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Envisioning the Future of the GMC (5/05)

Each GMC section has a volunteer representative on the main club’s Board of Directors. This person shares in discussions and decisions about GMC’s philosophy, finances and mission. The directors also carry questions, concerns and information from their sections to the main club and then keep the members of their own sections up to date.

Well, it’s been another eventful year for the GMC. Shelters, privies and bridges are getting built, and unbuilt! The new Rolston Rest Shelter, donated by the recently deceased Tom Abbott, was completed in 2004. The Short Trail in Waterbury, an interpretive and educational trail, was also completed, and the original Journey’s End Camp was dismantled for reassembly on the Short Trail in 2005. Many hands – volunteers, trail crew and staff - worked on the new bridge across the Lamoille River in Johnson, a symbolic link between the Laraway and Sterling sections of Long Trail. The bridge will be dedicated at the Annual Meeting in June, celebrating years of planning and hours of toil.

In other news, the GMC website is being redesigned, aiming for a March launch. New publications are in the works. A full slate of Educational programs is planned for the winter and spring. And the GMC conducted a member survey in 2004 designed to help the club plan future activities according to the beliefs and desires of its members.

Last summer, the GMC was caught in the middle of an unwelcome media swirl, when wilderness opponents objected to a Chittenden Bank promotion encouraging people to join the GMC, causing the bank to cancel the promotion. In September, the Board was asked to consider withdrawing from the Vermont Wilderness Association by a member who argued that supporting additional wilderness creates undue political difficulties along with challenges to maintaining the Long Trail in wilderness areas. The Board discussed this and voted to continue support for wilderness.

In financial news, we anticipate a scaled-back field season in summer 2005 due to constraints in the Federal Budget. However, the Vermont General Assembly budget included money in the state budget for further LT land acquisitions, and we hope to continue to receive level funding in 2005. (Send letters of support to your state legislators!)

Long-range goals include completing Long Trail Protection, building endowments for trails & shelters, rebuilding the hiker center and improving the other Waterbury facilities. If 10 million tax-free dollars fell out of the sky today, we could stop worrying! Since that’s unlikely, the GMC has begun a capital campaign. We’re now in the “quiet phase”, laying the groundwork for success by recruiting Campaign chairs, enlisting and training campaign volunteers, and developing campaign policies & protocols. Some club members have expressed fears that a Campaign might require changing the “culture” of the club or the composition of the Board of Directors, as has happened in other larger hiking clubs. Please rest assured, as Board members themselves strongly oppose this idea. Most of us volunteer, as Board members or otherwise, because we have a strong love for the Long Trail and the GMC - not because we have wealthy and powerful contacts. Nor will we neglect the trail in order to raise money – since the Trail IS our main priority. The Capital Campaign, like much of the GMC’s work, will be a grassroots, volunteer-driven endeavor. Money won’t be the only product, though we do need funding to secure the future of our beloved Long Trail. I believe we will also build on the strengths and talents of the GMC: our membership and volunteer base, our love for hiking and the Long Trail, and our ability to articulate this passion to others. Using our energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to the Long Trail, we can ensure that our mission – “to make the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people” – continues for many generations to come.