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chknfngrs
12-19-2017, 12:42
Given the opportunity, would you join the Appalachian Trail Conservancy,or your local trail club?! Or both?!

Wondering what the benefits of one over the other or if anyone is a member of both?!?

TJ aka Teej
12-19-2017, 12:57
Both. They do entirely different things.

Tennessee Viking
12-19-2017, 13:15
Local trail membership provides getting your hands dirty to access maintaining events and group hike events.

ATC membership is for the overall trail fundraising, the AT magazine, AT Store discounts.

ki0eh
12-19-2017, 13:56
I'm in both, but if I had to pick one, it would be the local club, especially if it's one of the smaller groups without a staff/fundraising machine (not that staff and fundraising don't have their place, but resources are typically thinner the smaller the organization).

SteelCut
12-19-2017, 14:03
Wondering what the benefits of one over the other or if anyone is a member of both?!?

So many volunteer organizations are deeply in need of people and money. Ask not what your trail club can do for you—ask what you can do for your trail club.

hobbs
12-19-2017, 14:22
I was in both...I dropped the ATC with the constant pitch for money...RATHER focus on the club and contribute there and give them the funds

skater
12-19-2017, 14:41
It really depends on what you hope to get out of your involvement. If you are looking to meet like-minded people in your area, to give back in a very hands-on way, or to get out of the house and get some exercise, then the local club is your best bet. If you are looking for opportunities to become more familiar with the more distant sections of the trail, to help protect the trail through advocacy/petitioning Congressmen/education, the ATC may be better suited to your interests. If you want to help on a local level but realize that the local clubs work best when partnered with the larger organization, joining both organizations should be considered.

DrL
12-19-2017, 15:59
Local club

Cookerhiker
12-19-2017, 17:01
Both

This is the best response so far:


It really depends on what you hope to get out of your involvement. If you are looking to meet like-minded people in your area, to give back in a very hands-on way, or to get out of the house and get some exercise, then the local club is your best bet. If you are looking for opportunities to become more familiar with the more distant sections of the trail, to help protect the trail through advocacy/petitioning Congressmen/education, the ATC may be better suited to your interests. If you want to help on a local level but realize that the local clubs work best when partnered with the larger organization, joining both organizations should be considered.

LIhikers
12-24-2017, 15:46
My wife and I are both members of the ATC and the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, where we are Boundary Monitors for the AT in New York

rickb
12-24-2017, 16:27
I was in both...I dropped the ATC with the constant pitch for money...RATHER focus on the club and contribute there and give them the funds

As part of a childless couple who is reworking his estate plan, I wish I had a better understanding of what the ATC would do do with the money. For years I had designated their land aquisition trust/fund as a primary beneficiary, but I understand that no longer exists.

They must be doing something great — but hell if I know what it is.

BlackCloud
12-24-2017, 17:36
I think you can dictate what an organization does with your gift. They will probably agree to a written contract if you speak to them now and your gift would be of some size. The local trail clubs is where the nit and gritty work is done. The AT is fairly well secured and the NPS has a dedicated office to the AT overall. The clubs will ALWAYS need to repair, reroute and rebuild.

The Old Chief
12-24-2017, 18:20
As part of a childless couple who is reworking his estate plan, I wish I had a better understanding of what the ATC would do do with the money. For years I had designated their land aquisition trust/fund as a primary beneficiary, but I understand that no longer exists.

They must be doing something great — but hell if I know what it is.

Same feeling here. For years I've supported the AT in North Carolina with a specialty license plate with the AT in North Carolina receiving $20.00 every year I renew the plate. Over 10 years ago I could go online and find out how much money the AT in North Carolina had made from the license plates and what it was used for in North Carolina. But all I can find out now is that the North Carolina regional office has been consolidated with the Georgia and Tennesee regional offices. All three states have a license plate program. I've seen NC license plates up to the number 9000 so they've got to be taking in a ton of money if only half of the plates are renewed in those 3 states. The ATC tax return online indicates that $137,000 was given to trail clubs and other like agencies last year in the form of grants. License plate renewals in the 3 states mentioned above probably bring in that much and more. I wish I could find out if the money I've given for the last 10 years has ever gone to improving the AT in North Carolina.

