In Virginia, McAfee Knob is the Appalachian Trail's poster and postcard image. Pick up an Appalachian Trail calendar and there's a good chance it's there. This is a task force created by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) to help save McAfee's Knob from overuse.
In general, the goals of the Task Force align with the goals of the Ridgerunner program, and the Task Force will launch as an on-trail (or in-parking-lot) presence. However, unlike Ridgerunners, members could also take on other roles, such as public outreach (E.g. media attention, signage, brochures), serving as a liason between current partners, and engaging other potential partners in the region with an interest in McAfee Knob (e.g. tourism, parks & rec, etc)
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Ridgerunner program provides environmental education to the Trail's users and a management presence on the most heavily traveled sections of the Appalachian Trail during periods of peak use.
In addition to being the public face of A.T. management, Ridgerunners serve a vital function as the eyes and ears for maintaining clubs, ATC, and agency partners.
Ridgerunners prevent and mitigate resource damage and protect the A.T. experience by:
-Educating trail users in Leave No Trace principles
-Cultivating a stewardship ethic, and recruiting members and volunteers for clubs and ATC
-Tracking and reporting usage trends and incidents
-Preventing minor damage from becoming major: removing trash, eliminating illegal campsites by destroying fire rings and naturalizing, reporting and mitigating vandalism and sanitation issues
-Reporting urgent trail maintenance issues to maintainers and land management agencies
- Preventing emergencies through safety education, and assisting when emergencies occur
-Assist and supplement the efforts of the Ridgerunners
-Education: Leave No Trace, awareness of the A.T. (general knowledge/ legacy of volunteer stewardship), volunteer recruitment and capacity building for RATC
-Presence on the trail, in the parking lot, and in the community
-Parking lot especially: “crowd control” (suggest other hikes when lot is full, request large groups split up), catching folks who are unprepared to prevent emergencies, discouraging party animals, general site info (trail is across the road!)
Expectations/Requirements for Task Force members
-Attend one day required training, to be led by Kathryn and Ridgerunners with potential participation from other partners. Topics will include A.T. cooperative management, safety, Leave No Trace principles and education/communication techniques, basic reporting, incident reporting, local partners and management background
-Commit to volunteer 6 weekend days in 2015 (generally Sat/Sun, though potential for Fridays and Mondays on holiday weekends). Ideally one day a month for 6 months.
-Commit to coordinate with Ridgerunners and complete a simple report form after volunteering
-Duties can be tailored to a volunteer’s strengths and interests. Some may prefer to hike, while others prefer to post up in the parking lot. Some may prefer to talk to hikers, others may prefer to do maintenance tasks like break up fire rings, brush in social trails, and pack out trash.