NPCA Official Selected To Lead The Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Ron Tipton, the senior vice president for policy of the National Parks Conservation Association, is leaving that position to take over as executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. ATC photo.

Ron Tipton, whose resume reflects a career spent on advocating for the outdoors, has been chosen to lead the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as its executive director.

Mr. Tipton most recently has worked as the senior vice president for policy for the National Parks Conservation Association. He will leave that job next month to join the Conservancy.

Mr. Tipton has spent most of the past 30+ years as an advocate for public land preservation and national park protection. A graduate of George Washington University with an undergraduate degree in American Studies and a law degree from GW’s National Law Center, he first worked as a program officer at the National Academy of Sciences and on the oversight/investigative staff of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

Since 1978 he has been a part of the advocacy and/or management team of four non-profit national conservation organizations: The Wilderness Society, National Audubon Society, World Wildlife Fund, and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

Mr. Tipton was the senior vice president for programs for NPCA from 2000-2008, when he became the senior vice president for policy. Currently, he is focused on expanding the number of national park units to increase the natural and cultural diversity of the park system as the country approaches the 2016 centennial celebration of the National Park Service.

“Ron has the passion, management experience, and advocacy skills that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is looking for, plus a strong connection to the Appalachian Trail and the Trail community. His high standards and experience will help move the organization forward to serve the next generation of Trail users," said Bob Almand, who chairs the Conservancy's board of directors.

Mr. Tipton has been a member of the board or governing council of numerous recreation and trails organizations, including the ATC, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association.

“I feel incredibly privileged and honored to be asked to be Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s executive director/CEO. Since I hiked the Trail I have served as a volunteer for more than 25 years with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and helped found the Appalachian Long Distance Hiker’s Association," said Mr. Tipton.

Mr. Tipton enters the ATC at a time of growth and an expanding agenda for preserving the rich natural and cultural resources along the Trail corridor. The ATC currently has more than 43,000 members, a vast network of more than 6,000 volunteers, and an operating budget of $7.3 million.

The ATC is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting and promoting the world’s most famous long-distance hiking Trail, providing outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for Trail visitors.

Founded in 1925, the ATC is a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and has regional offices in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. The ATC is both a confederation of 31 local Trail-maintaining clubs, with assignments to maintain the Trail, and a membership organization with support from all 50 states and more than 15 foreign countries. Under agreements that date back to the 1930s, buttressed by federal legislation, the ATC leads a cooperative management system for the Trail in close cooperation with federal, state and local agencies and Trail-maintaining clubs.

Given the Trail’s historic legacy of volunteerism, many of the ATC’s programs are focused on supporting and encouraging volunteers. Some of the key activities and initiatives include Trail management and support, conservation, advocacy, and environmental monitoring and research. Some of the ATC’s new initiatives include the Trail to Every Classroom and the Appalachian Trail Community™ program.

The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is a unit of the National Park System, stretching from Georgia to Maine, at approximately 2,180 miles in length. Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours of their time doing trail-related work each year, and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year.


I hope that this guy doesn't bring a "national Park Service does no wrong" mentality into his new position. The unfortunate bent of these types is that they bring an attitude of "the poor, poor, NPS." He needs to check with the ATC and see how unpopular many of the fees are especially in the Smokies. There was talk of rescinding authorization within the ATC for the backcountry fee in the Smokies as it would be pretty much the only place along the AT where a credit card is required for passage. This is a dangerous slope for the ATC to take. As the lawsuit over the fee matriculates (the smokies and NPS have asked for two extensions to get their books in order before the trial. Word is they have even pulled their chief ranger in order to make sure their ducks are in a row)

This new guy could bring some fresh eyes into the controversy, but I'm not personally holding my breath.

Another problem with "these types" are those who feel that "national Park Service does all wrong" is the proper mentality. You've dropped a lot of unsupported conjecture into one paragraph, based on your own baggage. Why saddle him with that?


Look where he comes from. the NPCA. Have you ever seen the NPCA ever go against the NPS on anything? They are nothing more than an open policy rubber stamp for the NPS. That is why he was chosen from those ranks for the same reason Sally Jewell was chosen from the ranks of NPS concessionaires to lead the agency. C'mon. Its not that difficult to follow the money trails here.

backpacker--You have to be kidding! NPCA frequently disagrees with the NPS. For instance, it has been on the NPS's butt since the early 2000s about its snowmobile policies in Yellowstone. Read their testimony. Same deal with the use of personal watercraft in areas of the National Park System. We used to call them our most articulate critics. I know you are angry about the backcoutry fee in the Smokies. That is a legitimate point of view, but don't let it color your attitude about everything else related to the NPS.

If I am not mistaken, Secretary Jewell was the CEO of REI, not an NPS concessioner. And Tipton is a good guy.



