Covid Comments

Ala Kahakai NST

Ala Kahakai Trail Association/E Mau Na ala hele

ATA — We have continued taking small groups on hikes along the trail in accordance with state restrictions for gatherings.

ATA — The pandemic put many of the acquisition funding on hold and has taken much longer to close.

ATA — For the most part, COVID-19 has halted much of our operations as we cannot gather or travel.  Volunteers are limited to very small groups which has impeded our efforts to conduct maintenance, community education (as many community members we serve, do not have the technical capabilities for virtual meetings), the state and county funding for our acquisitions have stalled and has taken much longer to close on properties, and our board meetings which normally include a hike on the trail has had to resort to zoom meetings only with no personal contact, we have not been able to connect with our beloved trail in almost a year.

E Mau Na ala hele — All operations and trail work has been put on hold due to Covid-19.

Appalachian NST

ATC — COVID-19 put a significant halt on most major project work in the 2020 calendar year by A.T. volunteers, though work resumed for many volunteers once Adaptive Recovery Procedures were in place to resume work safety once criteria were met for a resumption of work. Following an initial spring halt to all volunteering, once volunteers were able to resume work, they reviewed additional training, JHAs, and acknowledgements, before working steadily to maintain the Trail to it’s traditionally high standards by removing blowdowns, clearing drains and cutting back annual growth. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference adeptly handled a number of significant blowdowns following tropical storm Isaias’s path through those states. 

The practiced partnerships of A.T. Cooperative Management were in full swing March through June as APPA, USFS, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and A.T. volunteers met weekly to plan an approach for Adaptive Recovery to COVID-19. Adaptability was also essential in shifting all in-person meetings Regional Partnership Committee Meetings and Stewardship Council meeting to online only. 

Appalachian Trail Conservancy invested a good deal of time and effort in taking stock of volunteer partner programs and volunteer training in 2020. Listening sessions were held with A.T. maintaining clubs to ascertain clubs’ strengths and challenges and how the collective might better support each other. The all-levels volunteer training survey constitutes the most comprehensive survey of A.T. volunteers ever undertaken. Based on the listening sessions and survey, ATC with support from APPA planned the course structure for the Volunteer Leadership Academy. The three-track academy offers training in Engaging New People, Organizational Leadership Best Practices, Cooperative Management, Project and Volunteer Leadership. 

An Agreements Task Force comprised of APPA personnel, ATC staff, and A.T. volunteers has thoroughly reviewed and built out a Job Hazard Analysis library for use by volunteers, and in June 2020, ATC working with APPA began supporting A.T. clubs in their process to update necessary volunteer service agreements with APPA. Additionally, a check-in/check-out policy was reviewed, revised and adopted through the A.T. cooperative management channels in support of volunteer service in support of the Trail.

Arizona NST

Wildfires burned over 80 miles of the Arizona Trail in 2020. Working with the Arizona Trail Association’s staff and volunteers, the US Forest Service worked to quickly address emergency stabilization needs and reopen segments of trail closed due to wildfire impacts (not all segments have reopened due to hazards). COVID had huge impacts to projects and trail operations, due to conservation corps shutting down their operations and the Arizona Trail Association reducing volunteer opportunities and total numbers of volunteers at each event.

Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT

The Werowocomoco Ancestral Lands Corps Program and the student field trips were greatly impacted. For the interns, we adjusted activities to include telework options and requirements. When local health guidance and park rules permitted, interns were in the field. For student field trips, many were cancelled.

Continental Divide NST

CDTC — Covid- 19 impacted much of the CDT this year. CDTC served as the primary resource for the public to provide guidance and information regarding how COVID-19 was impacting on the Trail resources.  This partnership was extremely successful in maintaining up to date public information.

El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail

In order to reduce exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, NTIR staff have been working remotely throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so until it is deemed appropriate to return to the office by federal, state, and local health authorities.

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail

CARTA — The pandemic impacted CARTA, the organization’s outreach efforts, and the ability of trail enthusiasts and tourists from visited trail-related sites in New Mexico and far West Texas.

Florida NHT

Many trail sections were closed due to COVID-19. We created a COVID-19 JHA to allow trail maintenance to resume and have engaged with many new volunteers. Use of the FT appears to have increased on many sections as a result of COVID-19. FTA created it’s own “Guiding Principles on Diversity and Inclusion” statement. Latinx Partnership Coordinator position created in partnership with ATC.

Ice Age NST

NPS — Adapted our volunteer program at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure the safety of volunteers working to keep the trail open for public use.  We re-worked individual volunteer agreements and JHA documents to incorporate Covid-19 mitigations. We also created a risk assessment tool to assess the Covid-19 threat to volunteers working along different areas of the 1,200-mile trail.

IATA — In response to the ever-developing Covid 19 pandemic, Ice Age Trail Alliance quickly dedicated its resources to a plan for recovery and re-engagement of volunteers and field work with its “Reconnect!” initiative.  The plan was designed to gradually reconnect with volunteers that were beyond anxious to get back on the Trail in response to the incredible increase in trail user-ship, winter and spring maintenance and weather issues.  By mid-late summer, staff was able to reengage  extremely productive trail improvement projects all within local, state and Federal safety guidelines. 

The Alliance experienced a significant increase in membership and trail use during the pandemic. These increases have raised awareness and funding levels from individuals. Covid also severely limited volunteer events including new construction, maintenance, and guided interpretation.

