DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Appalachian Trail Conservancy- Damascus

Jay Prevatt

DOI / VISTA: Jay Prevatt
Supervisor: Gavin Blevins
Address: 399 S Beaver Dam Ave, Damascus, Virginia 04462-1073
County: Washington County, Giles County, Bland County, and Marion County
Voice Telephone: 276-783-5103
Web site:
Web site 2:
Congressional District: 9
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


Founded in 1925, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’ (ATC)- Damascus, VA mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.

The DOI/VISTA project site Appalachian Trail Conservancy’ (ATC)- Damascus, VA is sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS) whose mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

About the Surrounding Community

The ATC serves 31 communities, many of which have been classified as “distressed” by the Appalachian Regional Commission. In Washington County, VA 13.6% of people live below the poverty threshold. Damascus, VA is a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where 29.5% of people live below the poverty threshold and is well known as a "Trail Town" along the Appalachian Trail due to the influx of hikers and bikers taking advantage of the beautiful trails the community has to offer. The trail runs directly through the heart of Damascus, where hikers often stop for supplies, overnight accommodations, a visit to the library, or a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. Damascus also serves several other recreational trails, including the National Bicycle Trail, Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail, and many more; this makes it an ideal candidate for trail and outdoor recreation related economic development. Data collected by the Southwest Virginia Economic Development Commission in 2006 indicated that “Farming, coal mining, and textiles have been the backbone of the economy in Southwest Virginia for generations. Over time, natural resources (agriculture) and mining declined nearly 50% during the prior decade, while the manufacturing industry fell by 32%, a regional loss of about 18,000 manufacturing jobs. Outdoor recreational tourism is becoming the new economic driver in the region, and towns like Damascus are utilizing their unique assets to create a stronger economy. 

Project Overview

DOI/VISTA Jay Prevatt is coordinating job training partnerships with NPS to launch an increased number of vocational, cultural, and recreational opportunities for the targeted service group as part of Groundworks effort to create paid conservation jobs for disadvantaged minority youth in Doña Ana County. Jay is also recruiting Youth Corps members and volunteers, as well as developing after school environmental education programming.

Sponsors and Partners

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