Graceful farewell from Duncan Adams, Roanoke Times reporter

Duncan Adams (checked shirt in center) says farewell to Roanoke and heads to Montana

Those who have been following the Mountain Valley Pipeline story know that Duncan Adams has provided extraordinary coverage for over 3 years in the Roanoke Times. He has asked hard questions, shining light on a story that many outlets ignored or glossed over. Recently, Duncan accepted a long-sought offer to edit a newspaper in Butte, Montana, and his last day at the Roanoke Times was November 11, 2107 (two experienced reporters – Laurence Hammock and Jeff Sturgeon – will now cover the story).

Like me, Duncan has the West in his bones, and the call is strong. We wish him all the best and hope Montanans know what a great gift they are receiving.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club honored Duncan for his in-depth reporting at the ATC office in Roanoke on November 13. He responded by reading the hand-written note below, which he has allowed us to share:

A true writer, Duncan composed his note on paper without a single error. How is this possible?

The rain started after my brother dropped me at the Dragon’s Tooth trailhead. On that April morning in 1978, I was 23 years old and a backpacking novice.

I walked into the woods woefully unprepared. I had not been a Boy Scout. My parents weren’t campers. I had stuffed the flimsy, exterior frame backpack, bought on the cheap from a discount retailer, with way too much stuff, including – incredibly – an array of books.

I toted a thin sleeping bag and a tube tent, a plastic shelter open on both ends.

As it turned out, my trail maps were outdated. That first night, as the rain intensified, I searched in vain for the shelter in which I’d planned to sleep. The rain gleefully sluiced in through both ends of the tube tent.

It was a long night. The next day it snowed. A few days later, I hitchhiked into Blacksburg, where I bought a decent jacket and mailed home the books.

By the time I reached Damascus I felt like a seasoned outdoorsman. I felt stronger, leaner, less fearful.

Like many people who hit the trail, I sought healing and solace on that first outing. I found just enough of both to initiate a love of hiking.

I am grateful to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for your stewardship of this remarkable resource. And I am also grateful, and deeply honored, by this award. Thank you.

Earthquakes and pipelines: recipe for disaster

Red line = proposed route of Mountain Valley Pipeline

On September 13, 2017, Monroe County, West Virginia experienced the largest earthquake in decades, with the epicenter 1.5 mile from the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline route.

The Roanoke Times  reported that more than 200 calls came into the Giles County Sheriff’s Office dispatch in the half hour after the quake. Within a day, over 500 citizens notified the USGS that they had felt the earthquake.

The Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory rated it a magnitude 3.7 earthquake, while the US Geological Survey pegged it at 3.2 (they use slightly different measurement strategies).

Wednesday’s earthquake is the second one that was felt within 4 months in the GCSZ, with another on May 12, 2017 near Narrows, Virginia (magnitude 2.8).

 

WHY PIPELINES AND EARTHQUAKES DON’T MIX

Well, these weren’t huge earthquakes, so what’s the problem? Very simply, Mountain Valley Pipeline has chosen to place a very large (42”), explosive pipeline under enormous pressure (1,440 pounds of pressure per square inch) on a very dangerous route. Threats to communities near and downstream from the pipeline include:

  • Increased leakage of hazardous materials such as methane, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and radon from the pipeline into drinking water wells and public water supplies.
  • Increased risk of pipeline failure, producing catastrophic damage within as much as 7,700 feet on each side of the pipeline. WANT TO SEE WHAT A MUCH SMALLER 20″ PIPELINE LOOKED LIKE WHEN IT EXPLODED AND MELTED PART OF INTERSTATE 77? THIS IS THE SISSONVILLE, WV PIPELINE IN DECEMBER 2012.
  • Increased risk of major wildfires due to potential explosions on a route that is very heavily forested.

 

WORST POSSIBLE LOCATION: PROPOSED CROSSING OF APPALACHIAN TRAIL

If you were going to combine all possible risk factors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline in one location, the proposed crossing of the Appalachian Trail could be that spot. The September 13, 2017 earthquake was only 5-6 miles from the proposed crossing of the AT on top of Peters Mountain, immediately next to the Peters Mountain Wilderness on the Virginia/West Virginia border. Risk factors include:

  • Location in the middle of the very active Giles County Seismic Zone.
  • Location between what the US Forest Service has identified as two High Hazard zones that combine very steep slopes, with landslide prone soils, and high exposure to seismic action.
  • All of the dangers are increased if the soil is wet.
  • The bottom of the slope on the West Virginia side is full of karst, as noted by Dr. Kastning, so that a failure would impact a wide area.

At a live meeting in Salem, Virginia on June 15, 2017, I asked an MVP construction supervisor to cite one example of a pipeline this size that was successfully constructed in an environment of steep slopes, landslide prone soils, karst and an active earthquake zone. His answer was: “FLORIDA.” Obviously, Florida has karst. But none of the other hazards are present.

Mountain Valley Pipeline seems largely unaware of or unconcerned about the risks. They seem to believe that stating there is no problem in fact means there is no problem. Since the company itself is not being required to post any bond nor pay the cost of any damage that is done to the surrounding area, it is not surprising. All of the costs would be borne by those who are most directly impacted and who have the least resources to spare.

Read more ›

Hands Across the AT Celebration, Saturday, August 19 in Pearisburg

Are you tired of partisan bickering? Join us at 10:30 am tomorrow for a bipartisan celebration of the Appalachian Trail at the Pearisburg Community Center in Giles County. Google Earth map link here.

