Volunteers Clean Up Major Summer Storm Damage

Volunteers tackle a blowdown north of the Taconic State Parkway in New York Photos by Ryan Seltzer

Volunteers cleared portions of the A.T. in late May and early June during a historic clean-up effort. Severe storms and prolonged rains caused flooding and downed trees from northern Virginia to New York in mid-May. Sections of the A.T. in New York east of the Hudson River had intense damage with reports of microbursts and tornadoes; a couple areas for several miles were almost impassible. Heavy rains also caused road damage and mudslides on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, which necessitated closure of the Goodloe Byron Memorial Footbridge that connects Harpers Ferry and the C&O Towpath – temporarily closing four miles of the A.T. from Harpers Ferry north into Maryland, with no safe alternative other than to hire a shuttle during the peak of hiking season. The same storm system created dangerously high rivers in the southern region of the Trail.

Volunteers tackle a blowdown north of the Taconic State Parkway in New York Photos by Ryan Seltzer

In quick response, A.T. maintainers worked to clear several miles of Trail that were considered impassable — especially in the mid-Atlantic region. “In my 22 years walking the A.T. and 40 years maintaining it, I have never seen devastation like we fought through,” says New York A.T. maintainer Ralph Ferrusi. Two staff members from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) Mid-Atlantic office traveled to the New York section of the Trail to help clear blow downs and the Mid-Atlantic office served as a clearing house to track the damage and provide a variety of support and important daily updated information for the ATC’s Trail Updates web page.

Approximately 18 volunteers spent close to 500 hours clearing blow downs in New York. While the storms affected the Trail from the Hudson River to Connecticut, the worst damage occurred in three separate areas. Guesstimates of trees removed are in the hundreds, with numbers of separate branches cut in the thousands. All sections are passable now thanks to the hard work and coordination of our dedicated volunteers.

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For current information and updates about all sections of the A.T. visit: appalachiantrail.org/trailupdates