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North Country Trail Allegheny National Forest Chapter
By Bert Nemcik
When I returned from my Appalachian
Trail through-hike in 2002, I wanted to give something back to the
trail communiy. Working on the AT was my first through, but the
nearest section is 200 miles away.
The NCT is right in my own backyard
crossing over Henry's Mills Bridge juts 10 miles from my Pennsylvania
home. I knew that the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) section of
the NCT was certified but not yet adopted by anyone, so starting
a chapter to do just that seemed the thing to do. I had lots of
Bob Tait, the North Country Trail Association's
coordinator for Pennsylvania was elated that someone wanted to organize
Kirk Johnson, Executive Director of
the Friends of Allegheny Wilderness, was instrumental in assisting
my networking with U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel.
Eric Flood, Wilderness Ranger for the
Allegheny National Forest, was quick to join and offer his expertise
and connections with the NFS system.
With support from these men, my wife,
Cheryl, and I started to spread the word in the area and within
a month, we were ready to hold our first meeting, write our by-laws
and chapter charter and forge ahead to become officially recognized.
At our first meetng, many local people
came and shared their vision. Bill and Mary Massa, President and
Secretary of the Allegheny Outdoor Club, said they wanted to see
the chapter succeed so that we could support them in relocating
and maintaining the NCT.
Bill Belitksus said he wanted to make
sure that his efforts would help to protect the NCT in the Allegheny
National Forest. He hoped that our hard work would result in establishing
a high quality recreational hiking trail in the ANF for all to enjoy.
Jim Kleissler, the head of the Allegheny
Defense Project, said he wanted to promote the trail so that people
would appreciate the natural beauty of the Allegheny National Forest
and that his efforts would result in protecting the pathway through
the entire length of it.
Eric offered his years of trail building
and maintenance skills learned in the wilds of Maine. He believed
that his enthusiasm for trail work would encourage others to begin
to volunteer their time and efforts on this awesome project.
Kirk said, "I am joining the ANF chapter
of the NCTA in order to participate in trail events along the NCT.
I live in (nearby) Warren. It is exciting to me that a new chapter
is being formed specific to the ANF. This was something long overdue."
Keith Klos said he wanted to be involved in the trail work and looked
forward to erecting a series of shelters that would rival anything
on any trail in the nation.
The enthusiasm is building. We are
looking forward to an exciting summer of trail work, backpacking
and promoting our section of the NCT pathway. See you down the trail!
the NCTA Allegheny Forest Chapter website at www.northcountrytrail.org/anf/index.htm