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screwysquirrel
02-17-2004, 22:53
I just got a membership application to join this club and I was wondering what others think about this club. Pro or Con. I've always heard bad things about them on the trail for the past several years so I thought maybe I could get some good thoughts about them. Whoops, I didn't know that there was an older thread about this, sorry.

snowshoe
02-18-2004, 08:21
I was a member for a few years and hated the club. I felt all they really focused on was the Whites. I really disliked them when I tried to get AMC maintainers to mainain trails and later found out that they dont maintain mltiuse trails. I found that very strange since their chapters lead mt bike trips but against maintaining multi use trails. Tha makes no sence
I also think they are over priced as the saying goes the Appalachain money club. I would rather use the money for my local hiking clubs like the NY-NJ trail conference, Catskill 3500 club or the ATC. This s just my view on the AMC. They do good things but then yet the do bad as well. You ever go on lead hike. There are areas that get 20 or people for a day hike. Use your money for a local hiking club

Blue Jay
02-18-2004, 08:31
I agree with snowshoe, join a local club or the ATC. The AMC is a mindless money machine.

Peaks
02-18-2004, 09:54
I'd recommend that everyone who enjoys the out of doors to support the organizations that help make this possible.

I think that if you frequent areas maintained by the AMC, then give them some financial support and hopefully some labor. However, if you live elsewhere and don't frequent AMC country, then support the local orgainizations in your area.

Don't just be a user. We all have benefitted from the generousity of others.

Kozmic Zian
02-18-2004, 10:12
Yea.....AMC. When you hike thru the Section of AT the AMC is responible for(NH_ME) you can see that they have a beautiful section of the Eastern Mts. It's hard not to want to support that effort. I say, if you love the Whites and Mt. Washington (I do) and you're of a mind to give some monetary support,Go for it. They have the most beautiful facilities on the Trail. Dosen't mean its my particular style, but still what they do is well [email protected]

Chef2000
02-18-2004, 10:20
I do not belong to the AMC. However I am a recent volunteer of there trail maintainer program in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I also have done volunteer work with there Boston Chapter in a local ,Multi use, State Reservation. As well as out on The Boston Harbor Islands National Park.

Last Year ,On the 90 miles of AT that pass thru Massachusetts, The AMC Volunteered over 2000 hrs of labor and travel time. This is all free labor from people who love the outdoors. The worked done included ; digging many new privy pits at shelter locations;constant removal of blowdowns; drainage work; rock work and much more. All of this is done to make the AT a better experience for everyone.

I dont use the huts, except to take a break. Thats not the way I enjoy the outdoors. When looking at the Hut system and where it is. Mostly a very precious alpine enviroment, that is not normally seen in New England. You have to go much farther north to experience this climatic zone. I believe the huts help to preserve the zone by offering a place where 50 people can spend the night at the top of the mountain. What would above treeline look like without the huts? Have you ever seen The GA section of the AT. Fire rings everywhere.

Kozmic Zian
02-18-2004, 11:30
I agree with this poster. You have to walk a mile in my shoes......He knows about the AMC. All AT clubs deserve support.

Doctari
02-18-2004, 11:50
I have heard many good and bad things about the AMC. My biggest "concern" is that the president of this "Club" has a "6 figure income" from the club. Whatsupwiththat? That is at least 3 times what the average working stiff makes AND many of the workers (the AMC volunteers) work for free after paying for club membership. Thanks to the workers!!! Loose the president?
As I havn't delt with that section yet, so have only heard stories & stuff, most of what I hear is "Appalachian money club" seems to fit, at least enough to make you wonder.

My $0.02


Doctari.

weary
02-18-2004, 11:56
The AMC is a mindless money machine.

AMC can be irritating at times. But it is not a mindless money machine. I've been a member since around 1970. I joined after I had written a few stories for a newspaper about hiking Maine mountains. A member of the Maine Chapter had stopped by one day and argued that if I was going to write about Maine mountains I ought to know the people who maintain them. I couldn't think of a quick excuse, so I joined.

After the AMC purchase of the 37,000 acres in Maine, I invited myself to the meetings of the committee that was planning on what to do with the land that the club had bought. I had maintained Whitecap Mountain for 15 or 20 years and had been overseer of the AT through the land they purchased. I figured they should hear from someone who is familiar with the area.

It's been a fascinating experience: to discover how little actual planning had been done before the purchase; how they have welcomed participation from the Maine Chapter (including the woman who wrote a blistering criticism in the chapter newsletter), and to see the dedication and concern for protection of the wilderness values of the land.

These are not always the wisest people I've worked with, but they are certainly the most dedicated to the protection of the woods and mountains, and to providing opportunities for people to enjoy the woods and mountains.

Nor are they armchair planners. These are folks who have experienced the outdoors, people who have experienced the trails in winter, and who can argue convincingly, for instance, for the importance of keeping some ski trails ungroomed, and all trails ungroomed in the 10,000 acres being proposed to be set aside as wilderness.

The guy who manages the AMC campsites in the White Mountains was at the meeting yesterday. You know the campsites -- the ones that every thru hiker complains bitterly about having to pay to stay at. Well the manager hiked the trail in 1993, the same year I wandered from Georgia to Maine. Later we chatted frequently during my annual January forays to the Carter Notch Hut, where he worked as caretaker. Hawk knows the trail, loves the outdoors and works to keep it protected. He is not part of a "mindless money machine."

No. I suspect I won't be totally happy with the final plan for the 37,000 acres. But I am happy that those plans are being developed by people who know the outdoors and who are concerned with more than generating income.

I suppose that in the interests of full disclosure I should tell you that AMC gave me a "distinguished service award" at it's annual meeting last month. I like to think that in fact I have done useful things for the mountains of Maine over the years. But AMC, being AMC, didn't cite any of these things in its presentation. I thought the club had probably done the right thing for wrong reasons.

These days, every few weeks I drive five hours and sit through hours of discussion in hopes of convincing AMC to do the right thing, for the right reasons, in the 37,000 acres that they suddenly own in Maine.

Weary

Blue Jay
02-18-2004, 12:02
Weary, I do appreciate your 33 year effort to reform the AMC. I truly hope you are successful.

funkyfreddy
02-18-2004, 13:28
I was a member for many years but didn't renew the last few years as the AMC has become way too commercial for my tastes. About a year ago I wrote a lot of posts highly critical of them on VFTT and the AMC boards because of the Highland Center and their commercialization of the White Mountains.

