The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will celebrate the official designation of Bland County, Virginia as its newest Appalachian Trail Community™ on May 26th at the Bland County Fairgrounds. A full day of celebratory activities is planned as a part of the county’s inaugural Festival of Trails.
Starting at 10:00am, guided hikes along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) with the local Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers club and a bike race through the county will kick off a day of music and dance, followed by the A.T. Community designation ceremony at 5:30pm at the Bland County Fairgrounds. Local volunteers are working collaboratively to bring awareness to the Trail and to the communities about the national resource. The ATC and community leaders will speak, with a proclamation-signing and an unveiling of new community signs.
The Appalachian Trail Community™ designation is a new program of the ATC, the nonprofit responsible for management and protection of the estimated 2,185-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Launched in 2010, this program recognizes communities for their part in promoting awareness of the Appalachian Trail as an important local and national asset.
Designation as an Appalachian Trail Community™ and participation in the program is aimed to:
• Engage community residents, Trail visitors, and stewards
• Thank communities for their decades of service to hikers
• Act as a catalyst for sustainable economic development
• Aid municipalities and regional areas with conservation planning initiatives
• Promote the Trail as a community resource and asset
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate communities that are helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” states Julie Judkins, Community Program Manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “These new partnerships will increase local stewardship of public lands, support community initiatives for sustainable economic development and conservation planning as well as support healthy lifestyles for community citizens.”