2014 Walk off the War: Noble View Outdoor Center hosting our Veterans.
To help him through the horrific experiences he endured during World War II, Earl Shaffer told friends that he was going to “walk off the war”. In 1948 Shaffer hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. The first person credited for through-hiking the trail from Georgia to Maine.
In 2012, Sean Gobin returned from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I heard Sean speak in DC this Spring, he said “I thought I was going to be a statistic – one of the 20% of Veterans who don’t make it.” Sean thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and he said he realized the therapeutic affects of the more than 2,100 miles. Sean was immersed in nature and tackling the elements along the way. Ultimately he realized this incredible achievement through hard work, persistence and supportive people he met along the way.
Sean founded Walk of the War to give returning Veterans the opportunity for the same experience. With terrific partners, Walk off the War now runs thru-hikes on the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.
AMC had the honor to host participants in the Walk off the War program at our Noble View Outdoor Center in Russell, Massachusetts. Nestled in Western Massachusetts – near the Berkshires – Noble View is an oasis, minutes away from urban areas and larger population centers. This nature escape offers a rich trails system and beautiful facilities.
It was an honor to meet some of the thru-hikers. They represented different branches of the Armed Services. They spoke about their trek – now more than two thirds complete – and the days ahead hiking toward the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine. One of the Veterans said the hike had restored his faith in humanity – and the goodness of people.
We are indebted to our Veterans for their service. We need to continue to do our part close to home to get active outdoors; preserve these beautiful places for generations to come; and help more Veterans get onto the trail to experience the wonders of the natural world and the thanks of their grateful fellow citizens.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed rule to the Clean Air Act. 111D will – among other things – help to move to reduce and regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants. This rule will help to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This is one of several moves that hope to achieve our nation’s overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
111D will require states to work with the EPA to develop standards of performance. The system that has been designed under 111D is being called the “best system for reduction in emissions” (BSRE). States will be given upwards of 15 years to implement their systems – determined by what they can reasonably achieve. Closing down some of our nation’s worst coal-fired plants; increasing the move to cleaner fossil fuels like natural gas; and developing a broader array of alternative energy sources, are all part of BSRE.
As we work to lower GHG emissions and advance alternative energy sources, we must work more collaboratively. Not only by working more collaboratively between states but also between nations – we need to think about a more global citizen grass roots green effort. AMC would like to be conservation’s outdoor recreational voice. We are working to get more people active in the outdoors but also encouraging those who are active to be good conservation stewards.
While this proposed rule is an important and welcome change, it also focuses our individual responsibility to do more. At AMC, we’ve recently launched a conservation campaign. Our message is simple: the cleanest energy is the energy not used. As outdoor citizens, we ask what can we do to lower our own carbon footprint. From recycling and reuse to car sharing and water conservation – there are too many ways to have our own personal positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Together we can work on all fronts to reduce GHG and make the planet a better place for future generations to enjoy and prosper.
It was a real treat to be at Pinkham Notch yesterday. Nestled in the White Mountain National Forest, Pinkham is the launch point for thousands of hikers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Our team had spent the last several months preparing for these Summer visitors, hikers and guests.
As a young person, I was so fortunate to spend my summers in New Hampshire. I remember the last day of school and thinking of the gear that I needed to ready for camp. Whether as a camper or as a member of the staff, these are some of my fondest memories.
We’d make the trek up from Boston and once we hit the dirt road we knew camp was close by. The smells of woods would waft into the car as we’d turn each bend in the road and get closer to camp. This was such a wonderful place. Surrounded by woods, lakes, stream and rivers. So much potential for fun each day. It was a great place to learn to swim, to meet new friends and to create a daily adventure.
At AMC we’re very fortunate to help individuals and families create their own summer adventures. From Three Mile Island and Echo Lake Camp to Cardigan Lodge and the Huts, there are more than 70 facilities that we offer during the summer. These summer experiences are often generational. I sat next to a man in his late 80′s at Echo Lake Camp. He was a World War II Veteran and the first of three generations to attend the camp. What a rich tradition of sharing the outdoors with family and friends.
Tent camping in back country facilities is one of the most wild experiences we offer. Whether it be tents or back country shelters, there’s a sense of solitude and oneness with nature in these remote areas. Back country sites in Maine and NH or in the Berkshires and the Delaware Water Gap, offer a summer experience that wont be forgotten.
We’ve also been working on a close to home recreational infrastructure. These close to home opportunities allow millions of nearby residents a chance to have a summer day trip in the outdoors. The Bay Circuit Trail offers nearly 230 miles of trails cutting through 57 communities; the Connecticut River offers paddling trips up and down Western New England; and local state forests and parks (managed by groups like the Massachusetts Division of Conservation and Recreation) have an abundance of places to visit and program offerings.
So don’t forget to plan your summer adventures and get outdoors. For more information, please visit our lodging at outdoors.org
4.4 Billion app users as engaged conservation stewards
There seem to be apps for everything now. Smartphone apps to make lives easier, more efficient, and more connected – all delivered at dizzying speeds. From health and fitness to mapping the best travel routes, from organizing files on the cloud to apps for photo editing, from car sharing to food ordering – there are thousands of apps to choose from. We are fortunate that there are also many apps – developed and in development – for worthy causes and to advance philanthropy.
