” Wingeart, and others.
The Appalachian Trail Community™ designation program is a new program of the nonprofit managers of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). Launched in 2010, this program recognizes communities for their part in promoting awareness of the A.T. as an important national and local resource. Towns, counties and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by A.T. hikers, and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail.
The designation ceremony will take place at 12:30 pm at the Gazebo in the Damascus Town Park, following the Giddy Up Cloggers. Hiking groups and clubs are invited to gather around the stage with banners and flags to show support of Damascus during this special event. At the end of the ceremony, attendees will line up for the popular Hiker Parade, marching through downtown along the Appalachian Trail.
Trail Days, a multi-day festival attracting approximately 4,000 hikers and about 15,000 other visitors to Damascus each year, offers hiker workshops, hiker services, food, gear vendors and entertainment. Many events are family-oriented such as slide-show programs, outdoor activities, presentations, hiking seminars, movies, and musical concerts.
The festival, bringing so many hikers and visitors to the Town, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate Damascus’ designation as the newest A.T. Community. The great services and generous hospitality the town offers make it a very popular destination for long distance and day hikers alike. “Damascus is known to the hiking community as the friendliest Town on the Trail,” stated Mayor McCrady.
For over 50 years, volunteers from the MRATC, one of the ATC’s federation of 31 AT maintaining clubs from Georgia to Maine, have led the maintenance, management, and protection of the A.T. in the area, in cooperation with the ATC, the US Forest Service’s Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and Grayson Highlands State Park. The club works closely with Damascus to make the most of this new program. They have helped design hiker brochures and work closely with local schools to get students on the Appalachian Trail.
“The ATC is proud to celebrate communities that are helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” stated Julie Judkins, Community Program Manager of the ATC. “These new partnerships will increase local stewardship of public lands, support community initiatives for sustainable economic development and conservation planning, as well as support healthy lifestyles for community citizens.”
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials who were working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. The A.T. is 2,181 miles in length from Maine to Georgia, making it the longest, continuously marked footpath in the world. Volunteers typically donate more than 200,000 hours a year on trail-related work. About 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year. The ATC is focused solely on preserving and managing the A.T. to ensure that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy 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 please visit www.appalachiantrail.org
About the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club
The MRATC manages, maintains, and protects the 56 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and additional local trails, in Southwest Virginia with volunteers from its membership and the interested public. For more information please see www.mratc.pbworks.com Contact:
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 828.254.3708 x 11
Email: [email protected]