Since then my stance on the AMC has mellowed and I often think about rejoining....... why you might ask? Well, on the whole they do a lot of good things and as an organization they are multifaceted. I certainly like the membership which contains a lot of good, concerned, dedicated and knowledgeable people. I also like their books and maps. Not a big fan of the huts but did like staying at Pinkham Notch. At this point my feelings about the AMC are very complex to say the least....... Any caveats I have about the AMC was always with the leadership, however, not the membership.

One thing I don't want to see is the large development and commercialization of the White mountain hut system occur along the trail in Maine. The AMC can be a good steward but needs to keep its greed factor in check. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" and I think we'll all have to be vigilant as to what kind of development and commercial activity should be allowed to occur along the AT in Maine.

I agree with snowshoe that one should support one's local clubs. I’m a member of the NYNJ TC, the ATC, and thinking about joining the ADK and the Catskill 3500. If the AMC became more democratic and allowed it’s members to vote on its policies I would rejoin w/o hesitation.

snowshoe
02-18-2004, 13:38
I agree they have done good, but when you look at the size of the club and the area it covers of course they will have the most hours logged on trail work. I dont like the idea of how much they charge for workshops. Yes the money goes to land and things but lets face it I can not afford any of those workshops or even the membership. Most of the individuals who teach the courses are volunteers. Then you have the NYNJ trail conference and the ATC who put on those same workshops for free. I think you get more one on one relationship with local clubs as well.

The Old Fhart
02-18-2004, 16:12
When you say “AMC” one of the next word mentioned is money. What is hard to understand is that there are really two parts of the AMC, the parent AMC and the individual chapters. As a volunteer trip leader and instructor in the New Hampshire Chapter for over 20 years I can tell you that the chapters have as much, or more, trouble with the parent AMC as any one else does.

Snowshoe, in a previous post, talks about the high cost to attend the AMC workshops and I assume he is talking about the ones that are held at Pinkham Notch, for example. Those 2.5 day workshops are around $300 which includes room and meals. However the NHAMC is having a mountain safety workshop this weekend, Feb. 20-22, with room and meals, at Cardigan Lodge with small individual groups and some of the most knowledgeable hiking instructors you can find anywhere and the total cost is one-third of the Pinkham workshops.

The NH chapter leader’s peer practices have served as a model for other chapter’s excursions committees as well. Three of the NHAMC leaders traveled to give a workshop to the NY-NJ chapter at no cost. Many of the individual chapters provide excellent workshops and functions at cost or free. Sometimes it is hard to separate the two halves of the AMC but with over 90,000 members the AMC is not one cohesive unit. It includes many profit and non-profit functions.

I hate getting my membership renewal for $40 each year but I have to keep my membership if I want to volunteer my time as a trip leader and instructor. They have talked about doubling our pay for the great job we do but twice nothing is still zero. We do it because it is a way of giving back, not for the 6-figure salary the president of the club gets. And while many complain about his salary it probably isn’t that unusual for someone handling a multimillion dollar business, non-profit or not. Would I prefer to see some of his salary go directly to the trail? Absolutely, but there are other issues I’d rather be concerned about.

azchipka
02-18-2004, 16:41
I hate getting my membership renewal for $40 each year but I have to keep my membership if I want to volunteer my time as a trip leader and instructor. .

This part of things tells me more then enough about the AMC. You must pay $40 to volunteer your time. LOL oh thats funny. Hmmmm I think i'll pass and work with the ATC instead who is willing to let me Volunteer my time with out forcing me to pay them.

Jack Tarlin
02-18-2004, 17:40
There is no question that the AMC does a great deal of good: Some of its facilities, such as the Mohican Center in New Jersey are wonderful; it also does a terrific job maintaining backcountry tentsites in the Whites and parts of Maine. They do a great deal of trail work as well, and also have some excellent programs that help introduce a lot of folks to outdoor recreation activities; this includes some great programs for inner-city kids.

That being said and acknowledged, they also do a lot of lousy things, and have insisted on doing so for a very long time: There is no question that they spend a dis-proportionate ammount of their time and energy in the White Mountains taking care of a very small fraction of people, that being their well-to-do members and guests who can afford to pay for their over-priced, elitist, and exclusionary lodging options. Their continued backing and construction of these tony accomodations is ABSOLUTELY done at the expense of creating more backcountry shelters, tentsites, hostels, and other options for folks of more limited means. (Perfect example would be their destruction of the Crawford Notch hostel and the extraordinary decision to spend millions of dollars replacing it with what ammounts to a luxury hotel, the Crawford Center, known to some of us as the "Ritz Crawford"). They also spend a great deal of time arguing about their wise stewardship of these endangered areas, yet they spend untold thousands of dollars each year printing glossy ads and brochures whose sole purpose is to entice yet MORE people to visit these fragile, over-used areas, and by offering cushy lodgung options, the AMC ensures that a great many folks who are thus enticed to enter these areas are woefully ignorant of sensible habits and practices in the backcountry, Leave-No-Trace ethics, etc. This is my opinion is bad policy. Lastly, they operate out of a century old townhouse on Boston's Beacon Hill; this facility is worth millions of dollars and costs a great deal to maintain each year; they could save a great deal of money and expenses by moving to more modest headquarters, by providing fewer purely social activities for their Boston-area members, and by paying their executive officers a lot less money.

I am no longer an AMC member and can no longer in conscience give them any more money, either thru membership fees, additional contributions, etc. If I were to do anything to help the Club, I'd work with a local chapter or maybe due some volunteer trail work; at least I'd know where my time, labor, energy, and money was going. But I'm not about to simply cut them a check each year. I'm NOT about to give them $40 annually so they can build more hotels in the Whites for the wealthy, or so they can offer nine more herbal teas to their pampered lodge guests, or to help pay their chief executive almost as much as the President of the United States, which they now do.

Frankly, instead of joining the AMC, I think you'd be better off joining or contributing to the Appalachian Trail Conference, or to one of the smaller clubs that help maintain and protect the Trail. At least this way, you'd have a very good idea of where your money was going, and you could be sure that your contribution was being used wisely.

Peaks
02-18-2004, 17:46
A couple of clarifications.

