UPDATE: On August 21, REI announced the donation of an extra $10,000 to each project in the Every Trail Connects campaign. That brings our total to $76,145!
Thanks to the overwhelming support of our members, volunteers, partners, and friends, the Trail Conference’s restoration of the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain State Park has received a huge boost: Because you voted for our trail project on the A.T., REI will donate $66,145 to help complete our work.
This generous donation is part of the national retailer’s Every Trail Connects campaign, which aims to inspire stewardship of the outdoors. REI earmarked $500,000 to invest in 10 trails around the country, with votes tallied at rei.com/trails deciding where the funds would go. Every vote for the Appalachian Trail gave the Trail Conference $5 for the Bear Mountain Trails Project. Voting kicked off at 3:01 a.m. EST on August 14 and lasted a mere 37 hours before all $500K had been allocated. The A.T. received 13,229 votes, and we thank each and every one of you for backing us.
The money donated will go toward building a safer, more enjoyable Appalachian Trail through Bear Mountain State Park—the most heavily used section of the A.T. Three million annual visitors to Bear Mountain create an unusual amount of wear on the park’s trail system, necessitating an upgrade to the hiking paths originally built in the 1920s. Since 2006, the Bear Mountain Trails Project has seen 1,745 volunteers working alongside professional trail builders and Conservation Corps members to make these trails more sustainable. Volunteers on this project have spent over 60,000 hours building 17,131 linear feet of trail, including 1,805 stairs and 11,631 square feet of crib wall to ensure the trail will endure for generations to come.
The crew working on the Bear Mountain Trails Project hit the 60 percent completion point on the Upper East Face portion of the Appalachian Trail relocation this summer. This fall, they’ll finish the Trails for People Exhibit at the foot of Bear Mountain. This interpretive exhibit, built directly along the Appalachian Trail, will explain the history of the park, trail-building techniques, and why constructing sustainable trails is so important. It will serve as an unofficial gateway to more than 50,000 acres of backcountry habitat.
With just 1,145 feet of trail remaining until we reach the Perkins Memorial Tower at the top, the Bear Mountain Trails Project is expected to be completed in 2017. To get the job done in that timeframe, we’re looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are interested in helping us rebuild this historic trail and donations to fund our $250,000 budget. Find out how you can get involved at www.nynjtc.org/bearmtntrails, or contact Trail Builder Ama Koenigshof at 616-3337-2481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.