REI IS a NPS concessionaire. They take bookings for reservations for backpacking trips in the Smokies and have for several years. They contract through a local guide service that has a ridiculously inappopropriate relationship with the park superintendent which is a driving force behind the fee proposal in the first place. REI supported the fee prior to Jewell's ascension to the throne because it freed up shelter spots for their paying clients. As you peel back the layers, the money trail between the likes of REI types and their employees and the NPS adminstration reeks on multiple levels. These things will be exposed in the lawsuit when the NPS is done stalling with their multiple requests for extensions.

As far as this NPCA guy is concerned, please show me where he has ever objected to any fees in the NPS. If I have missed it, then I would like to see where it is documented.

And objecting to fees is the only standard of his competence?


I have known and worked with Ron for almost 30 years. About the last description I can think of for him is having a "National Park Service can do no wrong" attitude. He has been involved in the full range of land conservation issues, and always taken a strong preservationist stand.

Regarding concessionaires, I agree that there are problems -- as always. And I'm not a big fan of fees. But if those were the biggest issues we had to worry about, we would be in pretty good shape. While we are nit-picking about NPS imperfections, the Forest Service and BLM are logging, grazing, fracking, mining, and allowing ORV abuse on millions of acres of public land. Those are real problems and they are getting worse.

Of course, none of those uses are allowed on NPS lands (with a few odd exceptions forced on the agency by Congress). We need to transfer as much Forest Service and BLM land to the National Park System before we lose more nationally significant places.

National Park System expansion is one of the things where Ron Tipton has shown that he has vision and leadership. We need more of that. The ATC is lucky to get him.

Michael - let me know when you you stop using wood, stop eating meat, stop using petrolueum products, metals, potash or any other mined substance, stop using electricity generated by coal et al. Then we can discuss restricting more land from these activities. Special lands deserve protection but every piece of Federal dirt is not special.

No, a lot of federal land has been ruined and a lot more that should be protected is not and will soon be ruined.


Please identify what Federal Lands will be ruined soon and how.


There is no factual basis for claiming that we need to exploit public lands to use wood, eat meat, etc. That is a misconception perpetuated by extractive industries since the 1800s. Most of the U.S. is public and state land, and our federal lands were the least desirable, least productive, leftover lands.

Moreover, if we want to address the growing problem of climate change, then one of the top priorities should be to stop making it worse by liquidating forests, extracting fossil fuels, grazing livestock, and allowing other climate-unfriendly activities on our public lands. These activities will continue on private and state lands.

Considering how little of America is protected from logging, grazing, drilling, mining, and other development, yes, every piece of Federal dirt is special. And the more we can protect from the destructive activities you are advocating, the better. That includes preserving a lot more land as national parks and wilderness.

As I suspected, you couldn't provide a single example.

No Federal lands aren't the only sources for grazing, mining, petroleum, et al, but they provide a significant share. Shutting them down to these activities would substantially reduce the supply and increase the cost with little if any offsetting benefit. For example, 30 percent of our coal production comes from federal lands.

But then, you worship to the "climate change" god despite the overwhelming evidence so its obvious your concern isn't for the lands but for an entirely different agenda.

Glen Canyon flooded aritfacts and Colorado river, Tongas National Forest old growth, White Sands. I'm sure more will come to mind but come on EC you and I both know you will never acknowledge a problem, that is telling. A bureaucracy like the US federal goverment had to make a mistake somewhere. Are you saying no project on Federal Land ever had a negative environmental affect or said land would not have been better served for present and future generations as a National Park?


Yes, I would agree that I have a dramatically different agenda than you do.

I could list dozens of areas across the country, covering tens of thousands of acres, that are threatened by resource extraction and you apparently cannot think of even one. I consider coal mining on public lands to be a disaster for wildlife habitats, air and water quality, recreation, and cultural sites, but you think it is a good thing. I think we should be weaning ourselves away from fossil fuels, but you apparently think we should keep on mining, drilling, and burning them indefinitely. I believe there is overwhelmig evidence of rapid, human-caused climate change, and you apparently are a fervent climate change denier.

In reading your comments, you sound like an extractive industry representative, not someone concerned about national parks and conservation. I see no reason to take your opinions on national parks and public lands seriously.

re you saying no project on Federal Land ever had a negative environmental affect or said land would not have been better served for present and future generations as a National Park?

Nope - no doubt there were abuses in the past. What I am saying is that I am not aware of any Federal Lands that are currently being or about to be "ruined" by any of these activities.


I believe there is overwhelmig evidence

Then please explain how CO2 emissions have continued to grow significantly but world temperatures haven't increased in the last 16 years.

you sound like an extractive industry representative,

But I am not. And of course you don't take my comments seriously because they don't fit your agenda. I take yours seriously but then use the evidence to reject them.

