Ellijay, GA (September 5, 2012) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will celebrate the official designation of Ellijay/Gilmer County, Georgia as the newest Appalachian Trail Community™ on September 14, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. at the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce Office located at 696 First Avenue, East Ellijay, GA. This event is free and open to the public.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate communities that are helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” said Julie Judkins, community program manager for 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.”
Event highlights include a presentation of colors from the Boy Scouts of America Troop 402, a joint presentation entitled “Hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) a Generation Apart” given by Gene Espy, second person to hike the entire A.T. (also known as thru-hiker), and Collin Chambers, recent local A.T. thru-hiker, and a proclamation and sign presentation from Morgan Sommerville, southern regional director of the ATC.
Other honored guests include J.C. Sanford, chairman of the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners; Steve Paradis, chief operating officer of the ATC; Shelley Rose, president of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC); George Bain, supervisor of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest; Andy Baker, district ranger of the Blue Ridge District; and Josh Moyers, youth minister of the First Baptist Church.
Following the ceremony, Gene Espy will hold a book signing for his autobiography, “The Trail of My Life: the Gene Espy Story”.
Paige Green, president of the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce and committee member supporting the application for designation, said, “I am thrilled that Ellijay/Gilmer County is receiving the Appalachian Trail Community™ designation. As a community we are tied in a very undeniable way to the land and our natural resources. It is our greatest desire to promote the Trail and our resources while remaining good stewards. I want to personally thank Travis Crouch, the lead volunteer on the Ellijay/Gilmer County designation committee, and everyone who worked so hard on the process of becoming an A.T. Community.”
The Appalachian Trail Community™ is a new program of the ATC, the nonprofit responsible for management and protection of the A.T. Launched in 2010, this program recognizes and thanks communities for their part in promoting the A.T. as an important local and national asset.
"GATC enthusiastically supports Ellijay's designation, specifically the emphasis on community educational programs it will develop as a result of the new partnership. We are looking forward to working with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to welcome Ellijay as the newest addition to the Appalachian Trail Community™ program in Georgia,” said Shelley Rose, president of the GATC.
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. Stretching from Georgia to Maine, the A.T. is approximately 2,180 miles in length, making it one of the longest, continuously marked footpaths 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. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the A.T.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail Community™ program, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/atcommunity.
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.
Contact: Julie Judkins
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 828.254.3708 x11
Email: [email protected]