The 2,160-mile long Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia is a collaborative conservation success
story. Someone once said, "The Appalachian Trail works the way the rest of the world ought to." The Appalachian Trail
Partnership is not perfect, but it is one of the best values in American government today. Collaborative thoughts from
the NPS Park Office and Appalachian Trail Conference staff produced this list of Success Factors for the Appalachian
Ensure Mutual Respect - Practice the Golden Rule. You must be a good partner in order to have
good partners. Nobody gets to be the "heavy." Everybody brings something different to the table and we work together
as equals to reach consensus decisions whenever possible. We resist autocratic decision-making and seek to minimize the
effects of federal bureaucracy on the partnership. We remind ourselves daily that we work for the volunteers, they
don't work for us.
Instill a Sense of Ownership - People should feel that they are part of something great - something that
makes the world a better place - something they expect to pass on to their children and grandchildren. It's their Trail. They
feel personally responsible for it. They feel responsible for protecting and maintaining their portion of the Trail environment
as if it were their own backyard.
Communicate - Communication has to be ongoing and constant. Continually think about all of the potentially
involved stakeholders regarding any given issue and ensure that all are included in the communication loop. It can feel like
endless rounds of consultation, but it's critically important to heading off ungrounded assumptions that can cause partnerships
to self-destruct. Show up and be in the room for partner meetings and events.
Nurture - Partnerships require investments of time, effort and nurturing. Invest time in the care and feeding of partners,
including "schmooze" time - talking and working with partners when it is not the crisis-du-jour. Show up early and stay late.
Often more gets done in partnerships outside of regularly scheduled meetings through informal conversations.
Recognize Limitations - Take the good with the bad. There are times when volunteers and partners might do work that is slower,
of lower standard, or a slightly different direction than agency professionals. But there are times when they do more, do it
better, or head in a better direction than the agency would on its own. On balance, the vast strengths of private sector partners
outweigh any shortcomings.
Use Each Other's Strengths - "You hit 'em high, we'll hit 'em low." We've had repeated success in dealing
with both external (towers) and internal (ATV's) threat issues by presenting a unified front using different tactics but with
a shared targeted goal.
Grow Personal Relationships - Partnerships are about relationships, and relationships are about people.
Invest in and grow the personal relationships, and you will strengthen and grow your partnership.
Remember the Resource - Get together with your partners out on the Trail. Everyone has different
responsibilities, authorities and agendas. A common focus on the resource tends to break down barriers and will result in
decisions and actions with the best interest of the resource in mind.
Leverage - Leveraging combined federal, private, and other public resources (time and money) can accomplish
an exponential number of projects and programs that otherwise would be prohibitively expensive or bureaucratically complex.
Believe in Consensus Building - You have to believe you can make it work and that it's worth the extra
time and effort it takes to achieve consensus.
Satisfaction and Fun - People need to derive a sense of satisfaction from their participation in the
partnership. And people can take on a lot if they get to have fun at least part of the time.