In the early 70s, Founding Father of the BMT Dave Sherman’s life-long passion for hiking and the AT was set ablaze when he attended a presentation of AT thru hiker, Billy Taylor. Once Taylor had answered Sherman’s innumerable questions, a hike of the entire AT was at the top of Sherman’s “to do” list.
But Taylor had one last piece of advice, “Well, if you’re going to do it, you had better do it before it is too late.”
Taylor went on to explain that development pressures along the AT were forcing the trail off private land and onto public roads. “There may not be a continuous trail much longer,” Taylor concluded.
Those statements were made almost 50 years ago, but they apply to all trails in existence today. Developers are snapping up most any property that comes on the market. What once was a secluded, forested plot of land becomes a subdivision or a strip mall. Trail organizations must ‘be prepared’ to act as soon as land needed for the trail corridor hits the market. Even before a property is for sale, trail organizations need to take the initiative to open negotiations with and/or make offers to near-by property owners whose land would be a valuable addition for the trail corridor. In taking that initiative, hopefully land owners and trail organizations can work together for the benefit of both.
Ninety-five per cent of the Benton MacKaye is on either Forest Service or National Park Service property. BMTA needs to move as quickly as possible to secure permanent routes that eliminate the remaining 15 miles or so of road walk and “non-permanent” trail that crosses private land.
BMTA is getting prepared — the Board has established a Land Acquisition Fund (LAF). But we need your help to fund these endeavors. Tax deductible donations can be made online on the Land Acquisition Fund Donate Page. Or, mail a check with the notation put “Land Acquisition Fund” in the memo field to BMTA, PO Box 6, Cherry Log, GA 30522.
Another way you can help — and have some fun at the same time — come to BMTA’s Annual Meeting and Hike Fest November 11-14 at Unicoi Lodge and purchase some raffle tickets. We have some great raffle items — including several two-nite stays — and the proceeds go to BMTA’s Land Acquisition Fund!