Dan Firth – Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Volunteer of the Month

Congratulations to Dan on being the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Volunteer of the Month for August 2017.

Dan Firth has volunteered 500 hours on the Appalachian Trail with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club. He has served on its A.T. committee, monitored rare plants, and recently became an A.T. section maintainer. He monitors seven phenology sites along his Trail section, which involves tracking and reporting seasonal changes in the life cycle of the species being monitored. Since retiring from the Eastman Chemical Company last year, he has eagerly taken on more responsibilities.
Matt Drury, ATC’s Southern regional resource management coordinator, says, “Dan is our most prolific rare-plant monitor in the region, and often seeks new populations to monitor. He is also helping us monitor for ash trees and the emerald ash borer and will be surveying most of the likely ash sites on the Trail in Tennessee this year. This information will help managers prioritize areas for treatment against the emerald ash borer.”
This year, Dan and Matt are conducting a campsite survey of Roan Mountain, covering more than 20 miles along the Trail. The Roan Highlands area has the highest concentration of rare species found along the entire A.T. They are surveying areas impacted by camping, classifying the ground cover into condition classes, and looking at canopy cover, exposed soil, and other conditions. The next step will be to analyze the data and develop a report for Trail managers.
Dan lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, with his wife and their son and daughter. A section hiker, he has completed the Trail from the Springer Mountain approach trail to Front Royal, Virginia. He was involved in Boy Scouts as a youth and with his son, and he continues to be involved with the Sequoyah Council. Besides the opportunities for outdoor experiences and education, Dan says that the Scouting emphasis on service and volunteering often has an impact that carries into adulthood.
Dan most enjoys monitoring the rare plant populations and appreciates the ability to make a difference as a volunteer: “Having a scientific basis for decision-making through observation and analyzing impacts on rare plants and on the biodiversity of an area is key to protecting them.” The data he is gathering will provide important information to Trail managers on protecting rare plants.

3rd Saturday Maintenance – Hiking with Tools!

Contact: Kim Peters, atmaint@tehcc.org, 423-366-0128

Hiking with Tools! is an opportunity to enjoy a day hike on our beautiful section of the A.T. while helping out with some routine maintenance, such as breaking up fire rings, cleaning out waterbars and steps, lopping rhododendron, and painting blazes.  All tools will be furnished and no prior experience required! Last year we typically had four to five people on each trip – with eight new volunteers making a contribution.  Contact Kim for hike details, including meeting time and place.

Garlic Mustard Challenge – Sat. May 2

In 2015, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is challenging itself and volunteers (link) to pull 2,189 pounds of the invasive plant, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), from the Trail corridor (one pound for every A.T. mile). In the south, we’ll need to pull garlic mustard in April, before it goes to seed. This event is to tackle a known infestation around Devils Creek Gap, north of Spivey Gap. The control work will be completed by hand-pulling as the plants are small and removed easily. The weeds will be bagged and weighed before proper disposal. Appropriate equipment for the day includes work gloves, boots or sturdy shoes, and suitable attire for variable spring weather plus lunch and water.

Maintenance Summary:

The goal of one pound per trail mile was almost achieved in a single day.  Four large, heavy duty trash bags were filled with 129 pounds of blooming garlic mustard plants pulled from along the north-bound trail, at the USFS road crossing and a couple of side spurs, and along a nearby clearing edge.  In addition, three smaller bags of aluminum cans for recycling and trash for disposal were hauled out.  A steady stream of backpackers passed through this gap – with a few stopping to learn about invasive species.  The club will need to return next year to continue breaking the biennial cycle for garlic mustard.

2014 Damascus Hard Core

Carl Fritz reporting

It always seems that the volunteers (hikers, club maintainers and friends) exceed expectations during Damascus Hard Core. And the volunteers did so again for this 14th annual event. This year’s hikers enthusiastically signed up. In fact 68 were signed up in the first two hours Friday morning of Trail Days and only 50 was the target. However, fewer returning hikers came to Trail Days and we also target 50 of them. Then surprisingly with good weather many hikers did not show up Sunday morning for departure from Damascus. Continue reading “2014 Damascus Hard Core”

Wilderness Rally September 6th – Hampton, TN

September marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Wilderness Act. Join the Wilderness Society’s Southern Appalachian Wilderness
Stewards (SAWS) program and the US Forest Service in celebrating! Two events will mark the occasion. Both will convene at the Watauga Point Recreation Area in Hampton TN on September 6th. Trail maintenance will be from 9am to 4pm at which point it will become the actual celebration of food, crosscut sawing, storytelling, games, etc. See the two attachments for the details.

Stewardship Rally Flier

Wilderness Rally Watauga Point

13th Annual Nolichucky River Cleanup & Celebration, June 21st

apes

APE’s are hosting their 13th annual event on Saturday, June 21st, 2014.  Meet at U.S.A. Raft, 2 Jones Branch Rd, Erwin, TN starting at 11AM.  Participants will be assigned to teams plus provided with maps, trash bags and gloves. There are clean-up opportunities for both those with their own boats or rafts – and shore crews.  Be prepared with appropriate footwear, sunscreen, bug repellant, etc. Rafts, pickup trucks, and trailers will be helpful and much appreciated. Consider bringing a packed lunch, boating equipment, rain gear, chairs, family, and friends.  Showers and restrooms are available at the campground.  For cleanup participants, a free BBQ dinner from Texas Roadhouse of Johnson City will be served at 6PM with live music by the Chaz Spence Trio and prize drawings.  Bring a lawn chair, kick back with a cold tasty beverage, and know that you did something good for the river we all enjoy so much!

Event Contact: Debbie Briscoe (423)-534-3636     ldcakes@hotmail.com

Event website: http://regions.​worldkayak.com/​tri-cities/2014​/05/14/nolichuc​ky-river-cleanu​p-and-celebrati​on/

2013 Damascus Hard Core

Carl Fritz reporting

This 13th annual Damascus Hard Core event was Sunday, May 19th and Monday, May 20st.  It was preceded by the tragic event at Damascus Trail Days during the parade on Saturday when 50 people were injured by a car.  Everyone experienced more obstacles including rainy weather during the Hard Core event.  But Monday ended spectacularly with everyone happy. Continue reading “2013 Damascus Hard Core”