First, the president of AMC does not get the huge salary. If anyone does, it's the Executive Director. Now, I sincerely hope that the salary is commenserate with the responsibilities of running a large and diversified organization. Maybe some old timers can elaborate, but prior to Andy Falendar coming on board, I believe that the AMC was in financial trouble. He turned things around. You don't want a 75,000 member organization run by amatures.

Someone mentioned Hawk. Not only is he in charge of tent sites in the White Mountains, he is also on the Board of Directors for ATC. He has thru-hiked both the AT and PCT.

Weary, please keep up posted about Maine. Thank you for your postings.

Another point for people to consider. We hear plenty of comments about their operation in the White Mountains. We don't hear comments on the Mohegan Center, or places like Upper Goose Pond.

icemanat95
02-18-2004, 17:46
Running an effective non-profit organization, especially one that frequently meddles in legislative and political arenas, requires every single one of the skills needed to run a for profit corporation, plus some others. People of that caliber do not grow on trees, nor do they work for free. If you want to attract the highest caliber people to a difficult and often contentious job, you've got to pay them well enough to make it worth their while.

Thus the presidents of most large non-profits are compensated at similar levels as would be the presidents and CEO's of similarly sized for-profit corporations.

None of this is saying anything about how good the current president of the AMC is at his (or her) job. It is just a statement of fact if you want skilled leadership you have to pay for it. The sort of person you could hire for 50k a year is probably not going to have the skills and the connections needed to get the job done. Passion will only get you so far, then, more often than not, it'll defeat you. There are a lot of 6 figure salaries and even seven figure salaries to be found in the non-profit world.

MOWGLI
02-18-2004, 18:07
A couple of clarifications.

You don't want a 75,000 member organization run by amatures.



I believe their membership numbers are closer to 93,000, but I could be wrong.

The Old Fhart
02-18-2004, 18:12
Azchipka wrote: ‘Hmmmm I think i'll pass and work with the ATC instead who is willing to let me Volunteer my time with out forcing me to pay them.”

Azchipka, please don't think that every one has to pay to volunteer. I pay $40 each year to the parent AMC to keep my membership if I want to volunteer my time as a trip leader and instructor in the NHAMC. As a trip leader and instructor I do get benefits other than just trip leaders insurance. The chapter pays for my wilderness first aid courses ($140) and other benefits that far outweigh the $40 I paid in membership. I try not to let my dislike of paying the membership fee make me lose sight of the point of my volunteering is to help individual hikers better understand and enjoy the outdoors in New Hampshire. To not stay a member wouldn’t help me.

I don’t want this to be a discussion of one group being better than the other but rather to answer the initial question asked by Screwysquirrel which was: “I just got a membership application to join this club and I was wondering what others think about this club. Pro or Con.” Many of us have views on other outdoors groups but that wasn’t the question. I am a long time member of the ATC as well and consider that money well spent as well.

warren doyle
02-18-2004, 18:36
I like the AMC because it has the institutional humility to realize it doesn't have the moral authority to regulate the long distance hiking experience, unlike the NPS and USFS. The AMC seems to have always favored education of backcountry users rather than regulation. However, even though I don't like it enough to join it, I'm glad it exists.

TJ aka Teej
02-18-2004, 19:23
After the AMC built the Ritz Crawford, they announced plans to build several 80 bed huts in the western mountains of Maine. They were met with stiff opposition and their exploitation plot was foiled. Now they've purchased the Little Lyford Pond camps and almost 38000 acres in Maine's 100 Mile Wilderness. The PR professionals running the AMC's business plan to become a major player in the "outdoor" recreation industry learned their lesson about making their plans public. So now they're claiming (through surrogates) that they made a 15 million dollar deal with no plan.
If you'd like to help the AMC develop their recent Maine purchases into the Ritz Wilderness, go ahead and send them your 40 bucks.

Jack Tarlin
02-18-2004, 20:57
Iceman is right---sort of. If non-profits want to attract good people for their executive positions, they need to pay competitive wages.

He's right----there are plenty of environmental non-profits who compensate their top people at rates comparable to the AMC. Some of them pay even more.

But then, some pay les. In some cases, a LOT less. If you want to see some interesting figures, check out www.guidestar; it lists the tax forms of every non-profit you can think of.

For example:

Total AMC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: More than 6 million dollars.
Total ATC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: Less than 1 1/2 million dollars.

There's no comparison. Iceman, have you ever BEEN in the AMC headquarters on Beacon Hill? It's around the corner from John Kerry's little homestead, and it looks a great deal like it. Kerry's little love nest is worth 6.5 million dollars. Nobody knows what the AMC headquarters is worth cuz the folks at 5 Joy St. don't want this known or discussed....and I've asked them. But it's a lot; I used to live in that neighborhood.

In short, Ice, you're right. You need to pay good people good wages. But organizations such as the ATC pay a helluva lot less, and they get a helluva lot accomplished; I can't believe they do any less than the AMC. Gee, does this mean the ATC has an inferior staff? I sure don't think so.

I think they manage to accomplish what they do by finding great folks who don't need to be paid as much as our nation's president. And I think the AMC's executive masthead is larded with overpaid suits.

And that's only ONE of the reasons I'm sending my 40 bucks somewhere else this year.

icemanat95
02-18-2004, 21:13
Iceman is right---sort of. If non-profits want to attract good people for their executive positions, they need to pay competitive wages.

He's right----there are plenty of environmental non-profits who compensate their top people at rates comparable to the AMC. Some of them pay even more.

But then, some pay les. In some cases, a LOT less. If you want to see some interesting figures, check out www.guidestar; it lists the tax forms of every non-profit you can think of.

For example:

Total AMC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: More than 6 million dollars.
Total ATC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: Less than 1 1/2 million dollars.

There's no comparison. Iceman, have you ever BEEN in the AMC headquarters on Beacon Hill? It's around the corner from John Kerry's little homestead, and it looks a great deal like it. Kerry's little love nest is worth 6.5 million dollars. Nobody knows what the AMC headquarters is worth cuz the folks at 5 Joy St. don't want this known or discussed....and I've asked them. But it's a lot; I used to live in that neighborhood.

In short, Ice, you're right. You need to pay good people good wages. But organizations such as the ATC pay a helluva lot less, and they get a helluva lot accomplished; I can't believe they do any less than the AMC. Gee, does this mean the ATC has an inferior staff? I sure don't think so.

