Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adopt-A-Trail and Campsite Volunteers Needed

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting for volunteers to participate in two essential programs that help Park staff maintain the resources in the backcountry for a better visitor experience and to reduce potential human/animal conflicts. The Adopt-a-Trail (AAT) and Adopt-a-Campsite (AAC) programs are long-established activities in the national park and new recruits are always needed to cover the half-million acres within its boundaries. A training/orientation session has been scheduled for each of the programs to instruct on the specific duties associated with them.

AAT volunteers will aid in the Park’s 800-mile trail system, covering everything from picking up litter to removing treefalls and reporting trail problems to the Park. Specific trail assignments include collecting and removing litter; cleaning waterbars and drainage systems; performing brushing and removal of small windfalls or branches (hand tools only) and minor trail tread maintenance; removing illegal campsites and fire rings found along trail; and inspecting trail signs.

AAC volunteers will perform a variety of duties associated with the Park’s 100 backcountry campsites. These duties involve removal of litter and garbage in and around the campsites and dismantling illegal fire rings, as well as monitoring the condition of the food storage cables. Light rehabilitation of the site and removal of fallen debris are also part of the responsibilities.

Another important function for both programs will be to assist visitors with needed information and promote Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. AAT and AAC volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and in good physical condition. They are expected to hike/patrol their trail(s) and visit their campsite(s) at least eight times per program year-- March through October and complete a written report to the Park after each site visit.

AAT training will be held Saturdays, April 9 (TN) and June 11 (NC), and AAC training on Sundays, April 10 (TN) and June 12 (NC). All training is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and information regarding the training location will be provided once registered.

In order to attend, participants must register with Christine Hoyer, Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator at (828) 497-1949. For the April training, the registration deadline is March 25. For the June training, the registration deadline is May 27.


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