D2maine
12-24-2017, 18:49
As part of a childless couple who is reworking his estate plan, I wish I had a better understanding of what the ATC would do do with the money. For years I had designated their land aquisition trust/fund as a primary beneficiary, but I understand that no longer exists.

They must be doing something great — but hell if I know what it is.

its not hard hard to look up (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/about-us/accountability-and-transparency/financials-reports-and-documents)

D2maine
12-24-2017, 18:50
As part of a childless couple who is reworking his estate plan, I wish I had a better understanding of what the ATC would do do with the money. For years I had designated their land aquisition trust/fund as a primary beneficiary, but I understand that no longer exists.

They must be doing something great but hell if I know what it is.

its not hard hard to look up (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/about-us/accountability-and-transparency/financials-reports-and-documents)

skater
12-24-2017, 20:47
As part of a childless couple who is reworking his estate plan, I wish I had a better understanding of what the ATC would do do with the money. For years I had designated their land aquisition trust/fund as a primary beneficiary, but I understand that no longer exists.

They must be doing something great — but hell if I know what it is.
Perhaps you would be interested in supporting something like the Konnarock work. This is a crew of volunteers with paid leaders, sponsored by the ATC. Volunteers come from all over the country to work week-long stints. They take on projects that are too large for local clubs to handle easily. They do some awesome work, and the volunteers get an experience of a lifetime.

Furlough
12-25-2017, 09:59
I am a member of Both. I understand the fundamental mission of the ATC, but love the hands on experience of my trail club. Incidentally my club, the PATC is currently celebrating 90 years of trail building and maintaining.

Furlough

soilman
12-26-2017, 08:03
Same feeling here. For years I've supported the AT in North Carolina with a specialty license plate with the AT in North Carolina receiving $20.00 every year I renew the plate. Over 10 years ago I could go online and find out how much money the AT in North Carolina had made from the license plates and what it was used for in North Carolina. But all I can find out now is that the North Carolina regional office has been consolidated with the Georgia and Tennesee regional offices. All three states have a license plate program. I've seen NC license plates up to the number 9000 so they've got to be taking in a ton of money if only half of the plates are renewed in those 3 states. The ATC tax return online indicates that $137,000 was given to trail clubs and other like agencies last year in the form of grants. License plate renewals in the 3 states mentioned above probably bring in that much and more. I wish I could find out if the money I've given for the last 10 years has ever gone to improving the AT in North Carolina.

Perhaps your answers can be found here.
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/shop/at-license-plates

hikermiker
12-26-2017, 08:06
I vote for local trail club. Most are entirely volunteers and in need of money.

The Old Chief
12-26-2017, 09:49
Perhaps your answers can be found here.
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/shop/at-license-plates
Thanks for helping me find this info. I'm happy to see the Carolina Mountain Club is receiving regular grants from this fund. For many citizens like me who live too far away from the AT in NC to be heavily involved in trail maintenance, the $20.00 a year really adds up to a lot of help financially. I wish more than 25% of the monies raised were returned for the original purpose but that's seems to be about par for non-profit fundraising, maybe better than most.

Lyle
12-26-2017, 11:50
For me, I've diverted most of my trail spending to other, less well funded trails - CDT, NCT, Northwest Trail, etc.

The AT had a leg up on all the other trails in the way that Congress authorized them, they are basically complete with a protected corridor, plus they get more and bigger charitable donations from corporations and individuals due to their being so well known. Other trails are still struggling to protect their existing corridors and actually build tread, with the disadvantage of having less money. I have seen much of the ATC money funneled into school educational programs, high power fundraising, protecting "viewshed", etc. Things that may have a purpose, but are not actually trail building and maintenance. While other trails are struggling to exist, ATC is branching out into other areas. I prefer my money to go to actual trail building.

Lauriep
12-26-2017, 13:53
Great to see this question being asked in the first place. If hikers support a local trail club, that's a win for the Trail. If hikers support ATC, that's a win for the Trail. If hikers support both, that's a win-win.

Here's a overview of the roles of the clubs and ATC, with an explanation of some of ATC's work, which is not always as tangible as the clubs in the short term.

Clubs generally look after the day-to-day, year-in year-out maintenance and management of their assigned sections, which vary in length from 2 miles to over 200. Their work includes maintenance of the treadway, maintenance of shelters and privies, corridor monitoring, and working with A.T. Communities. (It's a lot more than that, but those are some of the most essential functions).