I think they manage to accomplish what they do by finding great folks who don't need to be paid as much as our nation's president. And I think the AMC's executive masthead is larded with overpaid suits.

And that's only ONE of the reasons I'm sending my 40 bucks somewhere else this year.


I'm not going to argue with you Jack. I suggest that the AMC does have some very large concerns to address that MAY justify the bigger budget, but then again, maybe not. Not having the force of a government agency behind you has its disadvantages. BUt I am not privy to the workings at the top levels of either organization.

I was speaking mostly in generalities and not defending the AMC and it's current administration. I have not been an AMC member since about 1996. The organization did nothing for me that I could not do myself or help provide for through other means. What the AMC does (in general) is necessary, I have some questions about how they do it.

lowthesd
02-18-2004, 21:24
AMC is as any church or any organization run by people and inherently going to make mistakes, decisions some portion of the population is going to hate, and a portion the population is going to think are heroic. It has done more good than evil and I fully support the AMC, if it makes money, attracts high paid help to better its position so be it. I hope they make a trillion dollars and buy New England to prevent it from getting back to its late 1900's state. Ct was 98% de-forested and most of the other states were. hence why we only have crappy trees now. The elms and the hardwoods are mostly gone (ELMS are 99.99% gone in CT, from its former being). Man inherently wants to destroy nature, for some reason it hates beauty it did not create, I support the AMC to buy up all of New England and create a managed enivronment.

Sorry about the rambling...

weary
02-18-2004, 23:17
Total AMC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: More than 6 million dollars.
Total ATC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: Less than 1 1/2 million dollars.


If there ever was an apples and oranges comparison, this certainly qualifies.

AMC is a major regional group. With housing facilities in the high mountains, facilities scattered all over the east from New York to Acadia in Maine, 97,000 members.... AMC dues alone come to $5 million, right alone income from all the facilities.

ATC is a service organization to a few dozen local clubs with a fraction of the membership, and virtually no facility income.

If I could afford only one membership, I would choose ATC. But comparing the payrolls of the two organizations, without comparing where that income comes from and how it is expended is meaningless.

Weary

weary
02-18-2004, 23:32
This part of things tells me more then enough about the AMC. You must pay $40 to volunteer your time. LOL oh thats funny. Hmmmm I think i'll pass and work with the ATC instead who is willing to let me Volunteer my time with out forcing me to pay them.

To have a trail maintenance assignment with Maine Appalachian Trail Club you need to be a member. I suspect the same is true of all the other significant AT maintaining clubs. ATC is desperate for money. It has just reorganized itself in an effort to get the funds needed to do the work that needs to be done.

Join, or not join. But please do not bad mouth groups you know nothing about that are trying to do useful things.

I'm constantly amazed at the people who claim to love the outdoors, but who seem to love even more to condemn those groups who have worked for decades (more than a century in the case of AMC) to create and manage the outdoor areas they enjoy.

Weary

rickb
02-18-2004, 23:36
Deleted post. Same old stuff. Fun to write, not much to add.

Rick B

funkyfreddy
02-19-2004, 00:10
I support the AMC to buy up all of New England and create a managed enivronment.

Personally I prefer wilderness to "managed environments" and would rather see an area logged occasionally than developed. No logging or industry would be better, but in my experience logging is a lesser evil than development, at least as currently practiced in NE and Maine.

weary
02-19-2004, 00:24
After the AMC built the Ritz Crawford, they announced plans to build several 80 bed huts in the western mountains of Maine. They were met with stiff opposition and their exploitation plot was foiled. Now they've purchased the Little Lyford Pond camps and almost 38000 acres in Maine's 100 Mile Wilderness. The PR professionals running the AMC's business plan to become a major player in the "outdoor" recreation industry learned their lesson about making their plans public. So now they're claiming (through surrogates) that they made a 15 million dollar deal with no plan.
If you'd like to help the AMC develop their recent Maine purchases into the Ritz Wilderness, go ahead and send them your 40 bucks.

TJ. You have an amazing talent for getting your facts wrong and for making accusations about things you know nothing about. There is nothing that I have quoted above that is accurate. But I am less concerned with your imagined facts than I am with the conclusions you draw from them.

I enjoyed meeting you last summer in Baxter Park, but I really am puzzled about whether you truly believe your fantasies, or just deliberately lie.

Whatever. TJ. AMC is not "claiming (through surrogates) that they made a 15 million dollar deal with no plan."

That is your somewhat distorted interpretation of my conclusion after having sat (uninvited) through two eight hour sessions with some of the club's top managers discussing the most basic questions about how to manage the land they have purchased.

Again. Join AMC or not. I could care less. But please don't tell lies or spread imagined falsehoods. I've been marginally involved with AMC for several decades. I have seen the club verge on bankruptcy, and then rebound to become a valuable voice for the protection of some of the critical wild places in New England.

TJ. You make statements again and again that have no basis of fact. Call it flaming on my part if you wish. But this is too important a matter to allow total nonsense to be spread around without being responded to.

Millions of wild acres are on the market in Maine. AMC has stepped forward and bought 37,000 of those acres. I'm desperately trying to encourage them to buy more.

The alternative is to lose the last serious wild country in the east. The alternative is to lose the wildness that makes the AT in Maine the jewel of the entire 2,170-mile trail.

Weary

icemanat95
02-19-2004, 00:44
To have a trail maintenance assignment with Maine Appalachian Trail Club you need to be a member. I suspect the same is true of all the other significant AT maintaining clubs. ATC is desperate for money. It has just reorganized itself in an effort to get the funds needed to do the work that needs to be done.

Join, or not join. But please do not bad mouth groups you know nothing about that are trying to do useful things.

I'm constantly amazed at the people who claim to love the outdoors, but who seem to love even more to condemn those groups who have worked for decades (more than a century in the case of AMC) to create and manage the outdoor areas they enjoy.

Weary

I had just written a fairly lengthy post saying pretty much the same thing. I went a little further, and was a bit more strident than I felt comfortable with. Weary probably remembers back when the whole Saddleback purchase was all the rage among Internet hiker groups, and I do mean rage. I suggested that if the ATC and NPS's offer wasn't satisfactory to the hiking community, particularly to the thru-hiking community, that we might want to put our money where our mouths were and pitch in to buy the land ourselves, or at least make additional monies available to sweeten the pot. I began talking to folks at ATC about how I should go about setting up a fund for this or if it were possible to put it into an ATC fund specifically earmarked for Saddleback, and who I might talk to about finding some corporate matching as well. Not only did I meet with active resistance among the community, but I was discouraged by the ATC and by the leadership of the effort.

