The Virginia Environmental Endowment has awarded a $22,000 grant to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to support the Appalachian Trail Community program in Virginia. During the 2011 granting period, the ATC plans to accept at least five new communities from Virginia into the growing network of designated trail-side communities.
Through this grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment, the A.T. Communities program will expand its capacity by developing volunteer training, communication tools, program website and other resources to support local communities.
The Appalachian Trail Community program, managed by the ATC, provides tools and support to local communities that capitalize on the Trail as a community asset for tourism and outdoor recreation. The program is designed to provide an incentive for conservation of the Trail’s signature landscapes while giving communities the opportunity to grow rural economies that sustain rural heritage and quality of life. Launched in 2010, this program will ensure long-term stewardship and protection for the Appalachian Trail.
One quarter of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and its 280,000-acre land base traverse the Commonwealth of Virginia, protecting a 550-mile swath of the state’s natural resources, scenic beauty, and rich biodiversity. In addition, the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.) provides an unforgettable outdoor experience to an estimated four million visitors each year, including many local residents who use the Trail for physical and spiritual renewal. In Virginia, the Trail slices through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Shenandoah National Park, offering ecological and economic benefits to 23 Virginia counties. With the millions that visit the Trail every year, as well as its international iconic status, it's no wonder that outfitters, restaurants and businesses catering to outdoor recreation call A.T. communities home.