92nd Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet

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State of the Club
Remarks by President Joe Lombardo


Members, staff, and special guests – ladies and gentlemen:

2019 showed the value PATC brings to the Appalachian Trail. We weathered the winter storms and a protracted government shutdown with the same dedication our volunteers have shown for 92 years.

This year we again provided close to 90,000 hours of volunteer service—equivalent to $2,250,000 in paid labor value—on the services we provide our members and work performed on the lands, cabins, shelters and across the 1,200 miles of trails we maintain.

We took action to increase membership. Our efforts paid off! We have experienced the longest run of continuous monthly increases in membership in over 10 years. We now have over 8,000 members—a new record.
 
Some important accomplishments in our efforts to carry out our mission include:

With the initiative of our colleagues in the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter, we added over 80 miles of trail to the club's area of responsibility within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest North River Ranger District.

Soon, we expect to welcome a new chapter into the PATC family. The good folks of Round Hill, VA, after becoming an AT Community, organized their community and neighboring communities and applied to Council for approval to establish the Blue Ridge Chapter. This new chapter will play an important role in helping expand the reach of PATC and further build our membership and volunteer base.

We heard your call for improving our guided hikes program. We made great progress this year re-establishing our Hikes committee and created new online reporting forms, completed initial hike-leader training and are now using Meetup—an online application—to schedule, organize, and advertise PATC hikes.

Throughout the year, we also strengthened our partnership with private donors, such as REI and LL Bean. This year, REI gave us $7,500 to help support several shelters and privy projects. LL Bean awarded us $2,300 to help us purchase more reliable emergency communications devices to improve volunteer safety on the trails.

We completed the signage project, funded by REI, on the Tuscarora Trail. 56 PATC volunteers and one intern, in collaboration with the USFS Lee District, the Town of Hancock, MD and Vinnie the Mule, installed over 200 signs along the 250-mile Tuscarora Trail. They completed the project in record time—a full year earlier than planned!

We made great progress taking care of the long-term sustainability of our cabins by repairing or replacing roofs, chimneys, safety equipment and access roads throughout our jurisdiction.

In land acquisition, we closed on two tracts, both near the southern district of Shenandoah National Park.

With funding from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), we purchased the nine-acre Garth property to protect the viewshed for hikers along the AT near Calf Mountain shelter.

The Commonwealth of Virginia arranged grant funding to allow us to purchase the 125-acre Morton property. This land acquisition is an important part of a larger effort being supported by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the National Park Service to protect significant natural communities that supply vital habitat, protect rare species, improve water quality, and provide viewshed and development buffers. The Club also gains a potential new cabin site at a former Civilian Conservation Corps work center.  

We supported legislative and judicial actions to protect the AT and enhance the hiking experience.

On the legislative front, we encouraged the U.S. Congress to support funding for the National Park Service and the US Forest Service to reduce the backlog of infrastructure maintenance projects. I heard just yesterday that there is strong bipartisan support for enacting this legislation in both houses of Congress.

We worked with our sister AT maintaining Clubs and ATC to support an appellate court ruling that requires the government to conduct proper environmental assessments before issuing pipeline construction permits.

I also want to mention that our good work has not gone unnoticed by our elected officials and government agencies.

This past year, a U.S. Senator who hiked the AT wrote to us about how impressed he was with the quality of our shelters and trail maintenance; and a Federal Government agency recognized our long-standing collaboration on maintaining trails. This kind of recognition is attributable only to the great work you—our volunteers—do with the support of our staff, elected officers, committees and Council members.

[Introduction of Guests]

None of the achievements we have made would have been possible without your support and generosity through your membership dues and generous in-kind and monetary donations to fund major projects. We hope you will continue to provide support during our End-of-Year PATC19 fundraising drive, which is underway now, to help us fund important initiatives that go beyond what our normal budget can handle. For more information on that, check out PATC19 on our website.

Over the coming year, we will build on what we have achieved this past year to further improve our ability to fulfill our mission. Through the work of our committed volunteers, dedicated officers and directors and our highly qualified staff we will continue to work collaboratively with our donors and partners in the broader trail community to fulfill our commitment to provide the best trail system possible.

I remain confident and optimistic about our Club’s ability to meet the challenges we may face as we approach our centennial anniversary and embark on our second century. Our membership is strong, our finances are sound, and the Club is up to the task!