Wanted: Volunteers to adopt sections of Maine Appalachian Trail

With a hiking pole in one hand and pruning shears in the other, Ron Dobra picked his way along the Appalachian Trail, snipping overhanging branches and making note of eroding soil. For the past 20 some odd years, he has helped maintain the popular hiking trail, which spans from Georgia to Maine and is seeing more foot traffic each year.

“The entire length of the AT — 2,200 miles — even though it’s a national park, is maintained and kept open entirely by volunteers,” Dobra, 68, of Greenville, said. “So without volunteers there’d be no Appalachian Trail.”

The vast majority of Appalachian Trail in Maine — 267 miles of 282 miles — is maintained by volunteers of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. Each MATC maintainer is assigned a small section of the trail, usually 2 to 4 miles long, and is responsible for keeping that section in good condition.

In recent years, despite the increasing popularity of the AT, the club has struggled to find enough maintainers to cover every section of the trail in Maine.

“I was told that once upon a time … there was a waiting list for people who wanted to be section maintainers,” Dobra said. “You couldn’t just walk in and get one. You had to be put on a waiting list. Well, that’s not the case anymore.”

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