ATC ensures the long-term protection and preservation of the Trail, and the quality of the A.T. hiking experience.

This includes overseeing the treadway. In recent years ATC has been focusing more on making the footpath and overnight sites more sustainable, which is ever more important as we face increased use and more extreme weather events, which means accelerated erosion. It's also overseeing the corridor boundary program, which helps identify threats and encroachments large and small before they become harder to mitigate. It's working with partners, including local communities (and yes, sometimes that is educating local schoolchildren about the A.T. so there is greater support for the A.T. and hikers). We also work with partners to protect viewsheds and nearby landscapes from Georgia to Maine. We develop policies to deal with traditional as well as emerging threats to the Trail. We develop programs to deal with changing circumstances, which include educating an increasing number of hikers on sustainable practices and giving them tools to voluntarily spread themselves out.

There is definitely some overlap between ATC and the clubs in functions. And ATC especially helps smaller clubs with maintenance and management, and things like skills training and volunteer recruitment. On the other hand some clubs innovate new techniques and ATC helps share these with other clubs. Clubs can be powerful advocates in dealing with threats to the Trail. Some of the larger, more robust clubs are fairly self-sufficient, others need significantly more support from ATC.

In some places, ATC trail crews (http://appalachiantrail.org/home/conservation/advocacy/trail-management#trailcrews) perform relocations, rehabilitation, and even maintenance where the clubs do not have the necessary expertise or manpower.

ATC also works with the National Park Service (NPS) to ensure all its requirements of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail as a unit of the National Park System are met. The National Park status gives the A.T. its most potent protections and helps ensure a continuously protected footpath for almost 2200 miles. The NPS simply does not have the capacity to oversee 6,000 volunteers in 31 clubs spread out over 14 states. Nowhere in the park system do volunteers play such a significant role in managing and caring for a National Park unit. We have this unique arrangement because of ATC's role in working with volunteers to originally build and then oversee the Trail.

Everything involved with taking care of the A.T. is a partnership that includes ATC, the local trail club, the NPS. Where NPS is not the landowner, we also work with additional land-owning agencies (of which there are several dozen). In virtually every area of the Trail the make-up of those partnerships is different. Sometimes the agency is a big national park like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sometimes it's a tiny county park like Pen Mar. Sometimes a local trail club has thousands of members, drawing from major urban centers; sometimes a club has only a few dozen members from a sparsely populated rural area. ATC empowers local partners to contribute as much as they can, and steps up to the plate whenever any pieces are missing. In some respects ATC is lead partner, in some respects we are an equal partner, and in some cases we play a support role.

ATC continues to be very involved in land protection and landscape protection, and are expanding our efforts to work with local partners. There is increasing development and threats to the Trail in many areas. A number of years ago we made the determination that operating a separate land trust wasn't the most efficient and effective use of our resources, with a dozens of parcels scattered across 14 states. Although we still maintain properties and conservation easements, we now focus our efforts on working with a variety of local land trusts and other partners to protect lands along the Trail.

Without the volunteer trail clubs, there would be no Appalachian Trail. With ATC, there would not be a scenic, continuous long-distance trail. And we couldn't do it all without many, many partners. Those partners are volunteers at ATC's leadership level and volunteers digging in the dirt; federal, state, and local governments; employees of the National Park Service and ATC, and in some of the clubs; members and donors of ATC and the clubs. It's an amazing public-private partnership.

This is just an off-the-cuff summary that may not be perfectly balanced or complete, and I'm sure does injustice to the work of many (including many of my colleagues) but hopefully provides a little more depth in this discussion. If anyone wants to know more, I encourage you to explore the websites of the 31 clubs (http://appalachiantrail.org/home/about-us/regional-partnerships), the National Park Service A.T. website (http://nps.gov/appa), and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (http://www.appalachiantrail.org) website, especially the Conservation (http://appalachiantrail.org/home/conservation)page.

chknfngrs
12-26-2017, 14:23
Even if off-the-cuff, exactly what I needed to read!! Many thanks for your input!

Lauriep
12-27-2017, 11:46
Thanks for your support, chknfngrs, whatever you decide to do. And thanks to the many folks on WhiteBlaze.net who already support ATC or their local club financially or by volunteering, and those who provide helpful information and encouragement here to others. And thanks to ATTroll for making this forum possible.