  • State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) and Delegate Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg) will speak, showing the bipartisan opposition that Mountain Valley has earned due to its disregard for landowners and the environment. Edwards and Yost simultaneously introduced legislation in the 2016 session of the General Assembly to rescind the state’s current survey law.
  • Diana Christopulos, President of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, will recall why we love the Trail and Trail towns like Pearisburg
  • Songwriter Leslie Brooks will provide entertainment, including her new anti-pipeline ballad.
  • Strange Coffee will offer coffee and donuts, with all proceeds donated to the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club!

See you there!  WANT TO DO MORE? SEND A COMMENT TO THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY AUGUST 22. A SAMPLE LETTER AND ALL THE OTHER INFORMATION YOU NEED ARE HERE.

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ATC: Mountain Valley Pipeline an unprecedented threat to ALL national trails

 

Kelly Knob on Appalachian Trail today

Many small pipelines currently cross the Appalachian Trail, but they are nothing like the proposed new Mountain Valley Pipeline that would be built by a consortium led by EQT, a fracking company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The latest edition of AT Journeys, the magazine of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, has a major article on the threat of this pipeline to all national trails. “Cutting to the Core:Setting a Precedent for Pipeline Proposals” by Jack Igelman. (if you have trouble getting this link to open properly, please right click, copy the link, and paste into a new tab)

Kelly Knob with Mountain Valley Pipeline

Unlike existing pipelines, this one would be visible off and on for almost 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. In Giles County, the pipeline would cut an ugly swath that would be visible from Kelly Knob on the AT, only about 2 miles away. Even worse, the project would create a 500-foot utility corridor through the national forest that would invite co-location of two or three equally large projects immediately adjacent to this monster.

Gary Werner, executive director of the Partnership for the National Trails System based in Madison, Wisconsin, says the project would set a precedent Read more ›

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Get your hands dirty this summer with the Konnarock Volunteer Trail Crew!

By Jane Rice, Appalachian Trail Conservancy intern

Are you ready to learn new awesome trail building skills? Then the Konnarock volunteer trail crew is perfect for you. No prior experience is necessary, just a desire to help maintain the Appalachian Trail and bond with other volunteers from all around the country. Within the 120 mile stretch of the A.T. near Roanoke, Konnarock has constructed and repaired portions of the A.T. with the help of hundreds of volunteers, but there is always more work to be done. More steps to be added and trails to be widened. Konnarock volunteers learn the significance of trail maintenance out on the A.T., and all the hard work that goes into preserving the land for years to come. Konnarock runs from May 3rd to August 9th with each work week running over the weekend allowing individuals to take minimal work time off during the week. The Appalachian Trail receives around 2 – 3 million visitors every year, but without the hard work of trail volunteers that growing number wouldn’t be possible.

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March 4, 2017: The Appalachian Trail in Vintage Photos at RATC Pot Luck and Annual Meeting

WHAT: Pot Luck and Annual Meeting featuring Leonard Adkins on “Visual Histories of the AT” – vintage photographs selected from the archives of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the National Park Service, historical societies, long-time trail enthusiasts, and local Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs wonderful photos. Leonard will have all 6 of his books available. Great as a gift for someone who loves the AT.

WHEN: Saturday, March 4, 2017 ~ 6 to 9 pm

WHERE: Christ Lutheran Church, 2011 Brandon Avenue, SW, Roanoke VA (near Patrick Henry High School)

Leonard (Habitual Hiker) is a longtime member of RATC, and tomorrow’s program will be based on the 6 books he has authored or co-authored as a visual history of the Appalachian Trail.

Please bring a covered dish to share – all are welcome.

Here is what you will be seeing:

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Arcadia Publishing are pleased to announce that Leonard M. Adkins has completed his eight-year labor of love. The colorful history of the trail along its entire length from Georgia to Maine is now featured in six volumes of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series:

Along the Appalachian Trail: Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee Read more ›

ATC Biennial in Maine, August 4-11, needs volunteers and people who want to hike!

The first time I hiked the AT in Maine, I had to quit early. The challenging pathways were much more than I had expected.  The next year, after better planning and training, it was a joy,  and Maine is now just about my favorite state on the AT. Where else can you see a moose on the trail?

RATC members have a chance to explore the AT in Maine (over 240 hikes) with lots of help and company this year at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Biennial Conference.

And there is more – they need volunteers. So check the details below and on their website if you are interested in attending (registration begins in May) or volunteering. Here is the story:

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) holds a conference every two years at different locations in the Eastern US. In 2017, the conference will be held in Maine at Colby College in Waterville, Maine August 4-11, 2017.  This week-long event includes over 240 hikes, numerous workshops, and excursions to local areas of interest. The conference will also include ATC’s 41st membership meeting. Each evening there are exciting adventure presentations and stellar entertainment. The event draws people from around the world, but primarily from locations along the nearly 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.).   At the last conference held in Maine (1997 Sunday River), 1,380 people participated.  We anticipate 1,500 attendees in 2017.

For more information:

Conference website: www.atc2017.org

To Volunteer: www.appalachiantrail.org/Maine2017Volunteers

Contact for Volunteer info, mail to: Volunteers2017@ATconf.org

To be a Sponsor or Exhibitor, mail to: Exhibits2017@ATconf.org

 

Burn ban lifted for southern Appalachian Trail from Springer Mt., GA to US 33 in SNP

UPDATE: The National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club have lifted the burn ban on the AT section that includes McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, and the NPS and ATC have lifted bans previously in effect on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park segments of the AT. Effective December 7, 2016, small camp fires are again permitted in fire grates only at designated locations between Va 624 and Va 652. See our McAfee Knob/Triple Crown page for details on legal locations for camping and campfires, and be safe out there!

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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A Visual Picnic: Leonard Adkins completes the photographic history of the Appalachian Trail

adkins-ma-cover-photoReview 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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Join Hands Across the Appalachian Trail in Newport on September 17!

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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