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Appalachian National Scenic Trail Superintendent Honored With Stephen T. Mather Award From NPCA


Pam Underhill, superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, has been honored with the Stephen T. Mather conservation award from the National Parks Conservation Association.

The national park advocacy group presented the award to Superintendent Underhill last week in California. She was was recognized for her leadership in managing one of the National Park Service’s most unique resources: a footpath that stretches roughly 2,200 miles through 14 states between Maine and Georgia.

“Pam has fought tirelessly to preserve the integrity of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail corridor, and deserves great credit for her leadership to protect the nearly 2,200 miles of the trail,” said Joy Oakes, NPCA's Mid-Atlantic senior regional director. “After more than 33 years working to protect and enhance the trail, including nearly 20 years as superintendent, Pam has been a forceful and fearless voice for preservation of the natural and cultural resources surrounding the trail.”

As the Appalachian Trail’s superintendent, Ms. Underhill has coordinated one of the most extensive partnership programs in the park system that includes federal agencies, state and local governments, as well as private entities.

One example includes her work on the Trail to Every Classroom program. Through this program, the Park Service provides training for teachers in nearby communities on how to incorporate the Appalachian Trail into core curriculum, which better connects students with the trail, and prepares the next generation of national park stewards.

Superintendent Underhill recently announced her plans to retire from the Park Service after more than 33 years of service. During her time at the park, she has successfully implemented sound management policies, specifically playing critical roles in:

* managing a National Park System unit that stretches from Maine to Georgia through the jurisdictions of 55 members of the Congress, 14 governors, 87 counties, and hundreds of neighboring communities;

* developing and maintaining relationships with key public and private partners;

* protecting the trail from incompatible threats, including transmission lines, wind mill proposals, gravel mines, adjacent development, and many others.

“What better way to honor her unwavering dedication than with this year’s Stephen T. Mather Award,” said Ms. Oakes.

The Stephen T. Mather Award was presented and celebrated at this year’s 35th annual Ranger Rendezvous event in California. First presented in 1984, NPCA’s Stephen T. Mather Award is named after the first director of the National Park Service and given to individuals who have shown steadfast leadership and persistent dedication to our national parks.


Congratulations Pam! A much deserved reward for your many years of exemplory service as witnessed by one of your volunteers throughout your tenure.

What is not mentioned in this article is Pam's extraordinary ability to run this 2200 mile long park essentially with volunteers. She's been there to support and honor them from the beginning. I'm sure I can speak for the volunteers in saying "Thank you, Pam"


It's hard to believe you would be the "skunk" at any gathering. Certainly, for the thousands of us involved with the Appalachian Trail you have been the toast of the party. Congratulations on this well deserved recognition.

What a wonderful and well-deserved recognition Pam! Let me add my thanks to the others for a veritable lifetime of service to the NPS and the Appalachian Trail in particular. I'd rather imagine you as a mother hen (instead of a mother skunk) keeping the horde of ATPO staff, ATC staff, and volunteers all working toward the same goals! Thanks for all you have done and continue to do!

Ron Rosen, AT Coordinator (volunteer) for NY-NJ Trail Conference

Best Wishes Pam I hope you enjoy your retirement.

Thank you for all your help over the years.

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