Archived Outdoors

Max Patch work earns national partnership award

The Carolina Mountain Club and U.S. Forest Service received the 2023 Public Lands Partner Award, honoring “exemplary partnership” and “stunning achievements” surrounding the restoration of Max Patch. The national award celebrates the best in public lands partnerships.

During the past four years, CMC has taken a leading role in organizing and enacting a Visitor Use Management Committee for Max Patch on the Appalachian Ranger District. In Spring of 2018, CMC and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy developed the Max Patch VUM Committee, bringing together representatives from the Pisgah National Forest, Cherokee National Forest and community members.

out maxpatch beforeout maxpatch after
Photos show Max Patch in 2020 (top) and 2022 (bottom), before and after new rules were instituted for the site. Mike Wurman photos

“Despite facing continued challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has persevered,” said Dan Puskar, President and CEO of PLA. “Together, we have done incredible things.”

Since 2018, the Carolina Mountain Club, the Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy have worked hard to improve the visitor experience and sustainable recreation at Max Patch. Achievements include instituting a process to plan management actions, implementing a trail ambassador program, regular trail maintenance for increased visitation, additional signage and fencing and restoration of vegetation.

Although the nomination focused heavily on efforts at Max Patch, the award recognizes CMC’s other work to strengthen its federal partners and expand outside partnerships on public lands. In 2022, CMC members reported 22,139 hours of volunteer work across four national forest ranger districts spanning three national forests in two states. The club maintains more than 400 miles of trails in North Carolina’s national forests. It received the PLA award as it prepares to celebrate its 100th birthday in July.

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