Lebanon Mountain Trail Project (LMT)
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ECODIT established the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT), a 440-km (275-mile) national long-distance hiking trail stretching from the mountainous areas of Akkar, in the north, to Marjaayoun, in the south. ECODIT delineated, test-walked, and mapped the LMT in collaboration with municipalities, local NGOs, community organizations, scout groups, tour operators, and volunteers. Through in-kind grants, the project established 11 family-owned guesthouses, upgraded two historic town squares, and built several other facilities for visitors, including three picnic areas, a campsite, and an open-air amphitheater/cultural park as part of the Baskinta Literary Trail (BLT). In partnership with the United States Forest Service/Office of International Programs (USFS/IP), the project also trained about 40 protected area and trail volunteers in Trail Construction and Maintenance.  The project researched and published A Guide to the Lebanon Mountain Trail, created a website to promote the LMT (www.lebanontrail.org), and trained 45 champions in hospitality management.During the course of the project, ECODIT set up the LMT project office and hired 12 local long-term staff, including a Lebanese-American Chief of Party,hired the services of 27 short-term,and engaged the services of eight resource groups and partners as well as nine subcontractors from Lebanon and the U.S. ECODIT engaged a dozen Lebanese nature tour operators and businesses during trail delineation to ensure local buy-in. ECODIT used effective planning tools to adapt to changes and emergencies, including the development of a three-month rolling plan to review achievements and plan activities, and the emergency helicopter evacuation of three Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) volunteers by the Marines during the July-August 2006 war.  Since the project ended, ECODIT helped to set up the LMT Association (LMTA) and has assisted the LMTA in developing internal policies and procedures on personnel, accounting, and procurement, and obtaining a $180K grant from USAID/Lebanon to implement the Water Awareness on the LMT (WAT) project, targeting 81 springs along the path of the trail. ECODIT also helped the LMTA to develop a water sampling protocol and trained LMTA staff on how to design and implement a Knowledge-Attitude-Practices (KAP) survey. Under a Letter of Agreement signed between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the LMTA, ECODIT is also providing technical assistance to the Association in implementing the “Sustainable Land Use and Planning on the Lebanon Mountain Trail” pilot project, which aims to develop the first “Trail Corridor Plan.” Today, the LMTA boasts 100 members and has asserted itself as the premier trail organization in Lebanon and the region.