our Recent Work
We are proud to share with you these snapshots of just some of our conservation work this last year. Across the region and in every program, we are advancing AMC’s mission of promoting the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Appalachian region.
Speak Up for the Outdoors
Land & Water
AMC Cheers Highlands Conservation Act Renewal and Full Funding
In March of 2018 Congress renewed the popular Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) for seven more years, as well as providing $10 million this year through the Highlands program to fund open space projects in the Mid-Atlantic region. First passed in 2004 spearheaded by AMC, the HCA allows Congress to allocate money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for important land protection efforts in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. When the HCA expired in 2014, AMC led the charge to reauthorize it. Projects under the HCA have received more than $47 million of federal LWCF dollars to-date and have protected more than 7,000 acres of valuable landscapes across the region.
Massachusetts Passes Legislation Directing $2.4 Billion to Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental Protection, and Community Investments
In August of 2018 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed legislation that authorizes $501 million to respond to and prepare for extreme weather, sea level rise, inland flooding and other climate impacts. It also authorized $665 million to enable investment in deferred maintenance and recreational resource stewardship across state government – including $25 million for the expansion and interconnection of trails through the MassTrails program and $400 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation recreational facilities across the Commonwealth.
Celebrating the Centennial of the White Mountain National Forest
In honor of 100 years of partnership with the WMNF, and 50 years of the National Scenic Trails Act, in August AMC hosted a celebratory gathering at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch. Hosted by AMC President and CEO John Judge, the event featured the then-Acting (now permanent) Chief of the US Forest Service Vicki Christiansen, Deputy Director of the National Park Service Dan Smith, and WMNF Supervisor Clare Mendolsohn, and included a roundtable of elected officials, local outdoor recreation business owners, and conservation colleagues discussing the economic impact and importance of New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation economy.
Connecticut Voters Approve Question #2 to Protect State Parks
On November 6th voters in Connecticut passed ballot Question 2, which requires a public hearing and a 2/3rds vote by the General Assembly before the sale, swap, or donation of state parks and forests, wildlife management areas, and state-owned agricultural lands. According to Protect CT Public Lands, a non-profit created to advance the measure, state parks and forests in Connecticut attract more than 8 million visitors per year, generate more than $1 billion in revenue for the state and support more than 9,000 jobs every year.
Ecological Atlas of the Upper Androscoggin River Watershed, 2nd edition published
In 2003 the AMC Research Department, led by former Director of Research Ken Kimball and Senior Staff Scientist Dave Publicover, published the Ecological Atlas of the Upper Androscoggin River Watershed. This award-winning document provided a comprehensive overview of the natural landscape and was intended to serve as an educational resource. The original Atlas was widely distributed to local libraries and organizations. Fifteen years later, new information and changes in the landscape were the incentive to update the Atlas. The second edition includes extensive new information on watersheds and hydrology, climate change, energy development, timber harvesting, recreational resources, forest carbon sequestration, and changes in land use, ownership, and conservation. It will be distributed free of charge to libraries and organizations within the watershed.
Protecting Significant Views Along the Pennsylvania Circuit Trails system
AMC researchers published a pilot of the Pennsylvania Circuit Trails Visual Assessment Project in 2018, with final reports for nearly 30 trail segments soon to be completed. The project is assessing several of the multi-use Circuit Trails of Greater Philadelphia focused on identifying potential land conservation opportunities within the trail’s viewshed based on a conservation assessment that scores and ranks priority lands. The results will guide local land protection conservation efforts related to preserving the visual ambiance of their trail systems. Learn more about the trail visual assessment project on the Pennsylvania Highlands website and blog.
Celebrating 8 Years With New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates Paid Youth Crew
Concluding its eighth year of partnership, the New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates program (NH-JAG) and the AMC had another successful season of trail stewardship and hands-on job skill development with Berlin and Woodsville High Schools. Ten students from Berlin and five from Woodsville completed meaningful trail work with local and federal partners. Through their excellent work on these lands, NH-JAG students learned and practiced practical job skills and positive work habits. Additionally, these students gained awareness of career opportunities in the trades, and in outdoor resource management and recreation.
