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
protection 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:
–> 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 firstname.lastname@example.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!