I could understand the ATC's position, they were afraid I would end up muddying the waters and causing the Saddleback owners to up the ante and ask for more money, or that with an influx of private funds, NPS would reduce the amount of funds it was willing to cough up. There was also concern that the effort might dilute the funds available for other projects. That I could understand, there was logic there.

What I couldn't understand was the active resistance among the thru-hikers who, at least verbally, held this place in such high esteem. They all seemed to think that their ATC membership dues and their taxes should be enough. Some, like Weary, have spent much of their lives giving back to the AT and the backcountry. But they are an extreme minority.

It amazes me that people who proclaim loudly and proudly how profoundly valuable these lands are, are unwilling to cough up more than their ATC dues and the same taxes that every other person (most of whom don't give a darn about the AT) coughs up involuntarily. They are valuable enough that all taxpayers should be saddled with an additional load to buy them, but are not valuable enough that those who claim to love them most can't see their way clear to anteing up independently.

My feeling is simple. If you don't like the way AMC is working to help protect the Northern Forest, get up and do something different yourself. If all you are willing to do is rant and criticize you'd probably do more good just keeping it to yourself and not creating dissention in the ranks.

lowthesd
02-19-2004, 07:34
Spend your money where YOU think it will do the best.

warren doyle
02-19-2004, 09:33
I must commend Weary for his 'apples and oranges' analysis to Jack Tarlin's post and for his critique of many of TJ's posts.

chomp
02-19-2004, 10:40
The AMC is certainly not all bad, but it is more bad than good, IMO. As others have pointed out, their focus is not to average joe hiker. Their focus is providing services for the higher-income bracket, and those who would like to have a more "museum" type experience in the Whites. Yes, they maintain a lot of trails and yes they do quite a bit of work on land conservation. However, I just can't send my FIFTY dollars (yes, the rate went up) to a group that runs full-service businesses in the heart of the Whites. I can't support an organization that replaces an affordable hostel with a 100+ dollar a night hotel.

Research the AMC more and learn what they do that you agree with and what your don't agree with. Then decide if you share enough of their ideals to join the organizations. Clearly, I don't, but YMMV.

max patch
02-19-2004, 10:59
For example:

Total AMC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: More than 6 million dollars.
Total ATC salaries/wages paid out in 2002: Less than 1 1/2 million dollars.



Jack, that is an invalid comparison based upon the comparitive size and operations of the two entities.

AMC has revenues that exceed $21 million. ATC revenues are less the $4 million.

If one wanted to play devils advocate a case could be made that the AMC is actually a better steward of their resources. AMC only pays out 29% of their gross revenues as salary while the ATC pays 36%. The AMC Exec Director receives about 1% of gross revenues, while the ATC pays theirs twice as much, or 2%.

I'm obviously not suggesting that the AMC is more frugal than the ATC. Only that quick and dirty financial analyses like yours and mine are not valid because of the difference of the entities.

weary
02-19-2004, 12:47
The AMC is certainly not all bad, but it is more bad than good, IMO. As others have pointed out, their focus is not to average joe hiker. Their focus is providing services for the higher-income bracket, and those who would like to have a more "museum" type experience in the Whites. Yes, they maintain a lot of trails and yes they do quite a bit of work on land conservation. However, I just can't send my FIFTY dollars (yes, the rate went up) to a group that runs full-service businesses in the heart of the Whites. I can't support an organization that replaces an affordable hostel with a 100+ dollar a night hotel.

Aside from the "more bad than good" crack, I think Chomp has done a pretty fair analysis of AMC.

I would add only that AMC's good extends beyond "land conservation." When most of the hydroelectric dams in New England came up for licensing, AMC was the group that came forward and pushed for enforcement of the mostly ignored federal law that requires equal consideration of recreation facilities along with electricity generation.

AMC has staff scientists that research and call attention to the growing haze that obscures mountain vistas, it has an active diversity committee that seeks to encourage other than white upper middleclass folks to use the trails, an active and extremely important professional trail crew, and does good work with school groups.

I think the club was dumb to remove the hostel in Crawford Notch and not to replace it with another low cost facility. I'm hopeful that the error will be corrected sometime soon.

One reason I spend a lot of time at the Maine planning sessions is to keep the club from making the same mistake in Maine. I doubt if it's possible to keep a White Mountain style "hut" out of the 37,000 acre AMC holdings, though I'm still trying. Regardless, I want campsites for the rest of us peons.

Despite the ire they cause on this and other lists, the AMC huts are an insignificant part of the total use of the White Mountains. If the family story that I climbed my first mountain, The Imp, at age four is correct, I've been hiking in the White Mountains for 70 years. The only time I ever paid to use a full-service hut was during my walk from Georgia in 1993.

I suspect the same is true for the overwhelming majority of White Mountain hikers.

Weary

The Old Fhart
02-19-2004, 12:51
Some of the previous posters have disagreements on the question of whether the AMC or others have plans to build huts, shelters, or trails in western Maine. First, the AMC has a project to construct the “Grafton Notch Loop”. If you would like to see the AMC’s perspective in detail with a map, go to:
http://www.outdoors.org/publications/outdoors/2003/2003-trailtale-main.shtml
Basically this article describes the 42-mile loop trail that will include use of 8 miles of the A.T. from Old Speck to Baldpate in the Grafton Notch area. The eastern part of the trail with 5 campsites was opened in June, 2003 and the western part will be opened in 2005. The MATC, ATC, Outward Bound, and others have approved of the project according to the article.

According to The Portland Phoenix paper there is also a plan underway to create a wilderness hut system in Maine. The Western Mountains Foundation, a nonprofit community development corporation affiliated with the towns of Carrabassett Valley, Kingfield, and Eustis hopes to build twelve 5500-square-foot four-season huts at a cost of $425,000 each. These huts would be spread along a proposed 180-mile trail stretching from near the New Hampshire border to the shores of Moosehead Lake. Each hut would provide meals and lodging for up to 40 people at a cost of between $40 and $45 per night. To see details on this project, go to:
http://www.portlandphoenix.com/archive/features/02/12/13/outdoors.html

Obviously both these projects could be subject to changes and I’m sure that if the AMC’s project works well that some of the campsites on the Grafton Notch Loop could be replaced by huts or shelters. The Western Mountains Foundation plan is apparently just that, a plan, and may or may not be completed as stated in the article. I hope that the referenced articles shed some light on the discussion.