Rocks from Remote Talus Field Help Upgrade Crawford Path
The Crawford Path turns 200 years old in 2019 and is the oldest continuously maintained footpath in the United States. In anticipation of the milestone, almost 30 weeks of trail work went into the trail in 2018. AMC’s Professional Trail Crew spent 9 weeks working on the trail, including a week of alpine work and coordinating a spring airlift, flying rocks from remote talus fields onto a mile-long section of trail in the alpine zone where good rocks were scarce.
Trails Receive Major Upgrades at AMC’s Mohican Outdoors Center
After months of planning we celebrated a successful National Public Lands day with over 80 volunteers and more than 100 people including staff from various organizations. The amount of work tackled in only 3 hours was amazing. The beginning of revamping the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail was completed with the installation of nearly 200 feet of new bog bridges, 4,500 square feet of tread clearing (cleaning ditch lines), and the cleaning of many existing drains. The corridor on the access trails for the council ring fire pit, and the Place Beyond Campsite was widened dramatically, giving smooth access to these areas. The installation of several new drainages was completed on the Appalachian Trail, to help prevent ongoing erosion, and to conform to modern sustainable trail standards. Finally, we completed a massive effort with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to naturalize a large impacted area of illegal campsites off both sides of the Appalachian Trail heading south from the Mohican Outdoors Center.
Trail Work Success on the Bay Circuit Trail
AMC had another successful year of trail work on the Bay Circuit Trail. This season we continued partnerships with our youth crews, both AMC’s Youth Opportunities Program, and the Groundwork Lawrence Green Team. These teens worked through extreme heat and torrential downpours to improve the trail on the North Shore. We also continued our traditional Saturday trail work parties, running 3 in the spring, and 3 in the fall at different locations along the trail. Find out more by reading the Bay Circuit Trail End of Season Report.
Morris County New Jersey Trail Inventory and Assessment
AMC completed a comprehensive trail inventory and assessment of Lewis Morris Park under contract with the Morris County Park Commission in New Jersey. The Commission recognized that some of their managed areas suffered from high use and heavy impacts, and the multiple-use nature of many trails could lead to inadequate or inappropriate trail conditions and potential user conflicts. This baseline inventory, presented in a 70-page report with detailed GIS coverage of deficiencies and recommended remedies, is intended to serve as a foundation for establishing a prototypical model that can serve the planning and management needs of the Commission in the future.
Snazzy New Paddlers’ Trail Campsite in Enfield, CT
A new CT River Paddlers’ trail campsite was built by AMC’s Roving Conservation Crew and volunteers on Kings Island in Enfield, Connecticut this past summer/fall. The campsite includes two tent platforms, a moldering privy (pictured right) and a bear box. Funding for this campsite was generously provided by the REI West Hartford, CT store and the Connecticut Chapter. Learn more about the campsite and the Paddlers’ Trail on the Paddlers’ Trail website.
Hike 50 Challenge on the New England Trail
The New England National Scenic Trail celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System with a Hike 50 challenge, which encouraged participants to complete the challenge by hiking 50 miles on the trail or by engaging through events, volunteerism, advocacy, and social media. The challenge garnered over 1,500 participants from 20 states and 4 countries, many of whom used the challenge to explore the trail for the first time.
PA Highlands Trail Network Signs and Kiosks Installed
AMC worked with the Delaware and Lehigh (D&L) National Heritage Area and Bucks County to develop a new trailhead on Route 32 in Bridgeton Township that provides access to the D&L Trail and Ringing Rocks Park. Installation of PA Highlands Trail interpretive kiosks were installed in Berks, Bucks, and Northampton Counties as was directional signage marking the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail route within Quakertown Borough.
Teen Trail Crews Make Quick Work in New York and New Jersey
Teen Trail Crew programs continued to work on the Pond Loop Trail around Breakneck Pond in Harriman State Park as well as on the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail and Buttermilk Falls Trails in the Delaware Water Gap. While there is more to be done at the Pond Loop Trail and Rattlesnake Swamp Trail our crews were able to complete the extensive timber staircase on the Buttermilk Falls Trail (pictured left), one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the Delaware Water Gap.
Southern New England Trail Work Rocks
The season began with a large headquarters move from the Kellogg Conservation Center to the AMC’s Noble View Outdoors Center, which was quite an accomplishment in itself – our staff literally built our camp at Noble View from the ground up! We continued an ongoing grant project on Mount Prospect with our Appalachian Trail Volunteer Crews and began the pilot year of a paid teen crew on the New England National Scenic Trail (NET). The NET crew stayed busy the entire season with projects including bridges (pictured right), reroutes and maintenance while our volunteer spike crews worked on cutting a new switchback reroute on the AT and fine tuning it with rock work. We also were able to host base camp volunteer crews and staff trainings here on the Noble View trail network, resulting in a noticeable impact through corridor clearing, blazing, and tread defining.
