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engaged partners

Engage and maintain a network of partners that reinforces ATC’s goals for the A.T. and its programs.

I. Outcome: ATC assists all 31 Clubs in meeting their commitments to management of the Trail and its facilities as described in each Club’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the ATC.


  1. Invest in volunteer-leadership development, strong and credible volunteer training, and volunteer recognition for Trail management.
  2. Strengthen the capacity of the Clubs to meet their Trail stewardship goals.
  3. Maintain up-to-date, realistic, and comprehensive MOUs and Local Management Plans with all Clubs.

II. Outcome:
The ATC partnership with APPA continues to be a strong and vital relationship and the “cooperative management system” with all primary federal, state, municipal, and private partners whose work is essential to the management of the A.T. is strengthened and maintained.


  1. Work closely with APPA to use its Foundation Document and Business Plan to advance mutual goals for the A.T.
  2. Utilize ​relevant National Park Service initiatives to advance mutual NPS/ATC priorities.
  3. Renew or implement management agreements with all primary federal, state, municipal, and private partners.
  4. Further enhance ATC relationships with state and local partners that have a role in A.T. management and protection.

III. Outcome:
Relationships with Appalachian Trail Communities are strengthened to support ATC’s future program priorities.

  1. Work closely with the established Appalachian Trail Communities to enhance the effectiveness of the program.
  2. Leverage the network of Appalachian Trail Communities for the benefit of the ATC, Trail users, Clubs and the communities.
  3. Stimulate the involvement of the Clubs and other partners in Appalachian Trail Community activities.


Volunteers and A.T. clubs are an integral part of the cooperative management of a 2200 mile long trail. Appalachian Trail volunteers – 5,939 individuals contributed 239,798 hours in 2017 towards maintenance, improvement, and construction of Appalachian National Scenic Trail assets, Trail management, and support of visitor outreach and information services. This contribution is valued at $5,775,543 (Independent Sector 2015 rate of $23.56/hour).

ATC hired a Director for Volunteer Relations in 2017 to work closely with clubs towards sustained capacity and attention to programs that protect all volunteers working on public lands. The Volunteer in Parks and Volunteer in Forests programs ensure that volunteers understand the scope of work and are adequately trained to accomplish agreed upon projects. Attention to these programs protects individual volunteers, A.T. clubs, and ATC. Each club and ATC is required to have an updated Volunteer Service Agreement (VSA). We also support longer-standing ATC-Club agreements. These agreements outline the management work each club agrees to take on based on capacity. Ultimately, ATC guarantees the NPS that the day-to-day management of the Trail is accomplished. Updated agreements ensure that there is an understanding across all partners. These agreements are the backbone of cooperative management.

In 2018 we are conservatively estimating that 7 of the 31 clubs will finalize the updated VSAs and will have signed agreements in place. Our progress on these agreements is dependent on NPS and club capacity for follow-up.

Understanding the ins and outs of the cooperative management system and club development requires very strong local club leadership. Every two years ATC hosts a Volunteer Leadership Meeting to help new and existing volunteer leaders understand the management history, risk management, capacity building, training opportunities, and new initiatives. We will host the next leadership meeting in 2018.

Capacity building is essential to sustain volunteer numbers for trail management and leadership. The 50th Anniversary of the A.T. is 2018. We will leverage this benchmark to gain exposure to an increased number of volunteers in 2018. We will develop a volunteer opportunities promotion strategy to be presented at the Volunteer Leadership Meeting. We will continue to develop an updated database for volunteer information, volunteer project management, and reporting on club accomplishments. This data management will allow also us to better manage our progress under this goal.

Good working relationships with all cooperative management partners is critical. ATC is often described as the “glue”, facilitating interactions among numerous partners and building communication channels. We host biannual regional and stewardship council meetings, issue a monthly e-newsletter for A.T. managers (The Register), and recognize volunteers for their significant contributions. Effective communication is essential, an issue we are always striving to improve.

We are deepening our engagement with designated A.T. Communities in 2018 to bring them into the management fold and to engage with the A.T. Landscape initiative. Community representatives will be invited to attend regional summits.

2018 Benchmarks:

  • At least 7 of 31 A.T. maintaining club’s.VSAs and MOUs are executed.
  • 6,533 A.T. volunteers in 2018, a 10% increase in over 2017 volunteer participation.
  • Host 8 regional partnership committee meetings and 2 Stewardship Council meetings.
  • Host a Volunteer Leadership Meeting for at least 60 volunteers with representation from each of the 31 clubs.
  • At least 30 of 45 Communities will participate in Summits, and 9 of those attending summits will partner with A.T. clubs to host, promote, recruit, and participate in volunteer opportunities that highlight the 50th Anniversary of the ANST in 2018.