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Conservation & Outreach

Trail Maintenance

University and College Relations

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association has created outreach relationships with several local universities and colleges. The students have the opportunity to spend a day in the woods working hard, having fun and hiking the BMT – all while gaining knowledge and expertise in trail maintenance.

College students may participate either as an organized group … or … on an individual basis. Last year, young men and women from the following universities joined BMTA volunteers on work trips to maintain the trail:  Emory University, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, University of North Georgia and University of Georgia.

The college and university work days usually are conducted on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Working side by side with a team of BMTA volunteers, the students use Pulaskis, trail hoes, axes and crosscut saws to repair and / or improve the trail.

BSA Conservation Weekend

The BMTA is a sponsor and exhibitor at the annual Atlanta Area Council Conservation Weekend where Scouts work toward the prestigious BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award. Each year over 300 Scouts travel from nearby councils and neighboring states to attend the weekend event.

The purpose of the Conservation Service Award is to educate Scouts on environmental conservation and sustainability, and, how to publicize the benefits of such endeavors to the community and beyond.

BMTA volunteers at the event provide information on the BMT as well as current trail projects along the trail. Sample projects include tread repair, brushing trail corridors and removing downed trees blocking the trail.

Through this outreach, Scouts and leaders gain an appreciation for current BMTA conservation projects. Of mutual benefit, the undertakings provide the Scouts with an education in proper trail maintenance while the Scouts help to accomplish much needed work on the Benton MacKaye Trail.

Scout leaders and Scouts interested in an Eagle Project should contact the BMTA State Rep. GA .

College and University students and staff interested in participating in a workday should contact the BMTA State Rep. GA or the BMTA State Rep TN/NC.

Hornaday Weekend


Whoa, slow down a minute friend. The first reaction when you see a word like ‘conservation’ is to skip on down to the important stuff, right? We’re here to hike, to have fun, to explore. We’re here to enjoy some time outdoors, to create memories that will remain with our children forever. We’re here to get away from the office and from school because we need time to rejuvenate minds and attitudes. Am I right, or am I right? Why spoil it with a four syllable word like ‘conservation?’ I’ll tell you why. Because conservation is the ‘tie that binds’ and as the old hymn goes, “Blessed be the tie that binds.”

What do we mean by conservation? Think of it this way: a little group called the Benton MacKaye Trail Association spent the last 40 years planning, building, maintaining and then struggling to preserve and improve the work done by our founders. Conservation is sort of our oath of office. Just as a new President is sworn in with the words “… and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend…,” we have an obligation to preserve and protect the trail from actions that may harm its long term health. The trail runs through National Park, National Forest and private lands. We have challenges from all of these ‘land owners’ – challenges that can and do impact the health of the trail.  Education can be a big part of conservation: let the public know about threats to the trail. Challenge the public, including scouts, schools and colleges, to be involved in the preservation and protection of the trail corridor. Work with the Forest Service to ensure land use plans are not changed to the detriment of the trail. Find members in our organization with the special skills to help with private land owner interaction. The work never ends.

So enjoy your hike. But remember, our membership ‘preserves, protects and defends’ the trail” … leaving a footpath for generations to follow”.  Brother, this is conservation!

Learn how you can help — read our Volunteering FAQs.

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Wilderness Areas that the BMT passes through.

For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.