UPDATE: December 5, 2016. George Washington & Jefferson National Forest have lifted their fire ban. Please note that FIRE BAN REMAINS IN PLACE FOR NATIONAL PARK LANDS, INCLUDING THE McAFEE KNOB/TINKER CLIFFS SECTION OF THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, between Va 624 and far side of I 81.
UPDATE: 1:15 pm, Thursday, November 17, 2016.. FIRE BAN NOW IN EFFECT ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL FROM SPRINGER MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA TO US 33 IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK. See details of the full ban here.
The ban includes the entire “Triple Crown” section of McAfee Knob, Dragon’s Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. NO CAMPFIRES OR OPEN FIRES at shelters, campsites or dispersed campsites. Campers may use their enclosed fuel stoves for cooking.
If you are thinking about camping in the woods and having a fire on federal land in our part of Virginia – think again. A prolonged dry period with almost no rain during the past 43 days means burning and campfires will not be allowed outside of developed camping areas in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest. “We currently are working to contain two large fires on the Forest that are over 100 acres in size with new fires starting daily,” said Fire Management Officer Andy Pascarella. The fire ban begins Tuesday, November 15, 2016 and will expire Wednesday, February 1, 2017. See the full order here.
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Review by Tom Johnson, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
“Don’t know much about history,” a refrain in that old popular song, never registered with Leonard Adkins. His interest in history goes back decades, and he is anxious to introduce it to you. Because Appalachian Trail hikers walk through history every day, Len wants to show them the history of this, history’s greatest volunteer project.
Len Adkins is a five-time thru-hiker (his email, “habitualhiker,” should give you a clue to his lifestyle), who has put together a five-volume history of the Appalachian Trail. (A sixth volume, on Maine, was written independently by Dave Field. So there are really six volumes that cover the entire trail. The series is Along the Appalachian Trail, is published by Arcadia Publishing along with the cooperation of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.) His series is now complete with the newest book, on Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. If you don’t yet know the history of this remarkable trail, you can learn from Len. He brings the trail to life through photographs, accompanied by captions that place each photo in its historical context. The movie-star looks of Warner Hall, the penetrating stare of Eddie Stone, the group portrait of the “Four Foolish Females” from Georgia, or the New England “Three Musketeers,” bring the history to life. Ever try climbing Blood Mountain from Neel Gap in a three-piece suit or an ankle-length coat? Did you ever see an early backpack that looks like a peach basket? Did you ever have the chance to meet legendary ATC staff member Jean Cashin in Harpers Ferry? You can see long-forgotten scenes like the old Sinking Creek covered bridge, or Appalachian families in the 1930s staring out in wonder at those crazy hikers passing through. Passing beside the Smithsonian rare animal research center (official title: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) in Northern Virginia, you see the admonition that “violators will be eaten.” (The sign was stolen years ago.)
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On September 17, 2016, people from all over the region will join hands to protect our land, our local communities and the Appalachian Trail from the unnecessary and unwanted onslaught of natural gas pipelines. Both the AT and the Newport community in Giles County are in the cross hairs of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project that is already opposed by many regional organizations, including the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.
WHEN: Saturday, September 17 -10:30 am
WHERE: Newport Recreation and Community Center, Newport, VA
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Using criteria developed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s board of directors has voted to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline due to its potential negative impacts on the AT and trail users. The board’s resolution voices “opposition to construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline as proposed across the Appalachian Trail on Peters Mountain and in the Appalachian Trail viewshed in numerous locations, including Angel’s Rest and along the Alternate 200 route.” (As already reported on this website, the US Forest Service has raised numerous concerns about the proposed route in its comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March 2016.)
Established in 1932 by AT co-founder Myron Avery, the RATC is responsible for over 120 miles of the AT between Route 611 in Giles County and Black Horse Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Club bylaws require the group to support monitoring and managing lands that were purchased for trail protection, to participate in and encourage the development of laws and regulations that protect the AT and its related interests, and to use all legal mans to protect and defend the AT and its related interests.
Arrow shows proposed pipeline crossing on Peters Mountain from Angel’s Rest
The board’s resolution cites RATC’s detailed comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June 2015 and November 2015, specifically noting the following issues:
- Necessity of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to examine cumulative impact of all proposed major natural gas pipeline crossings of the Appalachian Trail.
- Avoidance of threats to regional air quality and human health
- Satisfaction of criteria in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s 2015 Policy on Pipeline Crossings of the Appalachian Trail.
- Avoidance of threats to regional water supplies and to drinking water for Appalachian Trail hikers
- Avoidance of karst topography and active seismic zones in the proposed AT crossing locations
- Avoidance of specific impacts, including scenic impacts, likely with currently proposed AT crossing alternatives
- Careful and realistic study of visual impacts of the proposed Alternate 200 route, with specific viewpoints and criteria noted in the club’s November 2015 comments.
RATC strongly believes that the pipeline is likely to be visible from numerous locations on the Appalachian Trail and poses potential safety hazards to AT users.
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What should you do when you are on the trail and a bear wants your food? Get a copy of the tips shown below from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries here.
To help yourself and others:
- NEVER leave food in shelters or anywhere else near the trail. This is the cause of current bear problems – it is really a human problem more than a bear problem.
- ALWAYS hang a bear bag or use a bear canister or other bear-proof storage system at night. The bag itself should be at least 12 feet up in the air – so that a bear cannot reach it from the ground – and 6 feet out from the main tree trunk (see photo).
Generally black bears are naturally wary/fearful of people and prefer to avoid contact. However, bears that have been purposely fed or gotten a food reward from people may lose this wariness. These bears may try to “scare” you into leaving your food or pack. They may pop their jaws or swat the ground with their front paws while blowing and snorting, and/or may lunge or bluff charge toward you in an attempt to get you to leave. These bluff charges rarely end in contact and should never be rewarded with food that is left unattended or thrown at the bear. Should you encounter a bear displaying this behavior:
- Do not run from a bear in any situation!
