AUGUSTA — Recent events are shining the light on the Appalachian Trail in Maine and calling attention to issues surrounding the stewardship of this national resource.

A little-known fact is that the Maine Appalachian Trail Club manages and maintains 95 percent of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. We’re volunteers, and here’s a glimpse into the day in the life of the club’s trail maintainers.

The day begins early because sunlight is the only means of illumination. It’s quiet.

Trail maintainers hike to remote corners of Maine, typically alone, but sometimes in groups, carrying tools, a chainsaw or brush cutters, along with the day’s meal and a few snacks on their back.

Perhaps they’ve been coming to this section of the Appalachian Trail for decades. Or maybe this is their first year of trail maintenance at Maine’s second national park. Along with their tools, they carry a sense of responsibility.

Since 1935, Maine Appalachian Trail Club volunteers have managed and maintained 267 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, about one-eighth of the entire 2,180-mile footpath connecting Springer Mountain in Georgia with Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Maine sees the bulk of “thru- hikers” arrive as early as late July, and they continue arriving through mid-October. It is imperative that the trail is cleared, safe and properly marked.

Trail maintainers are responsible for removing footpath obstructions such as blowdowns and other vegetation from the pathway; painting and maintaining blazes; repairing rock cairns; clearing debris from water channels; and removing trash and illegal fire rings from undesignated campsites.

During initial visits to the AT this season, trail maintainers found the forest floor littered with an unprecedented number of trees, broken like matchsticks from the previous winter’s storms.

As trail reports poured in, the picture became clear: This would be a cleanup like no other season in recent memory.

Veteran Maine Appalachian Trail Club member David Field said his three-mile section, which typically might have 30 or 40 trees on the ground – or “blowdowns,” as they are referred to – saw nearly 180 this year.

In the Whitecap Region, Ron Dobra spent the month of June on the Appalachian Trail clearing debris to make the footpath accessible. The Appalachian Trail’s iconic white blazes were either gone or the trail impassable at Mount Abram as Tony Barrett cleared his section.

This all-volunteer group gets no pay, no benefits – and very little recognition. It’s the nature of the job description.

Maine Appalachian Trail Club membership is required once you receive an assignment. You will need to attend chainsaw safety training if you wish to use a chainsaw on the trail.

But as the club celebrates our 80th year, we are on a membership drive. And there are a variety of ways to be a part of maintaining the Appalachian Trail without ever having to use a chainsaw as many trail maintainers choose to do.

We are fortunate to have 34,000 acres of National Park Service land surrounding much of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Caring for and protecting that land is essential, and that’s where our volunteer corridor monitors come into play.

Corridor monitoring offers an opportunity to get off the trail footpath and explore some incredibly beautiful areas that those who only walk the trail never see. For those seeking something new in trail stewardship, as well as a little excitement and a chance to satisfy an urge to explore, corridor monitoring may be just what you are looking for.

Committees guide and plan for upcoming and ongoing issues. In 2017, Maine will host the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s biennial meeting, held in one of the 14 states that the trail traverses. Wind power, campsite and development committees are a few of the ways we tap into volunteer expertise.

All you need is an understanding of and respect for this national treasure called the Appalachian Trail as it climbs 52 summits, crosses countless streams, rivers and bogs and provides the habitat for wildlife and vegetation throughout Maine. We’re proud of the job the Maine Appalachian Trail Club is doing, and we invite you to join us!