While we continue to want to get people outdoors and unplugged from technology, I think there’s a huge opportunity for us to galvanize app users as conservation stewards. According to Portio Research, nearly 1.2 billion people used smartphone apps in 2012. By 2017 that number is predicted to jump to 4.4 billion. That’s an enormous increase in people worldwide who will use apps.
Imagine if that group of app users – 4.4 billion people – uses this technology to lower their carbon footprint. This would have massive implications for energy conservation. From apps to turn down their home and office thermostats to apps that better connect people with walking trails or public transportation. There are a long list of great apps to help us advance a new world of conservation stewardship.
The Alliance to Save Energy outlined their top energy efficiency apps in 2013: http://www.ase.org/resources/top-10-energy-efficiency-smartphone-apps This list includes Kill-Ur-Watts to keep track of your energy use and develop a strategy to reduce your energy consumption. There are also water saving apps like the National Ground Water Association’s water usage calculator. The gamification of conservation apps is also well represented with many games and challenges to keep your family engaged in a fun and competitive spirit.
There is a great teaching and learning moment upon us. By embracing technology to stimulate personal conservation, responsibility and awareness, we can have immediate impact. Conservation of energy, water and other scarce resources needs to be a part of each individual’s outdoor citizenship. Conservation is the best green energy – the fuel that’s unused. A conservation minded, tech savvy world puts significantly lowering our carbon footprint within the reach of everyone.
Earth Day is April 22nd. We’ve been fortunate since 1990 to have millions of people celebrating Earth Day and bringing attention to the need for conservation practices. This year, Earth Day is embracing the theme of Green Cities. There are massive environmental implications if we don’t move quickly to green our cities. By 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Cities are our best hope to tackle some of the world’s most serious problems.
Cities are positioned to lead. Never before has so much been riding on the success of cities. People are now heading to cities for diversity, amenities, social connections, business opportunities, cultural attractions and convenience. Cities are also naturally greener. Most notably because urban inhabitants have a lower carbon footprint. Cities like New York, Mexico City, Tokyo and Madrid have millions of inhabitants who use public transportation every day – or better yet, they walk or ride a bike.
Cities have an opportunity to continue the trend to move away from a highway orientation of the 1950′s to an outdoor-centric orientation to support human powered recreation. Cities of the 21st Century must move to connect their citizens with the green spaces – parks, hiking trails, bike paths, and river ways. Smart cities like Bogota and Buenos Aires have done assessments on what they’re offering in terms of green infrastructure and what gaps need to be filled to complete their “green city” system.
Conservation practices are key to living in better symbiosis with the planet. Reducing our extreme use of the natural environment by recycling, capturing ground water run off, increasing the energy efficiency of our buildings, teaching conservation stewardship, embracing green design, adopting new energy technologies and creating vibrant connections to outdoor recreation are all part of a winning formula for green cities.
This was a great Winter for snow. The cold temps and the frequent snow falls made for the perfect conditions to get active outdoors. From cross country skiing, snow shoeing, winter hiking, ice skating, sledding, down hill skiing and more – there were a lot of activities to choose from.
Enjoying the trails and the view at the Mount Washington Nordic Ski Trails
Speaking with AMC members and friends – from all over the Northeast – it was evident that they took full advantage of this Winter. We’re fortunate to have a variety of options for close to home Winter recreation. From day trips in Central Park and the Arnold Arboretum to snow shoeing in New Hampshire and cross country skiing in Maine woods – there’s something for everyone and at every skill level.
Staying warm is a must on any Winter trip. Cross country skiing adventures necessitate multiple layers that can be removed with increased activity. Wicking shirts, fleece, and wind protection are all part of the uniform. Eye protection, sun screen and a hat are essential. A first aid kit, map and compass are also part of the Ten Essentials.
It’s also very important to drink enough water and develop a good hydration habit while exercising. While 4 to 6 quarts a day might be the norm, you need to be even more mindful of water in take while on the trail. Cross country skiing can be a particularly great workout, so keeping up on the water intake is critical.
With only a few short weeks of Winter left, it’s an opportune time to make a plan and get outdoors. One option to getting outdoors is offered on our site, under Chapter activities. Please check our site at outdoors.org and participate on an upcoming chapter trip.
During the days leading up to Thanksgiving we frequently hear from many people that it’s their favorite holiday. The day is jam packed with family, fun, food and most of all – gratitude. As we think about Thanksgiving in the United States, I think its important for us to be thankful for the national treasures we have in our parks and wild places.
We have a bounty of beautiful protected landscapes in our nation. From the 278,000,000 acres of National Parks to the 192,000,000 acres managed by the US Forest Service, from the 40,000,000 acres in private conservation easements to the millions of acres of local parks in cities and towns – we are blessed by these stunning spaces.
Thanks to the hard work of generations of conservation leaders and advocates, the United States is in an enviable position of leadership. We have a rich US legacy of protecting the outdoors and being active in the outdoors. That leadership however can’t stop with generations past – our parks and protected lands must be part of a renewed Outdoor Citizenship for our nation.
Our nation and the world depends on all of us to step up and play an active role. Getting the next generation active in the outdoors will better prepare them to confront the challenges of our time – challenges like climate change, resiliency, obesity and inactivity. Knowledgeable outdoor citizenry means better informed voters too; and people who more wisely use our trails, parks and ponds.
No matter where we are in the country, Thanksgiving is a great time to recommit and reconnect to the outdoors and to conservation stewardship. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and thank you for all you do to advance the outdoors.