Chef2000
02-19-2004, 14:15
In defense of the 5 Joy St. property, I believe it was willed to them. The AMC was originally founded by Boston Brahmins, who were in fact wealthy. But in those days the only people interested in conservation of the outdoors where private groups. The government didnt care. I think that property was donated by someone back then. At any rate it theyve been there since 1922, if they bought it was cheap. Its not like they took the The forty dollar donations and all the six dollar camping fees and went and said"hey lets go buy a six million dollar mansion on Beacon Hill..hehehe..the poor saps think there giving to the wilderness."

If anyone knows the exact history of the property let me know.

weary
02-19-2004, 14:42
Obviously both these projects could be subject to changes and I’m sure that if the AMC’s project works well that some of the campsites on the Grafton Notch Loop could be replaced by huts or shelters. The Western Mountains Foundation plan is apparently just that, a plan, and may or may not be completed as stated in the article. I hope that the referenced articles shed some light on the discussion..

The Grafton Notch loop is unlikely to have either huts or shelters. Much of the loop is on private land and I haven't heard that it is for sale. Plus the terrain is probably not conducive to hut construction.

The rest of the Grafton Notch Loop, along with that section of the Appalachian Trail, is on Maine State public reserved lands -- lands Maine reserved when it sold its public domain between 1830 and 1850, and then forgot it owned until some nosy newspaper reporter dug up the fact in 1972. Half (about 450,000 acres) of the public land in Maine resulted from the recovery of the public reserve lands. Thanks to out of court settlements starting in 1973 and a Maine Supreme Court ruling in 1982, the scattered long lost 1,000-1,280-acre parcels were swapped for land with more public recreation values.

All of Maine's 40,000+ acre Mahoosuc Preserve, much of the Bigelow Preserve, part of the Nahmakanta Preserve, and scattered parcels elsewhere along the AT in Maine stem from the recovery of these long forgotten public lands.

As for the Western Maine Foundation plans, AMC talked with them about something in that area, but declined to participate, mostly, I understand, because AMC wanted to own the land and control the project, and the foundation objected. That project drew opposition, mostly because it would increase the pressure on the already overused Bigelow campsites at Horns Pond and Avery Col. I understand the hold up now, however, is financing.

MATC volunteers built the first section of the Grafton Notch loop over the past few years, with the help of AMC, which I understand acquired the helicopter that flew in bog bridge materials. AMC crews have made a start on the difficult terrain of the rest of the loop, but AMC won't be finished for another year or so.

Weary

TJ aka Teej
02-19-2004, 16:28
But this is too important a matter to allow total nonsense to be spread around without being responded to.
I agree. That's why I'm not very concerned about being called a liar by you when responding to posts about the AMC in Maine's 100 Mile Wilderness.

Congratulations on your award from the AMC. I'm sure it was well deserved.

The Old Fhart
02-19-2004, 16:31
Here is a little more information for those curious about the AMC and others wanting to build huts, shelters, campsites, or trails in western Maine. Check: http://www.meepi.org/files/010607tumbledo.shtml for an article on the AMC’s proposal to build three alpine huts in the Farmington, Maine area being put on hold as reported in 2001. This may be what another poster had referred to earlier. Another article on the Western Mountains Foundation’s proposed 180-mile trail and hut system and the impact on the Bigelows mentions that the Bigelow Preserve would be connected to two of the WMF huts by new side trails. This is reported at: http://www.meepi.org/files02/pa111402.htm .

What this and the other articles I’ve noted indicates is the AMC is seriously looking at western Maine with the possiblity of eventually having the sort of presence with huts, shelters, and campsites that it has in the White Mountains. Others like the Western Mountains Foundation are also interested in expanding the trail and hut system in that area.

MadRiver
02-19-2004, 16:46
Although I’m not a big fan of the Ritz Crawford, I do have to keep it in perspective. The old Crawford house that predated the hostel was considerable larger than the current structure. I also believe that once the urban elite that the AMC hopes to attract do not materialize in the numbers they hope, the AMC will have no choice but to try and woo back the general hiking community.

TJ aka Teej
02-19-2004, 17:07
Here is a little more information for those curious about the AMC and others wanting to build huts, shelters, campsites, or trails in western Maine. Check: http://www.meepi.org/files/010607tumbledo.shtml for an article on the AMC’s proposal to build three alpine huts in the Farmington, Maine area being put on hold as reported in 2001.
Any objective person reading this story will understand why the AMC is now so reluctant to make their plans in the 100 Mile Wilderness known.

weary
02-19-2004, 17:19
What this and the other articles I’ve noted indicates is the AMC is seriously looking at western Maine with the possiblity of eventually having the sort of presence with huts, shelters, and campsites that it has in the White Mountains. Others like the Western Mountains Foundation are also interested in expanding the trail and hut system in that area.

One should never say never about such matters, but I think the evidence is overwhelming that AMC has switched it's focus to the 100-mile-wilderness from the Western Mountains. That is what the Maine Chapter has been lead to understand by AMC land specialists and where AMC now has a major investment. Rumors are that the next major land sales may in the area near the 37,000 AMC acres. It's also where I hope AMC will expand its holdings.

The Western Mountain Foundation may yet achieve success with it's hut plans. But I don't think AMC will be involved.

Weary

MOWGLI
02-19-2004, 17:26
I'm just curious. Have any of you who keep referring to the Highland Center as the "Ritz Crawford" actually stayed there? I have, and I gotta tell you, I was impressed with what I saw. I think they did a very good job of building an ecologically friendly structure on the former site of a large hotel. Compared to the huts, the place is luxurious. Compared to the Ritz Carlton, the place is a hut.

I was impressed enough with the Staff and Volunteers that I met, that I joined the AMC while staying there for a Leadership Training Institute.

For the record, I don't drive a Mercedes or make an obscene amount of money.

