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Smoky Mtns/AT Partnership

Candace Bourne
Once again I would like to inform you of this partnership
opportunity. Last years sessions were a great success. All the
agency people involved were impressed with the work done.
If you respond to Derek please let him know where and who you
heard this from. I want him to know that we endurance riders
are chipping in!! Feel free to pass this along.


This second-year Trail Maintenance Program for Equestrians who
want to help the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park remain open to equestrian use - A partnership
between local equestrian groups, the NC Division of Parks &
Recreation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Smoky
Mountains Hiking Club and the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC).

Horse use of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) is
unique tothe Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  About 35 of
the 70 miles ofA.T. in the Smokies is open to horse use, the only
equestrian section of the 2167 mile long Appalachian Trail.
Constructed as a hiking path, most of the A.T. is not built to
equestrian standards.  Originally, moreof the A.T. in the Smokies
was open to horse use, but A.T. sections that sustained
significant resource damage to the footpath, due to a combination
of sharp hooves, steep slopes and heavy rain were closed to horse
use by the National Park Service, most recently in 1978.

 Since then, hikers have worked intermittently to close the rest
of the A.T. in the Smokies to equestrian use. That is until 1995,
when hikers and riders decided to bury the hatchet and work
together.  Now A.T. managers are working with riders to help
assure that those sections of the A.T. open to horse use are put i
into good shape so that they may remain open for horses.

In 1995 an historic agreement was signed between horseback riders
and hikers regarding the A.T. in the Smokies.  This agreement has
resulted in close cooperation and equestrian maintenance of some
sections of the A.T. Several significant relocations of the A.T.
have been built to equestrian standards by volunteer hikers under
the direction of the ATC.  These hiking volunteers were members
of ATC's volunteer Rocky Top Trail Crew, with supplies packed in
by local equestrian groups.

Volunteer trail maintainers in the Smokies, both hikers and
riders, are in short supply, and the Park Service does not have
the funds to hire enough people to care for all the trails.
Equestrians suggested a similar volunteer crew be started for
riders. The Appalachian Trail Conference with this program will
complete its’ second year in 2002.  There will be two five day
trail work sessions.  One week will be open to equestrians only
with the possibility of the other week being combined with hikers

The crew will stay in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, led by a professional trail crew leader. The
equestrian trail crew will  rehabilitate the A.T. where it is
open to horse use.  This project will be used to continue a trend
for future equestrian maintenance programs within the Smokies.

Come join us. Spend a week (or two) in one of the most beautiful
places in the eastern US.  We will provide you with GREAT SCENERY,
GOOD FOOD, LODGING (after you get to the trail), all the trail
work tools and equipment needed, experienced leadership and the
opportunity for lots of fun and good companionship.  No
experience is necessary; only the willingness to work hard and
get dirty.  And you will help ensure that this part of the A.T.
in the Smokies remains open to horse use!

For an application call Derek Ibarguen, Associate Regional
Representative in the GA, NC and TN Regional Office of the
Appalachian Trail Conference at (828) 254-3708 or e-mail Application Deadline is March 15, 2002.

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