2022 Park Needs

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Every year, the park asks Friends to support special projects and programs that would otherwise go unfulfilled. Your gifts help us fund these requests and it makes a huge difference in providing visitors with the best possible experience while protecting and preserving our beloved Smokies.

Your contribution makes a difference in supporting special programs and projects like:

Smokies Wildlife

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest tracts of wilderness in the Eastern United States, and provides crucial wildlife habitat. The Smokies is home to 65 species of mammals, 67 species of native fish, 200 varieties of birds, and 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. The park’s most famous residents are black bear and elk, but the Smokies is also known as the ‘Salamander Capital of the World.’ Friends of the Smokies supports programs wildlife conservation program like:

  • Bear-proof backcountry food storage
  • Fisheries program support
  • Elk management and monitoring equipment

Park Plants

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most biodiverse national park in America. More than 1,500 types of flowering plants and 450 nonflowering plants are found in the Smokies. The park also provides ideal habitat for 100 species each of native trees and shrubs. Many park plants are considered rare, threatened, or endangered. Friends of the Smokies supports the protection of these plants through programs like:

  • Hemlock preservation program
  • Ash tree protection program
  • Cades Cove and Cataloochee field conservation

Park Stories, Past & Present

Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves and shares the rich and continuing stories of human history in the Southern Appalachians. The park protects artifacts, landscapes, and structures that help weave mountain families’ stories together. Friends of the Smokies is committed to these efforts, and funds projects and programs like:

  • African American Experience Research Project
  • Forever Places
  • Living history and cultural demonstrations
  • Event support for park descendant 

Volunteers in the Park

Through the Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program, more than 3,000 individuals contribute over 150,000 hours of volunteer service every year and support virtually all phases of park operations. Friends of the Smokies supports volunteer programming like:

  • Cades Cove volunteer bike patrol support
  • Volunteer roadside assistance support

Visitor Safety

More than 14 million people visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park  last year. The National Park Service works to provide every visitor with a safe and positive experience. Friends of the Smokies supports these efforts by funding:

  • Safety equipment for Search & Rescue Team
  • Advanced Search & Rescue training

Recreation & Adventure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a multitude of recreational opportunities in the frontcountry and the backcountry. Visitors find solitude and adventure on the nearly 900 miles of trails, 800 miles of fishable streams. Campgrounds, campsites, picnic areas, and scenic drives continue to facilitate smoky mountain memories for generations of park users. Friends of the Smokies supports recreation projects and programs like:

  • John Oliver Accessible Trail maintenance
  • Trails Forever
  • A.T. Ridge Runner support
  • Cades Cove vehicle free day parking lot trail

Education Programming

Great Smoky Mountains National Park fosters opportunities to experience the Smokies as an outdoor classroom. School aged children, teachers, and visitors benefit from the distance and place-based learning programs provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers. Examples of education programming supported by Friends of the Smokies include:

  • ‘Parks as Classrooms’ program support
  • ‘Parks in Classrooms’ program support
  • Urban youth program
  • Gateway community school experience

Science & Research

The Smokies is a place of discovery. Scientists and researchers from around the world come to the park to conduct studies and contribute to the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, which has documented more than 20,000 species in the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also the site of the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center, one of the 17 Research Learning Centers located in national parks across the country.

Parkwide Management

Funds for parkwide management will be used to pursue project opportunities that develop throughout the year that enable the park to better support employee development, care for park resources, or provide recreational opportunities for visitors. Examples include:

  • Visitor amenities
  • Traffic study


For more information about specific projects and programs, contact us at info@friendsofthesmokies.org.