Realizing the Potential for Carbon Sequestration on Appalachian Mountain Club Forest Lands

Appalachian Mountain Club

Gorham, NH, 03581


Dr. David Publicover
Senior Staff Scientist

Project Description: 

Organizational description:  Founded in 1876 and headquartered in Boston, MA, the AMC is the nation’s oldest recreation and conservation organization.  AMC’s mission statement states “The Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.”  The AMC has more than 100,000 members, advocates, and supporters, including 12 local chapters from Maine to Washington, DC, more than 16,000 volunteers, and over 450 full time and seasonal staff.  AMC’s activities and programs include operation of over 50 recreational facilities throughout the northeast (most notably a series of high mountain huts in the White Mountain National Forest), outdoor recreation trips and programs, trail construction and maintenance, environmental education, and conservation advocacy and research.  Initiated in 2003, AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative includes nearly 70,000 acres of forest land in the 100-Mile Wilderness region managed for a combination of outdoor recreation, natural resource protection, sustainable forestry, and community partnerships.


The AMC seeks a Switzer Fellow to provide leadership to an emerging effort to maximize the carbon sequestration potential of AMC’s forest lands in service of AMC’s mission and organizational goals.  The position would be housed in AMC’s Research Department at the AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountain National Forest, located on Route 16 south of Gorham, NH.


AMC’s mission statement is to “promote the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions” and addressing climate change today is part of the organization’s focus. Action to address climate change is relevant to several goals set forth in the club’s “Vision 2020”.

Over the past decade AMC has become actively involved in efforts to combat climate change in selected areas that are germane to this mission.  Our involvement is described on AMC’s web site and in the club-wide energy policy  and takes many forms.  AMC has made an organizational commitment to reducing our own carbon footprint by 80% from our 2004-2005 baseline by 2050.  Steps taken to meet this goal include increasing the energy use efficiency of AMC’s facilities, utilizing on-site renewable energy sources, promoting the use of remote communications rather than physical travel, and promoting the use of carpooling and public transportation by staff and visitors to AMC’s facilities.

The role of a Switzer Fellow:

We are seeking to engage a Switzer Fellow for the purpose of addressing many issues associated with the broader question of how AMC can best utilize the carbon sequestration potential of AMC’s forest lands in service of our mission.  The Fellow would provide analysis and information that will guide future decisions about issues and questions raised in this paper.

Among the tasks that would or could be undertaken by the Fellow are:

• Conduct a more refined estimate of the viability of a carbon offset project on MWI managed lands using existing inventory information.
• Assess the financial tradeoffs between timber harvesting and carbon credits on MWI managed lands under a range of prices for both products.
• Conduct a more refined estimate of the viability of a carbon offset project on the Cardigan Reservation (including conducting a field inventory).
• Develop an estimate of unofficial carbon credits that would accrue for the Roach Ponds reserve (including conducting a field inventory).
• Develop a more refined estimate of the carbon footprint of guest travel to AMC facilities.
• Evaluate issues (ethical, public relations, etc) related to using unofficial credits for internal AMC purposes (primarily offsetting organizational carbon footprint).
• Investigate the practicality of and procedures for selling carbon credits (official or unofficial) to AMC guest to offset their travel to AMC facilities.
• Develop educational materials for AMC staff, board and members on issues related to forests, climate change and AMC lands.
• Work cooperatively with AMC staff to develop a long-term plan on how best to utilize the carbon sequestration potential of AMC’s forest lands.
• Assessing how well AMC’s experience and gained knowledge can extrapolated to broader issues and landscapes. On a larger scale these results could have precedence for other conservation forest lands and addressing the tourism transportation travel sector, whose greenhouse gas emissions are currently not regulated (unlike the electrical generation sector).

Participation in this project would provide the Fellow the opportunity to utilize and enhance their knowledge and skills in a range of areas related to the relationship between climate change and forests, including ecosystem service and forest carbon offset markets, regional forest ecology and management, forest inventory and modeling, organizational carbon footprint analysis and economic analysis.

We do not expect the Fellow to possess all of the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out this project.  Our work in this area over the past decade has involved an extensive learning curve and we expect the Fellow to be part of this on-going organizational education.  The primary requirements for the Fellow are strong written and verbal communications skills, strong quantitative abilities and experience with using geographic information systems.  However, knowledge and experience in one or more of the areas outlined in the previous paragraph would be highly beneficial.

Timeline: The appointment would initially be for one year with the expectation that it would be extended to two or more years. .  The Fellow will work with AMC staff to develop a Switzer Leadership Grant proposal. AMC has other funding proposals it is also pursuing.  This position will be open until filled and funding is achieved.

A more detailed project description is attached.


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