EC, perhaps you missed this when I posted it in response to the last time you claimed world temperatures haven't increased in the last 16 years. It's from scientists at the University of Alabama, who seem to disagree with your claim.

[= 14px; line-height: 18px; background-color: #efefef]Global Temperature Report: May 2013[/]

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

May temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.07 C (about 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.16 C (about 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

Southern Hemisphere: -0.01 C (about 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit) below 30-year average for May.

Tropics: +0.11 C (about 0.20 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

April temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.10 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.12 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.09 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.17 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

April temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.10 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.12 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.09 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.17 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

"Then please explain how CO2 emissions have continued to grow significantly but world temperatures haven't increased in the last 16 years."

Maybe you should explain why you cite this myth when it has been thoroughly debunked.

"But I am not [an industry representative]. And of course you don't take my comments seriously because they don't fit your agenda. I take yours seriously but then use the evidence to reject them."

I didn't say you are an industry representative, only that you sound like one.

Unfortunately, your "evidence" it is not based in fact. You are just repeating the same old myths I have been hearing from extractive industry for decades. It's tiresome. That is why I don't take your comments seriously.


You sight comparisons to 1978 and comparisons to a 30 year average. Neither of which specifically address the last sixteen years.

For Kevin:

Thoroughly debunked? LOL

Even that conservative bastion the New York Times has conceded the disconnect between warming and CO2 emmission over the last decade and a half:

If it were debunked the chicken-littles would not need to "hide the decline" or manufacture data or suppress and sabotage the works of those showing what a myth AGW is.

But then perhaps you would be happy with millions of bird choppers and millions of acres of glass covering our federal lands - that would be so natural.

I imagine Smokies backcountry fees and climate change will not be high on Mr. Lipton's to-do list as new ATC ED. Can anyone comment on why his predecessor's tenure at ATC was so short? Is ATC the largest non-profit partner (and with the most complicated organizational structure?) of any NPS unit?


Are you serious? You're citing the letter by 16 climate denying "scientists" published in Wall Street Journal as credible evidence? You could not have picked anything that is more tainted with bias and has been more thoroughly debunked.

This notorious letter was signed by such eminent climate "experts" as ExxonMobil executive Roger Cohen and former astronaut and "expert" at the right-wing, Koch Brothers-funded, Heartland Institute, Harrison Schmitt, as well as perhaps the only actual climatologist who still denies climate change, MIT professor Richard Lindzen — who is also a tobacco denier, oil industry fan, and another Heartland Institute "expert." In addition to the WSJ, this letter was prominently featured by Rupert Murdoch's other scientifically respected media outlet, FOX News.

The 16 climate deniers' letter letter was so embarrassingly biased that the radical, left-wing, anti-business publication, Forbes, published an op-ed by a real climate scientist that tore it to shreds. However, while it chose to publish a lame letter by 16 sketchy climate deniers, the WSJ refused to run a letter from 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences, which warned that climate change is a real and growing threat. Fortunately, that far-left, radical journal, Science, stepped up to the plate and published the letter.

Yeah, you and Rupert really got me on that one.

Regarding the New York Times article, maybe you didn't read it very carefully. The article does not "concede" any "disconnect." It points out the tricks used by climate deniers to justify their discredited claims:

"As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.

"Rarely do they mention that most of the warmest years in the historical record have occurred recently. Moreover, their claim depends on careful selection of the starting and ending points. The starting point is almost always 1998, a particularly warm year because of a strong El Niño weather pattern."

The environmental law and policy blog at UC-Berkeley and UCLA explains why this "plateau" does not disprove climate change.

I agree that wind and solar development can cause ecological damage when poorly sited. I generally oppose it on public lands for that reason. However, it is not logical for you to oppose relatively benign wind and solar while supporting massively destructive logging, grazing, mining, and drilling on public lands. This is another example of how your climate change denial is undermining your arguments on national parks and public lands.

Michael Kellett, Thank you for your links. I read both sides and you "thoroughly debunked" ec's arguement.


Thanks. Just thought people deserved the facts, so they could make their own judgement.


Thanks, Michael. Well done. I just snorted in derision and decided not to feed the troll.

Great job Michael of attacking the sources rather than the arguments. Typical of the mythological AGW folks. Hide the decline, manipulate the date, suppress the dissenters, but don't explain the disconnect (as noted by the New York Times) of warming and CO2 emissions. Maybe it is Rick's snorts that are causing the warming.

Oh - and BTW - I just did a 2500 mile road trip, much of it through Federal Land including National Forest. I did not see a single example of any of such lands being ruined by extractive industries or grazing.

And if Forbes Op-ed pieces are definitive - try this one:

Again, we won't come to a consensus on AGW here - but to declare the "science decided" is a massive misrepresentation of the facts.

Didn't think you could drive 2500 miles on a flat earth.