[Updated] AT Fully Reopens After Government Shutdown
A shutdown of the US federal government began at midnight EST on January 20, 2018, with varying effects throughout government-managed public lands. About 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail is managed by the National Park Service (NPS), and more than 800 miles is managed by the US Forest Service (USFS). The entirety of these sections will remain accessible throughout the government shutdown, but with limited emergency response and no visitor’s services.
While hikers and visitors will be able to access the length of the trail, no maintenance or visitor activities will be conducted. Closed facilities overseen by the NPS and USFS include restrooms, visitor centers, concessions, and information services. Emergency and other rescue services will be limited, and all trail users are entering NPS and USFS land at their own risk.
Additionally, all NPS and USFS volunteer programs are currently suspended, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will not be able to commence with regularly scheduled volunteer activities. The ATC Visitor Centers in Harpers Ferry and Boiling Springs will remain open, as well as the AT Visitor Center in Monson, Maine.
For more information on the shutdown’s effects on the Appalachian Trail, visit appalachiantrail.org/updates.
Below is a statement from from Suzanne Dixon, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
“The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) welcomes visitors after a three-day government shutdown. During the shutdown, visitors were advised that emergency services would be unavailable and volunteers who maintain the Trail would be required to cease work. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) worked in collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and other partners to convey this important information.
News reports of the government shutdown have reminded the American public of how national parks and public lands are treasured and experienced year-round, and how even a few days of a government shutdown can affect places like the A.T.
Last year, more than 3 million visitors experienced the 2,190-mile A.T., which traverses through 14 states from Maine to Georgia. Over 6,000 volunteers contributed more than 250,000 hours of work. In addition, the economies of communities along the A.T. — including nearly 50 Trail towns designated as “A.T. Communities” — are greatly supported by travel and tourism associated with their proximity to the Trail.
The ongoing management of the A.T. is dependent upon informed federal decision-making that recognizes the many attributes of the Trail; appropriate funding for NPS and USFS; strong collaboration between federal, state and local entities; and generous and engaged public support. The ATC is committed to preserving and managing the A.T. — ensuring that its natural beauty, its cultural heritage, its community attributes and recreational options are shared and enjoyed for generations to come.”
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