Restoring trails and supporting wildlife — FOTS highlights in 2014

December 30, 2014

  • Cataloochee Bull Elk

by Julie Dodd

This post shares highlights of some of the Friends of the Smokies projects for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during 2014.

You can click on the links to read more about each project.

Elk herd continued success

Bull elk, Jon Phillips

A bull elk bugles to challenge other males and to attract females. Photo by Jon Phillips

The elk herd was reintroduced into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 13 years ago.

Viewing the elk is one of the exciting nature opportunities in the Smokies and has been made possible by funding from FOTS, grants and thousands of hours of volunteer support.


Chimney Tops Trail re-opens

Chimney Top Trail - positioning steps

Each stair was checked with a level and secured into place.

After three years of work, the Chimney Tops Trail re-opened in December.

The project that was funded by FOTS and involved a special trail crew and more than 9,500 hours of volunteer time.

The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the GSMNP and has been closed for portions of the week for trail work.

You can read about what it’s like to be trail work volunteer and can see the before and after of the trail work.



Collections Presentation Center to be built in Townsend


Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Interim Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pedro Ramos at ChimneyTopsTrail. Photo by Warren Bielenberg

Sally Jewell, US Department of the Interior Secretary, hiked the Chimney Tops Trail in March with Interim GSMPN Superintendent Pedro Ramos.

She made the hike when she was in the Smokies to help announce the construction schedule for the Collections Preservation Center in Townsend.

The facility will cost $4.3 million, with $2 million in support from FOTS and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Saving the eastern hemlocks helps preserve habitat

Sprayer truck spraying hemlocks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sprayer truck spraying hemlocks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. NPS photo

Eastern hemlocks  help create the habitat needed for many animals and fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

FOTS has worked with the GSMNP since 2003 to help eradicate the hemlock woolly adelgid that attack the trees.

Great year of hiking in the Smokies

Danny Bernstein, Holly Demuth and Anna Lee Zanetti

Danny Bernstein, Holly Demuth and Anna Zanetti at a FOTS Classic Hike of the Smokies.

Between our monthly Classic Hikes of the Smokies led by Danny Bernstein and our Get on the Trail with Friends and Missy hikes in April and October led by Missy Kane, Friends of the Smokies members hiked hundreds of miles in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2014.

Thanks to everyone who joined us, rain or shine, for a hike this year.


Grand Fondo — new FOTS fundraiser

The Grand Fondo Asheville provided a fun or competitive cycling challenge and also raised more than $30,000 for FOTS.

This was the first time the event was held and is one of many different fundraising events FOTS holds with its partners and sponsors.

These projects and activities were only possible because of your support.

Thank you to our members, corporate sponsors and partners, and each of you that visited the park, stopped at a donation box and shopped in the visitor centers.

With your help, we can keep the Smoky Mountains truly Great.

Thanks to those who contributed to the FOTS blog during 2014 — providing information, being interviewed via email or phone, writing guest posts, or contributing photos.

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