IAT Attends 2017 ATC Biennial

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy held the workshop and business component of its 2017 Biennial Conference at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, between Friday, August 4th and Sunday, August 5th. 
The International Appalachian Trail was well-represented by a North American contingent, including Maine Chapter Board Members Dick Anderson, Don Hudson, Earl Raymond, and Herb Hartman, as well as Poul Jorgensen from New Brunswick and Paul Wylezol from Newfoundland.
(L-R) Dick Anderson, Earl Raymond, Don Hudson and Paul Wylezol at the IAT booth
The IAT workshops were well attended, beginning with a presentation by Poul Jorgensen of Sentier NB Trails, which included a nice glimpse of the new southern route for the IAT -- from Perth Andover to St. John, and on to southeastern New Brunswick and the links to PEI and Nova Scotia.  The IAT is a bit like the Silk Road, as it is a network of trails that lead from Maine through Atlantic Canada to the North American terminus at Crow Head, Newfoundland, overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage site at L'anse aux Meadows.
IAT New Brunswick's Poul Jorgensen discussing the southern route
IAT International Council co-chair Paul Wylezol followed up with an overview of IAT development across Europe, as well as an in-depth introduction to the Global Geopark system, now a UNESCO program on par with Man and the Biosphere and World Heritage program.  Paul focused on 'Drifting Apart', the EU-funded collaboration of Geoparks around the North Atlantic Ocean Basin, which were inspired -- he suspects -- by the organizing geologic principles of the IAT.  There are two Canadian partners in Drifting Apart, including Stonehammer Geopark in southwestern New Brunswick and Cabox Aspiring Geopark in Western Newfoundland, named after the highest point on the island and featuring the special tectonic history of the Bay of Islands and Humber Valley.   

Drifting Apart Website

Central to IAT Newfoundland's focus for the next few years is the 250th anniversary of James Cook surveying the coastline adjacent to the IAT and his subsequent selection by the British Admiralty and Royal Society to lead a voyage to the South Pacific to witness the transit of Venus and search for the fabled southern continent. 
James Cook Map

James Cook 250 Website


The afternoon workshop focused on the IAT in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Dick Anderson opened with the history of IAT Maine's relationship with landowner Roxanne Quimby in 2004, and the succession of land acquisition, trail, and campsite building that brings us to the present time.

Don Hudson and Earl Raymond then filled out Dick's outline, and left the audience with a good understanding of how IAT Maine Board Members helped to explore and interpret the rich human and natural history of the East Branch lands in advance of the gift by Roxanne of 89,000 acres to the nation, and President Obama's official designation of the monument on August 24, 2016.
Don Hudson speaking at ATC Biennial
 Don Hudson discusses Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (click to enlarge)
Some people expressed concern about the status of the monument under review by current Department of Interior Secretary Zinke.  Don shared his confidence in the process, and his expectation that though some specific recommendations may result for Zinke's review, such as the development of a model, working forest for a 13,000 acre parcel in the northeast corner of the monument, the overall status will remain unchanged.  In fact, Secretary Zinke stated flatly that the best outcome might be for the monument to move as quickly as possible to National Park status. Readers of this space should stay tuned! 
Just as the morning session created a bit of a buzz about exploring Atlantic Canada, the afternoon session left participants wanting to have a closer look at places such as Stair Falls, Thoreau's Checkerberry Campsite, or the Old Keep Path, which was surveyed shortly after statehood on order by the Maine Legislature to flesh out the route for a wagon road from the east to the top of Katahdin -- not to be out done by the Mt. Washington Road.
ALDHA Reception
 Sunday's ALDHA Reception (click to enlarge)
The business and workshop component of the conference concluded largely Sunday evening, with the traditional reception for long distance thru-hikers, hosted this year by the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association and the IAT.  Dick lead off the reception with high praise for retired ATC Executive Director David Startzell. 
Dave Startzell (center left) with Herb Hartman (center right)
Dick said of Dave, "His determination and leadership skills resulted in the United States government acquiring thousands of parcels of land along the AT trailway and making the AT a permanent feature of the American landscape.  He will be forever remembered for that remarkable accomplishment.  Dave also made a great contribution to the project to create the International Appalachian Trail.  He was the speaker at the first international meeting and quoting from his presentation 'As a representative of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, I am here today both to offer encouragement and to offer assistance, in so far as we can share our nearly 70 years of experience in long-distance trail development and management.'" 
Dick Anderson discussing David Startzell's accomplishments with the ATC
Don and Paul then presented Dave with a framed certificate as one of IAT Maine's first class of Honorary Directors.  Dave joins Governor Joe Brennan, founding treasurer Bill Nichols, and the indomitable Torrey Sylvester, who almost single-handedly acquired 8 of our 9 lean-tos as outright donations from Katahdin Log Homes.  This first group of Honorary Directors is an exemplary band of friends and champions of the trail.
David Startzell certificate
 IAT certificate presented to David Startzell (click to enlarge)
Conference goers will stay in the Waterville area through August 11th to enjoy field trips and a variety of half- and day-long workshops on a range of aspects of trail building and maintenance, as well as search and rescue and other aspects of organizational responsibility and leadership.
When the inaugural AT Vista moves to Ramapo College, New Jersey  in 2020, the IAT will be there!