Permanent Protection Won for Appalachian Trail in Giles County, VA

Published Aug 16, 2014

The Appalachian Trail in SW Virginia ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The Appalachian Trail in SW Virginia ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The greater the team, the greater the victory.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), along with its stalwart partners, has earned a tremendous victory in the battle to protect the Appalachian Trail for generations to come.

Due to the efforts and cooperation of these groups:

  • The Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • The United States Forest Service
  • Columbia Gas of Virginia
  • Columbia Gas Transmission
  • Celanese Corporation
  • The Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech
  • Local government agencies and
  • The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club

roughly three decades of work has resulted in the Appalachian Trail (AT) near the New River in Giles County, VA, being placed on permanently protected lands.

According to the ATC, challenges with Trail design, land ownership, and hiker safety issues postponed the final alignment of the AT in Giles County for years. The current footpath location is on property owned by Celanese Corporation and is available at their sole discretion. The AT currently parallels US 460, passes by Celanese's manufacturing plant, provides minimal recreational or scenic values, is difficult to maintain and poses a barrier to certain land uses.

Here's how the ATC describes this giant step for man and mankind:

Through the collaborative efforts of the U.S. Forest Service and the ATC, in negotiation with the managers of Celanese and the local community and government, a new alternative route was identified on the Celanese property that provides a scenic and safe route from the New River to the summit of Peters Mountain.

The new route alleviates impacts to adjacent private landowners, and minimizes the impact from nearby manufacturing operations. This is receiving broad public support. Celanese has generously donated an easement across 2.5 Trail miles for the new route.

The new AT path crosses the New River and U.S. 460 and immediately enters the woods, where it will follow the New River for approximately one mile. Then, amidst scenic vistas of the river, the Trail will ascend to Hemlock Ridge through terrain that serves both hikers and Celanese Corporation better than before.

Executive Director & CEO of the ATC Ron Tipton says, "The acquisition of this route is a landmark achievement for everyone who cares about the Appalachian Trail. With this action more than 99 percent of the entire Appalachian Trail corridor is now in public ownership and permanently protected. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy salutes all of the parties to this agreement, and especially the U.S. Forest Service and Celanese."

This final protected section of footpath represents a monumental milestone as the A.T. management partnership can now fully apply its resources toward the protection of critical viewsheds, improvements to trail sustainability and expanding the corridor of A.T. lands. A $40,000 grant from Columbia Gas of Virginia and Columbia Gas Transmission will allow the ATC to complete this capstone Trail project. The ATC plans to build the 2.5 miles of new Trail during the Spring of 2014 and open this final section as quickly as possible, providing access to visitors from the local community, across the U.S., and around the world.

"The opportunity to make the final protected section of the Appalachian Trail a reality is consistent with our sustainability strategy and philosophy to be good stewards of the environment," said Carl Levander, president, Columbia Gas of Virginia. "Each day, we work hard to build and maintain a modern energy infrastructure which incorporates innovative environmental conservation approaches like this collaborative effort in Giles County."

Millions of individuals hike portions of the Appalachian Trail each year. We all owe a debt of gratitude for the perseverance, generosity and vision of all those who hammered out this deal to preserve our beloved path.

Now, if somebody could build more motels in Pearisburg, the seat of Giles County, everything would be perfect!

Click Here for All Pearisburg, VA, Motel Rooms Sold Out on Weekdays

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow and for centuries to come. For more information about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, visit www.appalachiantrail.org.

About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia, with headquarters in Chesterfield County, is one of seven energy-distribution companies of NiSource Inc. We serve more than 250,000 residential, industrial and government customers in 86 communities, making us the third-largest natural gas utility in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information, visit www.columbiagasva.com.


Tags: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Appalachian Trail Clubs, and Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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