Backpacker Radio #95 | Andy Downs of the ATC on the Mountain Valley Pipeline & Postponing Thru-Hikes During a Pandemic

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are once again joined by Andy Downs of the ATC.  For those who might be unfamiliar, the ATC has been under a bit of heat of late for the news of their accepting a very large gift from the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project they once opposed.  Andy gives us a thorough breakdown on the history of the project, why the ATC is no longer actively opposing it, and answers some of the common critical questions being lobbed in the ATC’s direction.  We also dive into the subject of the ATC making the request for people to yet again postpone their thru-hikes on the AT in 2021, how the decision was arrived to, and some key considerations to make for those who are still dead set on hiking the Trail.

Zach also outline why The Trek will not be closing the platform to thru-hikers this year, the duo talk about their ideal marriage partner and/or shapeshifter victims, and listeners are blessed with a trio of poop stories to close out the show.

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Interview with Andy Downs of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

00:05:30 – QOTD: Why did Chaunce have to reschedule the show?

00:06:39 – Welcome back to Andy Downs

00:08:00 – You mentioned not being the best thru-hiker can you explain?

00:09:52 – How many times have you been to prison? 

00:10:05 – What is your title at the ATC?

00:11:00 – What power line issues were you dealing with yesterday?

00:12:04 – What was 2020 like for you and the ATC?

00:14:18 – What was trail maintenance like on the AT in 2020? 

00:16:25 – What is the chain of command with trail maintenance clubs? What exactly does the ATC do?

00:19:20 – Does the ATC provide any funding?

00:20:42 – Does the ATC run the ridge runner program?

00:22:25 – Can you talk about how the Mountain Valley Pipeline history intertwines with the AT?

00:34:16 – Why is this big news all of a sudden?

00:35:36 – What is not being disclosed about the deal and why is that the case? 

00:37:54 – Can you speak to the million-dollar bonus you got (joking)?

00:39:47 – Is the money going to go to rerouting in Virginia? 

00:44:43 – As someone who fought the pipeline for a while can you understand why people are upset? 

00:48:21 – Do you have to advocate for the deal now? 

00:49:45 – What is your obligation to the advancement of the pipeline?

00:53:36 – Some people say you are incentivized to help finish the pipeline?

00:55:34 – What are the potential impacts of the pipeline? 

01:03:05 – So what are the big downsides? 

01:09:35 – Are there large environmental concerns?

01:11:14 – Are the ecosystems around the AT not also considered the ATC’s responsibility?

01:18:00 – Can you talk about the ATC’s stance on Covid-19?

01:27:24 – Does the ATC have any say in trail days? 

01:30:18 – Have you had any feedback from trail towns asking you not to discourage hikers? 

01:33:10 – What should people know? Where should they stay up to date?



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Comments 3

  • Grace Kendall : Feb 27th

    It feels weird to hear the ATC use the excuse that they’re not an environmental group, and it feels weird to listen to a podcast where I’m literally trying to be educated about the subject and have to hear that disinformation is one of the biggest reasons that people are upset about this. I can appreciate why the ATC made their decision, but I don’t understand why the environmental impact of these projects doesn’t weigh heavier than concerns about the view. The ATC’s talking points are what make me feel so uncomfortable with their decision. “Staying focused on the trail” and ignoring the big picture is sad. These choices do set precedents. It’s disappointing to hear.

    • lauren : Mar 18th

      here for the exact same reason/ response as you.. to talk about viewpoints and the trail for recreational use of land and saying they are not as concerned with the environment or ecosystem is not really what I was thinking I’d hear. I’m with you on not bashing them for the decision, and aware that the pipeline may happen with or without their support, but this just didn’t really sit well with me.

  • Maury William Johnson : Feb 28th

    Andy is a dear friend, but I am giving the ATC leadership, not Andy— as much grief as possible. The ATC, not Andy, sold out their friends and the ATC Trail community…FULL STOP. The grief they are getting now is nothing compared to the grief they will get. Please, if this concerns you contact the ATC Headquarters — not Andy.


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