If you are a journalist and want to learn more about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, you can read about us below. For inquiries please send an email to [email protected].
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC’s mission is to preserve and manage the A.T. – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
The ATC’s vision is to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy. We are committed to nurture and protect this sacred space through education and inspiration. We strive to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.
The ATC is a private, non-profit group. Founded in 1925, it currently has six offices with 45 full-time employees.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy CLICK HERE.
About the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is the one of the longest marked footpaths in the world, completed in 1937, stretching approximately 2,180 miles, from Maine to Georgia. It passes through 14 states and six other national parks. Benton MacKaye first proposed the idea of the Trail in order for people to seek refuge from the burden of industrialized metropolitan life.
Today, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) oversees the management and care of the A.T. with the help of 31 Trail-maintaining clubs up and down the Trail. A national scenic trail under federal protection, the A.T. attracts around 2 million visitors annually, including about 2,000 who seek to walk its entire length in a single journey.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail CLICK HERE.
The ATC Partners
The ATC works with 31 Trail Maintaining Clubs to manage the A.T. Volunteers from those clubs are responsible for most of the day-to-day work of keeping the A.T. open. In addition to trail maintenance, club volunteers build and repair shelters and other structures, monitor and protect the Trail corridor, monitor and manage rare plants and invasive species, develop management plans for their trail sections and participate in the ATC’s regional partnership committees. Club volunteers participate in and support the ATC outreach and education programs: Appalachian Trail Communities™ and Trail to Every Classroom. The ATC supports the Trail clubs by providing Trail and land-management programs, funding, and training. The ATC also works closely with the National Park Service, National Forestry Service, and local trail agencies in 14 states.
Trail Management and Support
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) works with federal, state, and local agencies, and the Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs in the cooperative management of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
Trail management encompasses the on–the-ground stewardship performed by volunteers and agency partners to maintain the Trail, its structures, and its natural and cultural resources. It includes keeping the footpath clear of natural overgrowth and blowdowns; building and relocating sections of the footpath, building and repairing shelters and other structures, and caring for overnight sites. The ATC coordinates this work, provides training, helps set policy parameters, supplies funding and other assistance to the Trail clubs, and recruits and manages volunteer Trail crews.
Our stewardship efforts include educating and supporting Trail users to adopt hiking and camping techniques that minimize damage to the natural environment. We promote Leave No Trace principles and deploy ridgerunners and caretakers along high-use sections of the Trail to help hikers and other visitors understand those principles and avoid unnecessary resource damage.
To help ensure consistent management practices along the roughly 2,180 miles of the Trail, we provide a number of resources for volunteer leaders, agencies and others, including a library of A.T. management policies and other reference materials.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s conservation work is focused on the protection and stewardship of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This land base, spanning the Appalachian highland region from Georgia to Maine, connects significant state and federal lands and functions as an important flyway and migratory corridor. Running primarily along the ridgelines, Trail lands also protect headwater streams for major east coast watersheds. This protected area is one of the most significant corridors, or greenways, in the eastern United States.
Our conservation work is focused on identifying high priority tracts for permanent protection, working collaboratively with numerous conservation partners. We advocate funding land protection and for best management practices to effectively steward these lands in perpetuity. The ATC also plays an important role as land managers, assisting with the natural resource management of corridor lands to ensure that the integrity of protected A.T. lands is upheld for future generations to experience and enjoy. We strive to base management decisions on sound science and we work cooperatively with partners to develop our conservation approach.
The Appalachian Trail Community™ Program
The Appalachian Trail Community™ program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the A.T. 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 program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail Community™ program CLICK HERE
Trail to Every Classroom Program
The Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC) program is a professional development program for K-12 teachers that provide educators with the tools and training for place-based education and on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Launched in 2006, the program offers educators resources needed to engage their students in their local community, while growing academically and professionally.
Place-based education is an effective method of teaching that combines academic classroom curriculum with community service. This method of teaching encourages students to solve local community problems while offering a hands-on learning experience. Studies have shown that this method can increase student achievement, community involvement, and environmental responsibility.
For more information about the Trail to Every Classroom program CLICK HERE.
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters - Harpers Ferry, WV - [email protected] (304.535.2200)
- New England Regional Office - Egremont, MA - [email protected] (413.528.8002)
- Mid-Atlantic Regional Office – Boiling Springs, PA - [email protected] (717.258.5771)
- Southwest and Central Virginia Office – Blacksburg, VA - [email protected] (540.953.3571)
- Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee Office – Asheville, NC - [email protected] (828.254.3708)
Key Staff Mark J. Wenger, Executive Director - Mark was named Executive Director/CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 2012. He previously worked for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, holding a variety of leadership positions over 32 years. Mark graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and received a Master in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. He is very active in the Appalachian Trail community. Prior to the ATC, he held a variety of leadership positions for the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club. In addition, he also volunteered his time at the local community level and has spent over 22 years volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America. Mark enjoys leading an extensive number of outdoor trips such as backpacking, canoeing, cycling, and whitewater rafting. He also is an avid hiker who completed section hiking the A.T. over the course of 8 years.
