Seven maintainers from the Nantahala Hiking Club (NHC), the Franklin based Appalachian Trail (A.T.) maintaining club, received certification training on the use of the cross cut saw on June 13 and 14. The NHC maintains 59 miles of the A.T. and more than 30 miles of “blue blaze” trails leading to it. More than 12 miles of the A.T. that the NHC maintains are located in the federally designated Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area. Federally designated Wilderness Areas offer the highest level of land protection we, as citizens, can provide. Power tools (chain saws) are not allowed for trail maintenance. Maintenance in wilderness areas must be done by hand tools such as cross cut saws and axes.
The language of the Wilderness Act (passed 50 years ago on Sept. 3, 1964, see www.wilderness50th.org) sets high standards to protect a small percentage, 5 percent, of federal public lands as wilderness. These protected lands are to be “untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain … retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation … affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticed, and has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.”
These protections provide primitive recreation, critical habitat for wildlife, and protection for clean drinking water.