Jeffrey Hunter

Kozmic Zian
02-19-2004, 18:13
Yea.....rant & rave! I'am with you on that Iceman. Obviously the AMC has a tremendous amount of financial and fiscal responsibilty. To compromise that by 'ranting & raving' because the AMC dosen't fund the way you would, without thorough investigation of all facets involved here, is like diving into an empty pool. Rather superfluous and a non-sequeter. I would like to hear what an official with the AMC could offer of these testiments. I wonder if they(officer of AMC) would present such a one sided offing, such as some of our distinguished colleges have.
I'm sure there are many reasons the AMC chooses to spread the money around like they do. Go to a few meetings, understand the AMC's philosophy on Wilderness, read their proposals and attachments, read their minutes, talk with active members and officers. Then, maybe you could form some semblance of a logical criticism of the inner workings of this complex organization. For those who have already done these things and formed a solid opinion, based on accumulated knowledge and experience, let these things be known. Then I'll listen, [email protected]

'It's So Easy To Criticize, And Hard To Pass Blessings'.....anonomous

rickb
02-19-2004, 21:57
'It's So Easy To Criticize, And Hard To Pass Blessings'.....anonomous[/QUOTE]


First a complement. The Highland Center has an amazing display of B&W photos taken by Brad Washburn. They are second to none, and worthy of a special trip. They are just that good. Some look to be about 5 feet square. I'd go so far as to say they would be worth a walk from the AT even if you couldn't get a hitch. Did I say they were good?

My reaction to the Center was a bit different than Jeffery's however. Perhaps because it represented so much of the AMC's efforts over the past few years. Years when I was a member.

Some of my reaction is purely selfish. Most, actually. When I was single, I think I would have looked at $59 to for a clean bunk in the company of like minded weekenders to represent value. But those days are over. Now it would cost me $199 to stay just one night at the center in a private room with my wife. If we were in bunks it would cost $118 a night. Seems like a lot, even though they feed one well. I save my White Mountain binge eating for Sunday Brunch at the Eagle Mountain house-- otherwise its a bagel and coffee for breakfast. Not much more for dinner. Value for some, yes. For me, no way. I don't even want to think of how people with kids react to the prices.

What to do this time of year? In my case the answer is simple-- a clean (more or less) $38 hotel room for 2, and a loss of some sense of community.

The Highland Center could be more, to more people, I think. Beyond the prices, I think of how cool it is to see the winter climbers packing up thier gear in the pack room at Pinkham Notch, and contrast that buzz with the sight of ice climbers getting ready for Frankenstein Cliff at the trunks of thier cars just down the road from the Highland Center. They might be inclined to do that anyway, but somehow I think is emblamatic of how the AMC came up short.

It could change, though. If only the members demanded it. Its not like building has a mortgage that needs to be paid off.

Rick B

Tinker
02-19-2004, 23:05
The AMC is certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Sure there are a lot of wealthy people who belong. I know a number of people who hold professional white collar jobs. Most of them are wonderful people. Many of them donate their time to lead hikes and perform trail work. I know a few who are employed by state and federal environmental departments. Many enjoy the experience of "roughing it" as I do. Some wouldn't go to the mountains if the huts were not there, and the AMC would be, (financially, at least), poorer for it.

As much as some people complain about the AMC charging so much for the use of their facilities, one can't help but wonder how much money those facilities need just to operate. Basic utilities for hundreds of people, food for the same, sewage treatment, etc. Though too pricey for me to use, I can see how they are attractive with people of means. If they can afford to stay, God bless them.

If it weren't for the fact that the AMC opposes much unnecessary development in the north woods, and needs money to do it, I could not see supporting them. Socially, I am NOT one of them. I barely make ends meet. I assist in a beginner XC ski class for them once a year. I am a sometimes member, depending on whether or not I can scrape together the cash to join.

In summary, the AMC needs money to protect the environment in the Whites. Wealthy people give them that money through membership and use of their facilities and classes. As long as the AMC puts stewardship of nature before expanding of their chain of facilities, I have no problem with them. They may be, in the minds of some, hypocritical, but, truth be told, if they had to rely on poor saps like me for financial support, they'd be history by now.

screwysquirrel
02-20-2004, 00:32
Been reading thur here and noticed that alot of people said $40.00 a year for dues, they said in their letter it was $50.00 single and $75.00 for family. Not too bad but after reading thru all these posts, I've decided just to stay with the ATC. I'm really not too crazy about the Whites anyway. I would much rather hike the southern part of the AT.

Blue Jay
02-20-2004, 09:02
I think the club was dumb to remove the hostel in Crawford Notch and not to replace it with another low cost facility. I'm hopeful that the error will be corrected sometime soon.



Even you the AMC PR man cannot honestly believe there is any chance they will correct this "error". Does anyone else in the AMC think the Ritz Crawford was an error, I don't think so. Again, I hope your Polyanna attitude about this corporation is correct.

MOWGLI
02-20-2004, 09:04
My reaction to the Center was a bit different than Jeffery's however. Perhaps because it represented so much of the AMC's efforts over the past few years. Years when I was a member.

Some of my reaction is purely selfish. Most, actually. When I was single, I think I would have looked at $59 to for a clean bunk in the company of like minded weekenders to represent value. But those days are over. Now it would cost me $199 to stay just one night at the center in a private room with my wife. If we were in bunks it would cost $118 a night. Seems like a lot, even though they feed one well. I save my White Mountain binge eating for Sunday Brunch at the Eagle Mountain house-- otherwise its a bagel and coffee for breakfast. Not much more for dinner. Value for some, yes. For me, no way. I don't even want to think of how people with kids react to the prices.



Thanks for your reply Rick. I understand your concerns. With my wife, she is not the "roughing-it type". That might have something to do with the Lyme Disease she contracted in the early 90's while picking blueberries with me in Sterling Forest in New York.

When I travel with my family, they generally like accomodations that are more posh than me. Stike that. They always like accomodations that are more posh than me. One of our trips to Costa Rica comes to mind. I thought this one place was amazing. My daughters were nearly traumatized by the experience. Too many bugs, and "funny smells". My then 16 y.o. ended up with a few spider bites in her scalp. It nearly ruined the entire trip for her, even though the bites were nothing more than small itchy bumps.

Oh well....

chomp
02-20-2004, 10:32
For those who have already done these things and formed a solid opinion, based on accumulated knowledge and experience, let these things be known.
I don't quite understand what you are looking for here, Zian. I figured that the "AMC caters to a high-income bracket" argument is a solid one. But I have a few more things to add.