Steve Paradis, Chief Operating Officer - Steve first became involved with the A.T. when he undertook a southbound thru-hike over the winter of 92-93. After completing his hike and in an effort to give something back to the Trail, Steve volunteered with the Dartmouth Outing Club as a corridor monitor and ultimately as the club’s monitor coordinator. He has also served on the ATC Board of Managers, Finance Committee, and Stewardship Council as well as on the boards of both the Appalachian Trail Museum Society and ALDHA. In addition to a life membership in ATC and an honorary life membership in ALDHA, Steve values his continued memberships in the Dartmouth Outing Club as well as PATC, his local
Laura Belleville, Director of Conservation/Southwest and Central VA Regional Director - Laura grew up hiking trails in the Hudson Valley area. Among her first summer jobs in this area was the opportunity to lead youth trail crews in Harriman State Park. This fun and inspiring position sealed Laura’s interest to work towards conservation of our special places and natural heritage. She went on to receive her Master’s Degree in biology with a focus on tropical forest ecology. Early in her career she gained an appreciation about innovative conservation strategies related to ecotourism while in the Peruvian Amazon, and learned about the complexities of conservation working in the Florida Keys. Laura returned to her northern roots in 2000. Today she is a senior conservation manager with over 22 years of experience including field research, resource management, and conservation program development. Her work has been largely focused in the non-profit sector, including employment with the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy, where she grew into a management role as the Associate State Director.
Hawk Metheny, New England Regional Director - Hawk serves as the New England Regional Director for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and oversees the management and protection of 734 miles of the
Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in New England. Prior to his current position, Hawk worked on the A.T. as the Backcountry Management Specialist with the Appalachian Mountain Club on the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. He also worked with AMC as a Field Coordinator, Backcountry Caretaker, Trail Crew member, and worked five memorable winters as the Caretaker at Carter Notch Hut. Before becoming an employee with ATC, he served several consecutive terms on ATC’s Board of Directors and chaired the Stewardship Council. He thru-hiked the A.T. in 1993 (Hawk-Who-Walks GA—>ME), and has hiked many other sections of the A.T. since thru-hiking.
Karen Lutz, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director - Karen joined the ATC team in 1988 as the regional representative of the mid-Atlantic region serving NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV and NOVA, and currently is the director of that region working closely with 12 separate trail clubs and dozens of state and federal agencies. She has a reputation for finding satisfaction engaging the partners in big complex trail construction projects in the mid-Atlantic region. Examples include the Pochuck boardwalk (NJ), Bear Mt re-design and construction, and numerous highway crossings that have involved construction of major bridges and in one case an underpass to provide safe passage for A.T. visitors.
Morgan Sommerville, Southern Regional Director - Morgan began work with ATC in 1983 following work with the Blue Ridge Parkway (BLRI) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) as a backcountry ranger. Between the BLRI and GRSM, in 1977, Morgan hiked about 1850 miles of the A.T. Blocked from climbing Katahdin that year by the great Baxter State Park spruce blowdown fire, Morgan finally got to the summit in 1991, and section hiking, became a 2000-miler in 2000. Morgan has been pleased to put his NC State Univ. degree in natural resource management to use by helping to design, build, conserve and protect a national park (the A.T.) from the ground up while overseeing the evolution of the SORO office from a one man operation to four full-time, one half-time and ten seasonal employees.
- The ATC’s work extends beyond on the Trail and into the community. Interested in how the ATC is involved with the community? For more information about the A.T. Community™ click here. For more information on Trail to Every Classroom click here.
- Every year, 2-3 million people hike the A.T. Of that number, a few thousand set out to hike the entire Trail (called thru-hiking). Want more information on thru-hikers? Check out some quick facts here.
- Think you could handle a week with one of our Trail crews? Click here to find out more information on one of the ATC’s six crews.
- Interested in learning more about the A.T. and the ATC? The ATC Visitor Center hosts event throughout the year, with events aimed at informing the general public about the A.T. You can find their entire schedule here.
- Interested in how the ATC funds its programs? For more information on grants and ATC funding, click here.
Past Press Coverage
Javier Folgar, Director of Marketing and Communications – [email protected] (304.535.2200 x117)