Energy, Climate and Clean Air
Defending Clean Air and Climate
AMC continues the fight to protect the air we breathe and reduce air pollution that causes haze, ozone, and climate change. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has initiated aggressive deregulation efforts that undermine the Clean Air Act, as well as incentivizing coal power generation. AMC has responded to these challenges by asking our constituents to submit formal comments on the rolling back of the Clean Power Plan, carbon standards for cars, and other key air pollution rules that impact our region. We also have joined several legal actions to defend clean air protections, including one in which EPA’s attempt to further delay ozone clean-up was thwarted.
Two Carbon Offset Project Verifications Completed
2018 was a big year for AMC’s forest carbon offset projects. The 4,000-acre Silver Lake project completed its initial verification and offset credit registration. When AMC acquired this property in early 2017 the carbon project was already in progress, having been initiated by the Forest Society of Maine. The sale of offset credits from this project helped pay for the conservation of this ecologically significant property as well as establishing a stewardship fund to support AMC’s ownership and management costs. The 9,000-acre Katahdin Iron Works Ecological Reserve project completed its initial registration in 2014. In 2018 it successfully completed a verification that registered credits from continued forest growth from 2013 through 2017. To date the sale of forest carbon offset credits has returned over $1.1 million to AMC to support the stewardship of Maine Woods Initiative lands. These projects will continue to serve as an important part of MWI’s “green endowment,” with offset credits continuing to accrue into the future through forest growth in the project areas.
Kenneth Kimball Research Fellow Completes First Year
The Research Fellow program, funded by the Leadership Giving Initiative and named for former Director of Research Dr. Kenneth Kimball, was established to provide funding for one- to two-year fellowships for early career scientists to work on focused research projects of broad interest to AMC’s mission. The first Fellow, Karin Bothwell, has completed her first year. The focus of her research is how carbon sequestered in AMC’s forests can best be utilized to help meet long-term organizational carbon footprint goals. Karin has been evaluating the feasibility of additional forest carbon offset projects on AMC lands (both Maine Woods lands and the Cardigan Reservation) as well as the possibility of selling AMC forest carbon credits to guests at our facilities to offset the carbon footprint of their travel. Our best estimates are that this guest travel carbon footprint exceeds AMC’s organizational footprint, which primarily includes electricity, heating, vehicle fleet, and staff travel.
Northern Pass Rejected by NH Permitting Authority
In February 2018, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), charged with key permitting authority over the now-infamous Northern Pass Transmission proposal, voted unanimously to halt the project in its tracks. At issue for the SEC was the glaring failure of Eversource Energy, the utility company behind Northern Pass, to ensure that its $1.6 billion proposal for 192 miles of transmission corridor, including 132 miles above-ground line using more than 1,800 towers up to 165 feet tall, would not unduly affect the orderly development of the region. Thousands of citizens and 30 of the 31 impacted towns have opposed the project over the course of an eight-year-long saga in which AMC has been involved since Northern Pass was first proposed in 2010. Unfortunately, Northern Pass has since appealed the SEC decision to the NH Supreme Court, so AMC and partners are poised to defend the SEC rejection of this misconceived project before the Court.
“Son of Northern Pass” Arises in Maine
When New Hampshire regulators rejected the proposed Northern Pass transmission line, Massachusetts turned to another project to meet its renewable energy goals – Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect. The project shares many of the problems that sank Northern Pass. It would carve a new 53-mile long corridor through the globally significant undeveloped forests of western Maine before joining existing corridors, where it would worsen the scenic impact of an existing crossing of the Appalachian Trail. As originally proposed the project would have severely impacted the Kennebec Gorge, but in response to public pressure CMP agreed to bury the line under the Gorge. In addition, the actual greenhouse gas benefits of the project are unsubstantiated. AMC has intervened in opposition to the project with Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, where we have been consolidated with the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Trout Unlimited. AMC’s Policy and Research staff have worked throughout the year to analyze the project, develop AMC’s position, coordinate with other organizations, develop outreach materials, and prepare for the public hearings, which are scheduled for spring 2019.