Iditarod NHT

BLM — COVID-19 caused the cancellation of planned volunteer and stewardship events on Southern Trek of the INHT.  Many of the more remote communities along the northern part of the trail and off the road system,  closed their communities to non-residents.  BLM was able to conduct aerial monitoring only after the Iron Dog and Iditarod Dog Sled races because of COVID-19 restrictions.  In prior years wildfires have prevented summer trail work, but this year COVID-19 required trail work on the northern part of the INHT to be rescheduled to next year. 

Juan Bautista de Anza NHT

As we shifted to working remotely, we focused on partner support, finding ways to achieve our goals while ensuring the safety of staff and partners. Education and youth programs successfully pivoted to online and virtual engagement.

We fine-tuned and promoted our virtual interpretation and education content to reach kids and parents at home and adopted new technologies to continue – and in some cases improve – communication and progress along the trail corridor.

We continued with our efforts to include all voices in stories of the Anza Trail and under served populations in our outreach efforts and explored ways we could increase our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the Anza Strategic Plan for the 250th anniversary of the Anza Expedition.

Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

NPS — Outreach was limited due to COVID-19. All volunteer activities were halted due to COVID-19.

National Pony Express Historic Trail 

NPEA — Due to Covid-19 the NPEA cancelled the re-ride which was scheduled for June 2020. It was re-scheduled for August, however not too much had changed and the NPEA decided to cancel it for this year. 

With Covid-19, as a National group at our annual Zoom meeting, we were all instructed to keep group participation down to a minimum, specially where the pubic was concerned.  As a result, not a lot of media events took place this year.

Because of Covid-19 the NPEA Strategic Plan was tabled for 2020 and will be discussed in 2021 when the committee can meet again.

Covid 19 kept our organization at almost a complete stand still.  We had small groups of people trying to keep up on trails projects and trail work.  We did small community projects from a distance and without crowds of people.  We hope this all comes to an end soon, so we can get back to accomplishing trails projects and educational projects for our communities again.

New England NST

Appalachian Mountain Club/Connecticut Forest and Park Association

In April of 2020, AMC suspended all volunteer activities through June, causing trail maintenance to be postponed, this has increased our backlog of projects and maintenance issues. Also adding to the backlog was AMC and CFPA’s decision to not host our summer trail crews due to COVID-19. In the Fall, Hurricane Isaias caused major blowdowns and trail damage in Connecticut that CFPA is still working to clear.

Nez Perce NHT 

NPTF — The foundation has been on a shut down for 2020

North Country NST 

NCTA — Established a COVID task force consisting of staff, volunteers and Agency partners to strategize best practices and form guidelines for NCTA volunteers during the pandemic.

North Country Trail volunteers faced a number of work restrictions across 8 states during the pandemic. We had a decrease in group projects and events, but volunteers remained active in individual trail projects and planning efforts. The NCT volunteer community stayed engaged through monthly Leadership team meetings and over 135 Chapter-led virtual events. The NCT saw significantly higher than average trail use during 2020.

Old Spanish NHT 

Due to Covid-19 the OSTA annual conference has been postponed which would have included volunteer training programs.

Overmountain Victory NHT

NPS — Public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in park visitors searching for more ways to explore outdoors. Overmountain Victory NHT has been working closely with other NPS sites in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Parks Group to ensure that visitor safety is paramount in operations while allowing them a chance to socially distance and explore the nature and history protected by our sites. 

COVID-19 significantly impacted park operations for the majority of the year. Visitor centers were closed, staff interaction with visitors was limited, travel was restricted, maintenance projects were postponed, and major on-site programs were eliminated or greatly reduced in order to comply with federal, state and local COVID-19 protocols.

Pacific Crest NST 

FY20 was a year of challenges with the Covid19 Pandemic curtailing volunteer maintenance work, a surge of visitors to public lands, and ending with a severe wildfire season in CA and OR.  PCT management was focused to provide timely information targeted to keep trail users and volunteers safe, support local communities during the pandemic, and assess fire damage.  Extensive coordination with the units along the trail was required to assess Covid19 risk and agency adequacy to accommodate volunteer programs. In a few places volunteers were able to assess trail conditions and youth corps were able to complete trail construction and maintenance work. All field programs were significantly curtailed.  

Pacific Northwest NST

PNTA — Aided by an early season internship position, PNTA created a 45 page COVID-19 Field Safety Manual which the organization was able to utilize to maintain full operational capacity throughout the field season. In addition to maintaining internal capacity, the plan was utilized by agency partners across the country, and allowed local partners, who were otherwise unable to get to work, to maintain productivity through PNTA coordination.

Potomac Heritage NST

PHTA — Covid has prevented us from leading any hikes, but we have been able to go out in small numbers to maintain the trail

Selma to Montgomery NHT

All do the 3 visitor centers have been closed since March 19, 2020 due to the pandemic.

Star Spangled Banner Trail 

The Trail has two existing agreements with Living Classrooms Foundation; one for the Trail Stewards Program and the other for the Paddle Program. Both projects were put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.  The deadlines for the agreements have been extended and plans call for implementation in 2021.  

Several of the Trail’s school and public programs were impacted in 2020 due to COVID-19.  Trail Stewards, the Paddle Programs (for youth, veterans, and general public) and Pride Ambassador sail were all postponed until 2021. Additionally, the Trail was not able to support partner events (by sending uniformed ranger or living history interpreters), which is usually done each year.


Three funded events had to be postponed: a Trail-long Bike and Kayak Tour, a 300th Anniversary celebration of a historic site in Connecticut and a series of Junior Passport program events in New Jersey/New York.