AMHERST COUNTY, VA (WDBJ7) - There’s around 2000 miles to the Appalachian Trail, winding from Maine to Georgia. And someone has to take care of all that.
Folks like Doug DeJarnette, who with the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club helps keep the trail free of debris, among other things, around here.
Things like, as he explained: “Maintenance, Outdoor recreation, education and outreach.”
And while volunteers can’t be put on furlough, the federal shutdown has put their work on hold because government agencies can’t offer their necessary support.
“When you are doing what is sometimes difficult and dangerous work, those protections, you know, those resources are no longer in place." DeJarnette said. "So we, just like those employees, have to cease working.”
The trails remain open to hikers, and the club has other things they can do. But without Forest and Park Service insurance and support, the trail clearing and maintenance is on hold.
“And we just wait patiently and engage in other activities that are not covered by the volunteer service agreements," said DeJarnette. "And when the government goes back to work and allows us to go back to work, we’ll go back to work.”
And then he can break out the tools again to help out.