Join Hands Across the Appalachian Trail in Newport on September 17!

Event photo for Facebook

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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Posted in Mountain Valley Pipeline Tagged with: ,

RATC Board opposes Mountain Valley Pipeline, citing hiker safety and visual impact

Angels Rest 4.26.16 with arrow

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.

Angels Rest 4.26.16 with arrow

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Avoidance of threats to regional air quality and human health
  3. Satisfaction of criteria in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s 2015 Policy on Pipeline Crossings of the Appalachian Trail.
  4. Avoidance of threats to regional water supplies and to drinking water for Appalachian Trail hikers
  5. Avoidance of karst topography and active seismic zones in the proposed AT crossing locations
  6. Avoidance of specific impacts, including scenic impacts, likely with currently proposed AT crossing alternatives
  7. 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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Posted in Mountain Valley Pipeline Tagged with:

Become a Volunteer Ridgerunner ~ June 18 training

McAfee Chris and Edward 2012
NEW DATE for Training Day: June 18, 2016, 9 am – 2:30 pm
Perched high above the Catawba Valley, McAfee Knob is the most photographed place on the entire Appalachian Trail, and a beloved symbol of the natural beauty and opportunities for adventure that make our region so special.
But McAfee Knob is also a fragile place, in danger of being “loved to death”. In 2015 McAfee Knob was nationally designated as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot. The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) had long recognized a need for targeted stewardship and education along the heavily trafficked trail that connects McAfee Knob and nearby “crown jewels” Dragons Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. Rapidly increasing visitation has led to an increase in avoidable environmental impacts like litter, graffiti, trail erosion, and problematic bear behavior.
RATC created the McAfee Knob Task Force to focus on resource protection in the area, and a vibrant crew of 20 club members patrol the Trail as Volunteer Ridgerunners to help mitigate these problems with outreach and trail maintenance.
Posted in Leave No Trace, McAfee Knob/Triple Crown

What to do when a bear wants your food

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 blackbear1the 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.Properly hung bear bag 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

 

 

Posted in bears, Leave No Trace, McAfee Knob/Triple Crown

Camping closures at Lamberts Meadow Shelter and Campsite

Lamberts Meadow Closure sign.1 5.16Lamberts 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.

Lamberts Meadow Closure sign.2 5.16

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

 

Posted in bears, McAfee Knob/Triple Crown Tagged with: ,

Merv Brower memorial 11 am, April 20th in Salem, VA

 

MERV.1Our 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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Posted in Uncategorized

Small area, big problems: Mountain Valley Pipeline and Jefferson National Forest

12 inch giles pipeline erosion

[summary of US Forest Service’s March 9, 2016 comments on developer’s final Resource Reports in October 2015]

Peters Mt. Symms Meadow 10.15The 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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Posted in Mountain Valley Pipeline Tagged with: ,

Help RATC during March 16th Roanoke Valley Gives!

Poor Mtn 3-24-13 (16)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

Posted in RATC News

Saturday March 19,2016: next training for volunteer ridgerunners – come and help!

3 ridgerunners.5.15
By Kathryn Herndon, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Roanoke office 
Last spring, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) created a McAfee Knob Task Force to focus on resource 3 ridgerunners.5.15protection and management challenges around our region’s most beloved and iconic A.T. landmark, McAfee Knob. Rapidly increasing visitation has led to an increase in avoidable environmental impacts like litter, graffiti, trail erosion, and problematic bear behavior.
18 McAfee Knob Volunteer Ridgerunners help mitigate these problems with outreach and maintenance. Volunteer Ridgerunners engage hikers in friendly conversations to educate them about the natural and cultural significance of this area and tips on best-practices for enjoying the Trail safely and responsibly. They report on trail conditions and perform light trail maintenance to prevent small problems from getting worse–like dismantling illegal fire rings, packing out trash, and blocking social trails to discourage shortcutting. The group made a big difference last year, and hopes to grow this year by adding new volunteers.
Do you have what it takes to be a Volunteer Ridgerunner? You don’t have to be an athlete–many of the most important conversations and maintenance happens right in the parking lot or within the first mile. If you want to join this lively group of dedicated stewards, you must:
–> Join the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club ($15/year)
–> Commit to volunteer at least one weekend day per month (Fri/Sat/Sun), April through November
–> Attend a Training Day
–> Join an Orientation Hike

The next Volunteer Ridgerunner Training Day is Saturday March 19, from 9 am-2:30 pm at the Roanoke Regional Fire and Rescue Center, 1220 Kessler Mill Road, Salem, VA. There will also be a Training Day June 11. To sign up join the McAfee Knob Task Force MeetUp group and RSVP, or email Kathryn Herndon at kherndon@appalachiantrail.org. Kathryn will email participants prior to the training with details about the agenda and what to expect.

Orientation Hikes will be more frequent. There will be several hikes in March and April, appearing soon on the MeetUp page.
If you love McAfee Knob and are ready to help protect it and share your knowledge with others, we’d love to have your help as a Volunteer Ridgerunner!
Posted in McAfee Knob/Triple Crown Tagged with:

Have fun outdoors – join the RATC community in 2016!

Angels Rest.2

While the latest snow melts, it is not too early to play outside with the Roanoke AppalacAngels Rest.2hian Trail Club. Founded by AT legend Myron Avery in 1932, RATC’s volunteers are the stewards for 16 shelters and over 120 miles of the AT between Lickskillet Hollow and Black Horse Gap.

 Come hike with us. Last year we led over 100 hikes – short and long, easy and strenuous, on and off the AT. See a full listing of hikes and sign up by joining our Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club MeetUp group, which already has over 1,000 members. Check the MeetUp calendar for upcoming hikes – we already have 14 scheduled in February!

Be a maintainer. Want to help maintain the Appalachian Trail or build new trails in our region?  This is work is a little slow right now, but contact our Trail Supervisor, Jim Webb, if you want to get involved.

Patrol Virginia’s Triple Crown. We started a new group in 2015, the McAfee Knob Task Force, whose 18 current members help the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Ridgerunners patrol not only the AT around McAfee Knob, but also Dragon’s Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. Last year we put in over 500 volunteer hours on the trail – counting over 9,000 visitors; engaging with more than 5,000 of them and hauling out 154 gallons of trash. And we were smiling, because we did this job on one of the most scenic parts of the entire AT. As one member signed always concluded her monthly reports: “Best.Job.Ever!”  Task force members must a) be a member of RATC; b) complete a Saturday training program (the next ones will be on March 19 and June 11, 2016) and c) go on patrol with a trained member of the task force before they go out on their own. Join the RATC’s McAfee Knob MeetUp group if you are interested in this option.

264251_199735326740749_3199989_nKeep up on the news by “Liking” our Facebook group – almost 850 people have already done it. Read more ›

Posted in RATC News Tagged with: