The Appalachian Trail Conservancy held the workshop and business component of its 2017 Biennial Conference at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, between Friday, August 4th and Sunday, August 5th. The International Appalachian Trail was well-represented by a North American contingent, including Maine Chapter Board Members Dick Anderson, Don Hudson, Earl Raymond, and Herb Hartman, as well as Poul Jorgensen from New Brunswick and Paul Wylezol from Newfoundland. The IAT workshops were well attended, beginning with a presentation by Poul Jorgensen of Sentier NB Trails, which included a nice glimpse of the new southern route for the IAT — from Perth Andover to St. John, and on to southeastern New Brunswick and the links to PEI and Nova Scotia. The IAT is a bit like the Silk Road, as it is a network of trails that lead from Maine through Atlantic Canada to the North American terminus at Crow Head, Newfoundland, overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage site at L’anse aux Meadows.
IAT International Council co-chair Paul Wylezol followed up with an overview of IAT development across Europe, as well as an in-depth introduction to the Global Geopark system, now a UNESCO program on par with Man and the Biosphere and World Heritage program. Paul focused on ‘Drifting Apart’, the EU-funded collaboration of Geoparks around the North Atlantic Ocean Basin, which were inspired — he suspects — by the organizing geologic principles of the IAT. There are two Canadian partners in Drifting Apart, including Stonehammer Geopark in southwestern New Brunswick and Cabox Aspiring Geopark in Western Newfoundland, named after the highest point on the island and featuring the special tectonic history of the Bay of Islands and Humber Valley.