‚ÄúOur work extends beyond the footpath ‚ÄĒ it‚Äôs the swath of protected public land it passes through and, just as importantly, the natural and human communities along that corridor that hold the long-term fate of the trail in their hands,‚ÄĚ said Leanna Joyner, the ATC program manager for the A.T. license tag in North Carolina.
More than 3,000 drivers in the state have AT plates.
‚ÄúWe hope to reach our initial goal of having 5,000 A.T. license plates on the road by this July,‚ÄĚ said Joyner.
The tags cost an extra $25 a year. It comes with a one-year membership to the ATC, which includes six issues of A.T. Journeys, a magazine designed to foster awareness of the management, maintenance, and conservation efforts necessary to keep the trail lands open, safe and protected for years to come.
In addition to supporting the work of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the plate proceeds are awarded to hiking clubs for special projects along the trail corridor.
‚ÄúThe ongoing support of license tag holders has allowed us to establish a grant program to fund trail maintenance, shelter improvements, education, outreach to people who don‚Äôt currently utilize the Trail, environmental monitoring, and partnerships with communities that border the trail corridor,‚ÄĚ Joyner said.
Last year, a grant was awarded to the Nantahala Hiking Club to use the Appalachian Trail as a hands-on teaching tool in elementary classrooms. The club will hold a workshop for elementary teachers in Macon County interested in the concept. The program, ‚ÄúA Trail to Every Classroom,‚ÄĚ is a top initiative of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
In addition, the sleeping platform in the Overmountain Shelter on the Roan Mountain section of trail was refurbished.
‚ÄúBoth of those projects are so vital to the A.T., but we could not have provided funding without the support of drivers who chose to have an A.T. plate,‚ÄĚ said ATC Regional Director Morgan Sommerville. ‚ÄúOne sustains the integrity of a facility along the Trail, and the other helps us ensure that future generations have knowledge of and an appreciation for the conservation of the natural environment that surrounds the Trail where they live.‚ÄĚ
For more about getting an A.T. license plate, call 828.254.3708 or visit www.appalachiantrail.org.