- Remain calm and ready your bear spray (or other deterrent like rocks or sticks).
- Stay together if you are in a group; you will appear larger and more intimidating if you stick together.
- Act aggressively. Look the bear straight in the eyes and let it know you will fight. Shout! Make yourself look as big as possible. Stamp your feet. Threaten the bear with whatever is handy (stick, pole, bear spray). Throw rocks or sticks (never throw anything edible!). The more the bear persists, the more aggressive your response should be.
- If a bear that is behaving in an aggressive/threatening manner is intent on making contact, your first line of defense is always your bear spray. Point the nozzle just above the bear’s head so that the spray falls into the bears eyes, nose and throat. When it is 20 to 30 feet away, give it a long blast. That should be enough to discourage it and send it in the other direction. (Be cautious of wind direction)
- Once the bear has moved away, retreat to a safe location. Take your food/pack with you. Do not run. Stay alert in case the bear returns.
- Notify your local Appalachian Trail contact, Sheriff’s Department or Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries about your encounter.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office at 540.904.4393
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 804.652.7921
ALERT: The campsite and shelter at Lamberts Meadow reopened on July 11,2016 thanks to the installation of steel bear-resistant boxes for overnight food storage. PLEASE PRACTICE LEAVE NO TRACE AND CARRY EVERYTHING OUT. Click here for a 2-minute video on installation of the bear boxes.
Lamberts Meadow Shelter and Campsite have been closed due to problem bear activity that was caused by people leaving food in and around the shelter. A total of 5 to 6 bears have been observed near the shelter looking for food. This is a location that had significant bear activity in 2015. Hikers staying Campbell’s Shelter have also reported recent bear activity, but it remains open.
If necessary, hikers may use a temporary designated campsite that has been established just south of Hay Rock (see map), and marked with a sign. No fires at the temporary site! Lamberts Meadow is the only reliable water source between Campbell Shelter and Tinker Creek near Daleville. Hikers camping near Hay Rock should bring sufficient water. Hay Rock is 5.4 miles north of Lamberts Meadow Shelter, and 4 miles south of US-220 in Daleville.
Map showing closure and temporary alternate campsite at Hay Rock
Hikers must properly secure food at all times on the Appalachian Trail.
Never feed bears!
In an emergency, always call 911. To report problem bear activity, please contact the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office at 540.904.4393
Our RATC family was deeply saddened by the loss of Mervin Brower on February 20, 2016.
To allow better travel conditions for his Canadian family members, Merv’s memorial service will be held Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 beginning at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 125 W. Main Street, Salem, VA.
Merv came to Salem, Virginia in 1991 as a General Electric engineer. His 40+ year career with GE Canada, General Electric and TMEIC was studded with accomplishments: he received several patents in the steel industry, presented technical papers to the IEEE, taught and developed courses for steel and aluminum process industries, was an author of several technical papers, was a recipient of several management awards for individual creativity and achievement, was a lifetime senior member of IEEE, and travelled throughout North America and around the world serving customers.
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[summary of US Forest Service’s March 9, 2016 comments on developer’s final Resource Reports in October 2015]
The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would be over 300 miles long, including about 5 miles in the Jefferson National Forest (JNF), where it would cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) on Peters Mountain (photo at left) and come close to the AT on Sinking Creek Mountain, Craig Creek Valley, and Brush Mountain. In March 2016 the US Forest Service delivered 32 pages of comments on the developer’s lengthy final Resource Reports. A Pittsburgh-based partnership led by the EQT Corporation proposes to cross mountain ridges, steep slopes, streams, rivers and valleys with a huge 42-inch pipeline full of fracked natural gas under high pressure. The gas is destined for overseas markets and other places east of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
The Forest Service comments are pretty easy to summarize. If a student received these comments on a class project, the grade would be “Incomplete” or perhaps a generous D minus. A job applicant who received the comments on a work sample would not get an interview.
The developer’s latest report was clearly crafted to mislead reviewers by callously downplaying the project’s visual impacts, glossing over potentially catastrophic geologic issues, denying water quality and other environmental impacts, and simply ignoring clear requirements for crossing public lands with a private scheme. As Forest Service staff noted:
- The entire section on Environmental Consequences on Jefferson National Forest Lands is “woefully inadequate” since it does not describe direct, indirect or cumulative effects of the pipeline.
- “Significant materials, including viewshed analysis and maps, have been left out of this comprehensive package of ‘final’ Resource Reports. The proponent should re-review this entire package to ensure completeness.”
- The product is so vague and inconsistent that it “leads reviewers to question the level of critical analysis which was dedicated to developing these ‘final’ products.”
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The RATC Needs Your Help!
Foundation for Roanoke Valley is hosting a 24 hr only fundraiser for over a 100 local nonprofits in the Roanoke Valley on March 16th.
Ever hiked Macfee’s Knob or enjoyed other parts of the AT? A donation of as little as $10 from you could help deliver $10,000 to RATC to help us maintain our beautiful section of the AT!! Simply point,click and give. Be sure to schedule your donation on March 16th for the biggest impact. You can even schedule your donation ahead of time so you don’t forget!
Check out the direct link to our #rvgives page below @RVgives:
Want to know what your donation can go towards?
$25 – Helps outfit a volunteer ridgerunner
$50 – Helps construct a side trail connecting Catawba Valley to McAfee Knob
$100 – Helps refurbish a shelter on the AT
$250 – Buys materials to rebuild a damaged section of the AT.
#rvgives #RATC #AppalachianTrail