Maine Chapter celebrates with the ATC’s David Startzell

Don Hudson, Dave Startzell, Dick Anderson
On Saturday, January 21st, IAT Founder Dick Anderson and Maine Chapter President Don Hudson traveled to the Bavarian Inn on the banks of the Potomac River in Shepherdstown, West Virginia to join over 100 family, colleagues and friends to celebrate the 34-year leadership of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy by David Startzell.
Dave announced his retirement in November 2010 and he’ll wrap up his work for the ATC on January 31, 2012. It is fair to say that no one in the world has done more to promote the benefits to people and communities of long distance trails. The International Appalachian Trail was one of many footpaths in the world that were inspired by the Appalachian Trail. David Startzell began his career in planning 40 years ago and moved to the ATC 34 years ago. That move has proved to be one of the most important dates to remember in the annals of land conservation in North America. The idea of connecting mountain tops and communities along the spine of the Appalachians was first presented by Benton MacKaye in 1921 and it became a reality on the ground by the end of the 1930s as a result of the leadership of Maine-born Myron Avery. The route from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Maine came into the portfolio of the National Park Service a few short years into Dave’s leadership at the ATC. There is no doubt that the consolidation of land ownership along the Appalachian Trail could not have been achieved without Dave’s efforts. He galvanized ATC board members and staff, as well as state, federal and non-profit partners throughout 14 states, and showed them the way to completing the monumental task of conserving the AT corridor forever. MacKaye envisioned the AT; Avery built it; and Dave Startzell protected it forever. Throughout his storied career at the ATC, Dave has taught generations of hikers and ‘maintainers’ about the values of stewardship.

Dick Anderson
When it was Dick Anderson’s turn to celebrate Dave’s tenure at the ATC, he chose his words carefully (watch video). Dick made a special note of the difficult and complicated nature of conserving the AT corridor, and said, "We owe Dave a wicked debt of gratitude for his 34 years of leadership!"
While at the party, Dick and Don were able to meet the new Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Mark Wenger (read story), who will bring great experience in non-profit leadership to the ATC on February 1, 2012. Dick briefed Mark on the current status of the IAT in North America and Europe and invited him to attend the first meeting of all the IAT chapters, which will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, June 15-17, 2012 (read story).

Mark Wenger

Dick Anderson, Mark Wenger and Don Hudson
As the speeches wound down, nearly 3 dozen ATC staff and former staff came to the front of the room to show off their tribute to their leader. Baring arms, necks, (upper) breasts, and ankles, all showed off tatoos of Dave Startzell’s distinguished and memorable profile (temporary, we presume!). We’re pretty sure that no former non-profit leader has inspired such a unique measure of devotion and affection, and… it got a great laugh from all in attendance!
And so concluded a warm and wonderful celebration of a giant in conservation and long-distance hiking, Dave Startzell.
By Don Hudson