"...leaving a footpath for generations to follow."
"How more pleasant traveling the forest on sturdy footpath unencumbered..."
True, but good trail doesn't just happen. It takes the efforts of people like you to come out a few times a year and cut back the overgrowth, clear the blowdowns, dress the treadway, and mark the trail so that many may enjoy that most pleasant "unencumbered" travel.
While the backbone of the BMTA is the membership, it is the maintainers and Section Maintainers, all those who go out to work, who keep the trail open.
MAINTAINER'S REPORT FORM
Click for Maintainer's Report Form used by section maintainers to report work and trail conditions.
Click for Cherokee NF South Zone Maintainer's Report Form used by section maintainers to report work and trail conditions in that area.
Section Mileages & Maintainers
Click for Section Mileages & Maintainers listed by section number.
One Trail in Three Parts
The BMT consists of three regions, each with its own needs. The southernmost 80 miles ("BMT-South") is located in Georgia and is the longest established. Trail workers are drawn from a surrounding area of higher population density to the several available access points. Maintenance needs are high but help is not far away.
The northernmost 100 miles of trail ("BMT-North") are located entirely within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the Smokies). This region, though quite remote, is maintained by Park staff. Some volunteer help is needed, but only to keep campsites clean along the BMT route. Maintenance requirements here are currently low.
This leaves the new 100-mile section in Tennessee and North Carolina ("BMT-Middle"). This segment of trail creates wonderful opportunities for hiking but requires extra work to keep open because it traverses some of the most remote backcountry in the southeastern United States. Unlike BMT-South, trail workers come from a more sparsely populated area to trailheads that are fewer and farther away. Also, over a third of BMT-Middle lies in Wilderness or Wilderness Study areas where vehicular access and motorized tools are prohibited. Some trail sections are still open for adoption. Maintenance needs are currently highest here and the BMTA heartily welcomes your help.
To keep the trail open and hiker-friendly, the following tasks are needed: repair of the pathway, cutting back of brush and annual growth, removal of downed trees, upkeep of water diversions, and keeping the trail marked with signs and blazes. Special projects, such as bridge construction and repair, are also done occasionally.
Ways You Can Help
If you are a hiker or outdoorsperson who would like to give something back to the wilderness resource, one of the best ways to contribute is by attending the monthly work trips. It's not all work and can be very rewarding. Another option is becoming a Section Maintainer by adopting a length of trail. This requires a higher level of commitment - approximately 12 hours work per year per mile. Yet another way is available to any who are willing to tackle high-priority items, such as large blowdowns, by joining the Quick-Response Crew. Lastly, donations can be targeted specifically toward trail maintenance. If any of these suggestions have piqued your interest, please contact us or for further information, see the Want To Help? page.
Job Hazard Analyses:The following Job Hazard Analyses were prepared by the US Forest Service to provide guidelines for consideration in safely performing trail maintenance activities. They are supplements to the BMTA Sponsored Volunteer in the Forests Agreement. Maintainers and leaders should periodically review applicable JHAs, especially before performing activities that they don't perform regularly or when changing seasons affect the primary risks.
More information from the US Forest Service on volunteering can be found in the following guide:
Trip Leader's Signup Sheet
Leaders of worktrips or other scheduled BMTA outings are asked to print out the Signup Sheet and have all participants fill in a line prior to starting activities. The second page (which can be printed on the side opposite the sign-up form) contains information that should be reviewed during the safety meeting. See form for further instructions.
What are the requirements to be a Section Maintainer?
Section maintainers are named by the appropriate Maintenance Director, as sections become available, and based on the following requirements:
1. To be a member in good standing.
2. To have read and absorbed the Guidelines for Section Maintainers and had any questions answered by the responsible Maintenance Director or member of the relevant Maintenance Team;
3. To have either attended at least two (2) monthly worktrips during at least one of which appropriate training takes place, or to have received individual training from a member of the Maintenance Team as assigned by the appropriate Maintenance Director.
4. To have completed the Section Walk Training (SWT) with a member of the Maintenance Team. Once requirements 1-3 have been met, the Maintenance Director may temporarily assign a section to the individual, on a section available basis. The next step is for the new maintainer to do a SWT of his/her newly assigned section with a member of the Maintenance Team. Only when the SWTS is completed and the work hours reported to the Maintenance Director by the Maintenance Team member will the assignment be finalized and the new maintainers name placed on the website at http://www.bmta.org/SectionMileages.php
Temporary Assignments: Individuals who have met the first three (3) requirements above, but not yet the fourth, may be assigned a section on a temporary basis, at the discretion of the appropriate Maintenance Director.
Questions? Want to adopt a trail section, or volunteer? Contact us now!
Guidelines for Section Maintainers
After adopting a section of trail, please review these Section Maintainer Guidelines.
Maintainers and hikers, please see the Annual Walk-Thru Page for information on how you can help walk the BMT in one day to report on problem trail conditions. This is the event that gathers data to help direct work in the coming year. All that's needed is to hike and take notes on areas that need improvement.
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Sawing a Log photo courtesy of Mike Pullen, 2015 annual meeting photo courtesy of Marge & Ralph Heller