First, their argument for the full-service huts is a flawed one. If you ask the AMC (and I have) how they justify running full service huts in the heart of the Whites, you will get a response something like: "The location of the huts is designed to concentrate impact. Instead of people camping out all over the trails, the huts serve to focus the impact in a few locations." Which might be true.. if any of the people staying at the huts would actually camp out.

In general, the full-service huts attract people that would normally not want to camp out. You can argue that this is a good thing or not, since it allows older people to spend a night in the woods without a full pack, or it allows a more comfortable experience. What you CANNOT argue is that is concentrates impact - the huts clearly ATTRACT impact to an area. For the AMC to cling to the notion that their huts are an environmentally friendly operation is a joke.

As for the campsites, those fees are rather ridiculous as well. As has been pointed out, a family of four sharing one tent platform will get charged $32 for one night. That is more than a campgroud site with showers and facilities.

Think that the AMC is in financial straights? Think that they REALLY dont make that much money after all is said and done? Think that they need all the income that they can scrape up?

http://www.guidestar.org/controller/searchResults.gs?action_gsReport=1&npoId=223306

Well, they made over $4 million dollars in 2001. I tried to find more up-to-date figures, but that is the latest financial information that I could locate on the web.

Also, the Highland Center - BIG mistake. How can the organization justify charging membership dues of $50 per person per year when they go ahead and build a luxury hotel? You have to ask yourself - are you going to use this new facility? Are you excited about this new facility? Are you willing to pay another $10 a year for this facility? Now, if the dues went DOWN because of the money they generate from the Crawford Ritz, well thats at least a bonus from the perspective of someone who has no intention of using that facility. But to PAY for it? No thanks.

Another reason the Highland Center was a big mistake is that it replaced a facility that was designed as an economical alternative for hikers. And I am really sick and tired of hearing how the Highland Center is SO much smaller than the giant hotel that was there "back in the day." You know what? Backpackers used to burry their trash "back in the day." They used to cut bows of pine to sleep on, and drink water straight from a stream, and carry canvas tents... "back in the day." I would expect a better argument for the Highland Centers creation than: "Well, its not nearly as bad as it could have been." The Highland Center could have been great, with facilities designed for all. They could have even build a seperate section for a hiker hostel, so as to seperate the untouchables from the Beemer crowd. But they didn't. In fact, you can't even PARK in the highland center parking lot if you want to hike. You must park on the Mt Clinton Rd.. in a parking lot that is out of sight. The message the AMC is sending here is clear - dirty hikers have no place at the Highland Center.

I could go on.. and I will if I have to. But I think that I have outlined some logical reasons why I don't agree with the AMC and why I refuse to support the organization. Also, it is why I am skeptical about everything that the AMC does. It has demonstrated a willingness to lie about its intentions and its motivations.

This isnt to say that the AMC is totally valueless. Obviously they do quite a bit of work in the areas of conservation and trail maintenance. However, my ideals and the AMC's ideals are too far apart for me to support the organization. And I'd love to join a crew for a weekend of trail maintenance, but I don't have the extra $150 to spend... yes, they charge over $100 (not sure on the exact figure) if you want to VOLUNTEER to maintain trails.

But, that is just my opinion :)

-chomp

The Old Fhart
02-20-2004, 13:17
Originally Posted by Chomp: "In general, the full-service huts attract people that would normally not want to camp out. You can argue that this is a good thing or not, since it allows older people to spend a night in the woods without a full pack, or it allows a more comfortable experience."

Please, Chomp, don’t pick on me because I’m an “older” hiker. Check the demographics of the hut users and I think you’ll find that hut users are younger than you would guess. But I do know what you mean. I have been the only hiker in the “dungeon” at Lakes of the Clouds hut when the upstairs was filled with 96 people who would rather pay full price than carry a little extra gear. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, a lot of people use the huts as part of their vacation so the cost of staying at the huts is no different than paying to go to Disneyland and they both can be entertaining. The AMC also justifies the huts from the safety, education, and research standpoint.

As to the AMC’s financial picture, there was a period when the club was in deep trouble. Apparently the main problem was that they had bought the Crawford site (where the Highland Center now stands) which was hugely expensive and the mortgage was killing them. If I recall the reason for buying the land was to protect it from development or having someone build a hotel on the site. By the way, the AMC is accepting applications for volunteer “ambassadors” at the Highland Center to give tours, engage guest in educational programs, etc.. If you would like to apply for a training session, contact the AMC. No cost for the training session was mentioned.

Also keep in mind that to rebuild a hut requires that current environmental and other standards be met. When Galehead Hut was rebuilt it had to have handicap accessible bathrooms and wheelchair ramps for mobility impaired hikers in order to meet government standards. Obviously this is a complex issue and the huts aren’t going to disappear. Any campsite will cause environmental damage and this is an issue we all have to be concerned about.

One hut system that hasn’t been mentioned and I personally think it is a model system, is run by the Randolph Mountain Club. The RMC owns and runs the shelters on the north side of the northern Presidentials which includes Gray Knob Shelter, the Perch, Crag Camp, and others. While it is grantedly small, the RMC does an excellent job providing low-cost facilities for hikers.

Just something else to think about.

weary
02-20-2004, 14:33
Does anyone else in the AMC think the Ritz Crawford was an error? I don't think so. Again, I hope your Polyanna attitude about this corporation is correct.

Believe me, scores -- thousands -- of AMC members think Highlands an error. It's the primary reason for the skepticism over the Maine purchase. I've driven by, but I've never gone inside. I will now that Rick has told us about the photographs.

But I've never stayed at a place with such room fees and I doubt if I ever will. I too am a $38 a night motel person -- and then only when I can't find a place to set up my tent. I've gone to the biennial ATC conferences since 1995. I've yet to sleep inside at one of the conferences. I spent but one night in a motel ($28) during my six months on the trail in '93. It's obvious to me that attendence at the AMC-hosted conference was about half that of the MATC-hosted conferece four years earlier because of legitimate antagonism against AMC by the general hiking community.

I'm participating in the planning for the new AMC Maine land to make sure facilities are available for cheap skates (and poor people?) like me. AMC is a human institution. It's not all right, nor all wrong. I support the good things the club does, work to correct the bad things and endeavor to ensure that new decisions are wiser than past decisions.

If this makes me a PR pollyanna, sobeit.

Weary