North Country National Scenic Trail 2021 Highlights

The North Country Trail Association and the National Park Service provided the following trail highlights and photos for the 2021 calendar year:

Collaboration and Engagement

Participants from Tiger Pause, a youth ministry group in Western PA whose mission is “to offer holistic programs to young people and equip and empower individuals within disadvantaged neighborhoods.” participate in a day hike on the NCNST. Tiger Pause was awarded a JEDI mini-grant that will provide funding for a three-day, two-night trip for 10 local youth on the NCNST.

NCTA’s JEDI Committee has been meeting monthly and is focused on staff, board and community training as well as the newly launched JEDI mini-grant program. These grants are intended to support JEDI-focused affinity groups leading experiences on the North Country Trail. Workshops, programs, day hikes, overnight trips, and other opportunities connecting people to the Trail are eligible for funding between $500 and $1,000. Three grants have been awarded since the program launched.

NCTA’s Next Generation Coalition has undergone a revamp with new leader, Felicia Hokenstad. Felicia has recruited a new cohort of members, representing each of the NCT states. These members will serve for two years. Many attended the PNTS fall workshop.

Conserving Trail Lands & Boosting Climate Resilience

The National Park Service developed and implemented a new trail project planning and compliance process to more effectively protect resources, prioritize work and available resources and funding, and better protect volunteers who are out building and maintaining trail on behalf of the NCT.

Collaboration and Engagement

The National Park Service met with Middlebury Area Land Trust, Green Mountain Club, North Country Trail Association, and Green Mountain National Forest to develop partnerships and discuss the future new eastern terminus of the NCT in Vermont as described by the 2019 John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

Strengthening Organizations and Partnerships

Representatives from Green Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) met at the GMNF Rochester Ranger Station to discuss the expansion of the NCNST in Vermont. Photo: NCTA

Since the eastward extension of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) into Vermont in 2019, NCTA has been working to build partnerships with local land managers, land owners, volunteers, and partner organizations in the Green Mountain State. In 2019, a team of stakeholders from nonprofits and land management agencies met virtually, but Covid-19 halted travel plans to meet in person until recently.

In August 2021, an in-person stakeholder meeting was held in Vermont. The meeting was joined by partners from North Country Trail Association, Middlebury Area Land Trust, Green Mountain Club, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Agency partners from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service also joined in a meeting hosted by the Green Mountain National Forest. The partners discussed roles and responsibilities in how the North Country Trail is managed. and considered current trail routing and potential new trail segments across the National Forest, easements and private lands. The group also discussed plans for the Eastern Terminus at Maine Junction where the North Country Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Long Trail meet.

Since the August meeting, discussion around route planning has continued. The first certified segments of the NCT are on the ground in VT and plans are underway to continue development on private lands and across the Green Mountain National Forest.

The National Park Service also revised and restructured former volunteer program to more effectively describe the spectrum of work that volunteer may elect to do on behalf of the NCT, and to formalize and document the volunteer enrollment process to provide volunteers with greater protection.

Other Highlights

NCTA launched the inaugural Leadership Summit in 2021. This event was designed to strengthen the skills of Chapter and Affiliate leaders. Three informative workshops were held and focused on understanding issues around the generational shift and diversity in the outdoors as well as a workshop focused on how to recruit and train new leaders into the organization. Dr. Katherine Jeffrey led a session on inter-generational relationships. Dr. Carolyn Finney helped leaders explore how race and privilege play a role in whose stories get shared and who gets to speak on behalf of the natural world. Amy Stork’s session allowed leaders to explore ideas around leadership, governance, recruitment and succession planning. The sessions were all incredibly successful and well attended. NCTA is planning to continue annual Leadership Summit events in 2022.

2024 National Trails Workshop Call for Proposals Open