Bennington wins Appalachian Trail community designation

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont town's application to be a designated Appalachian trail community was approved, which could mean more hikers and visitors.

Bennington will now be listed on the website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, will host a summer gathering to promote the trail each year and post signage about services available to hikers in the town, the Bennington Banner reported Monday.

A group that includes members of Bennington's Green Mountain Club, local economic and community groups, and residents first decided to apply for the designation in October 2019, the newspaper reported.

Jonah Spivak and Silvia Cassano, two leaders of the initiative, spoke with a panel from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on Saturday, the newspaper reported, and learned that their application was approved, though with requests for some changes.

The group will have to find a different location for a proposed annual summer gathering, for example, Spivak told the newspaper.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has limited the number of hikers on the Appalachian Trail in 2020 and may continue to depress the number of visitors to the trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy initially asked hikers not to use the trail in late March because of the coronavirus outbreak, and then in a statement on its website in July, it asked hikers not to use facilities, including privies, because of “the continued persistence and pervasiveness of new COVID-19 cases along the A.T. corridor."