2017 Park Support




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Superintendent’s Priority

Hike 100 Celebration          $5,000
Hike 100 centennial pinThe Hike 100 Smokies Centennial Challenge encourages people to hike 100 miles in the Smokies to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NPS. Successful 100-milers will be rewarded with a commemorative Hike 100 pin at this special event with the park superintendent on December 8.

Solar Eclipse Event          $25,000
A total solar eclipse, during which the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, will take place Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, and all indications say our park’s western half will be directly in line with its path across America. The park will host viewing opportunities and educational experiences at locations in the park such as Clingmans Dome or Look Rock which may involve shuttle buses, area closures, and event logistics.


Wildlife, Wonders, & Wilderness
(Resource Management & Science)

Cataloochee Field Management          $3,000
As part of our field management in Cataloochee, fields are mown once a year to preserve the historical landscape.  Mowing is conducted in August to provide better summer habitat for elk.

Cades Cove Viewshed Mowing          $8,000
As a part of our grassland management and restoration efforts in Cades Cove, fields are kept open by several methods to help provide varied habitats for turkey, coyote, fox, rabbit, deer, bear, ground nesting birds such as quail.  Some fields are mowed after nesting season, while others are burned, plowed, and harvested in the gradual process to restore much of the Cove to native meadow habitat.  These funds support our viewshed mowing that both keep the fields open and provide vistas into the grassland communities.

Cades Cove Panorama by Jim Mowbray

Cades Cove Prescribed Fire Treatment for Field Management          $15,000
These funds will enable crews to apply prescribed fire treatments to restore native meadow habitats for plants and wildlife. Many of the native meadow plants, including Indian Grass and Gama Grass, more successfully reproduce and spread with periodic fires. Prescribed fire treatments are included in the overall effort to maintain the historic, open field appearance throughout Cades Cove.

Cades Cove Historic Field Restoration          $25,000
Some isolated fields in the Cades Cove area did not receive prescribed burn or mowing treatments over the past several years due to a shortage of funds, staff, or unfavorable weather conditions.  These funds will enable crews to remove accumulated large woody growth so that both fire and mowing treatments can be applied to keep these fields open. 

Reduce Backcountry Bear Problems with Food Storage Cable Systems          $4,000
Each backcountry campsite and shelter has a pulley and cable system which campers are required to use to hoist their food and packs out of the reach of bears for the increased safety of both visitors and bears.  Each year a number of these systems are damaged through use or by falling trees and must be replaced.

Support Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR)          $6,000
Each year a number of orphaned or injured Park bears are treated and housed in the nonprofit ABR center in Townsend until they can be released back into the Park.  Prior to the creation of ABR, most of these animals were euthanized.

Bear Management Project          $8,200
These funds will enable wildlife biologists to purchase 3 GPS radio collars, collar detachment mechanisms, and battery replacements.  These collars will be used when DNA analysis is needed to track bears suspected of a bear attack or other significant human/bear interaction while we wait on confirmation of matches between the attack and the suspect bear.

Maintain Protection of Fraser Firs at Purchase Knob          $2,500
Since 1962, the balsam woolly adelgid, an exotic predatory European insect, has killed 91% of the Park’s naturally-occurring stands of high-elevation Fraser firs.  The Park and UT planted 600 seedlings at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob in 1995.  While some of these trees have been attacked by the balsam woolly adelgid, they are treated annually with sprays and pesticides to preserve samples of the trees’ genetic material, which is important for species preservation.  Park staff is hopeful that these will assist in future repopulation of firs.

Suppress Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestation          $40,000
Jason W. treating a hemlock treeSince 2003, Friends of the Smokies has had a leadership role in supporting the most ambitious program in the Southeast aimed at protecting hemlocks from the invasive and deadly hemlock woolly adelgid. The park is now leading control efforts on this forest pest. To date, more than 280,000 individual hemlock trees have been hand-treated, and more than 5,000 acres of hemlock-dominated forest have been set aside as special conservation areas. Protection includes a combination of soap spraying in the front country, systemic pesticides in more remote areas and biological control. Since biological control began, the park has released over 570,000 predator beetles as part of the overall landscape control effort. And, we are now treating more trees using systemic treatments. Through monitoring, we’ve determined that a single systemic treatment that costs 15 cents per inch diameter can protect a tree for up to seven years, saving the park monies!

Increase Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Bio-Control Operations          $18,000
These additional funds will enable the Lyndsey Young Beneficial Insects Laboratory to increase the amount of predator beetle production for 2017.

Public Safety Treatment of Ash Trees and Education Outreach          $31,400
Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native wood boring beetle that feeds on both species of ash trees in the park, has been confirmed along the Gatlinburg Trail, Greenbrier Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Little River Road, Cades Cove and along the northeast boundary of the park. This proposal is for systemic treatment of ash trees in developed areas (campgrounds, picnic areas, parking areas) to prevent hazard tree danger and to treat high ecological value backcountry ash. Some of the trees under threat from EAB exceed 30 inches in diameter and are in good to excellent health. Without treatment trees often die within three years of first signs of infestation, creating hazard trees along roads, in campgrounds, picnic areas and along popular trails.

Brook Trout Restoration on Anthony & Little Cataloochee Creek          $15,500
Support to help with rainbow trout removal on Anthony Creek, preparation of Little Cataloochee Creek for antimycin treatment and collection/translocation of brook trout from neighboring streams for transplant into Anthony Creek.

Water Quality Monitoring Program          $105,000
One of the park’s biggest single resource issues is trying to improve water quality in North Carolina and Tennessee.  All of the Park’s watersheds have their headwaters deep within the protection of the Park far from any upstream point-source pollution, but due to the large amounts of air borne acid and mercury being deposited, and leaching out of soils, many of the Park’s high elevation streams are too acidic to support brook trout.  This project supports a long-term UT study that will help correlate changes (reductions) in acid being deposited with changes in water quality at a site on Noland Divide.

Collections Preservation Center Maintenance & Utilities          $65,000
These funds will allow us to operate the new Collections Preservation Center. The 14,000 square-foot facility space enables us to properly preserve over 418,000 artifacts and 1.3 million archival records documenting the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and four other NPS areas in East Tennessee including Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Obed Wild and Scenic River.


Environmental Education

Experience Your Smokies (NC)          $500
The Experience Your Smokies program provides a unique opportunity for our local residents to get to know the park and its employees in a whole new way.  The program is designed for local residents, business, community and educational leaders to get a behind the scenes look into the national park, while networking with others from western North Carolina.

MYLES Summer Education Program          $5,600
Partnership with Montreat College to provide education programs. Funds will be used for an AmeriCorps intern who will work the MYLES camp participants in the summer.

Educating Inner City and Underserved Students with STEM Initiatives          $3,000
This program included teacher workshops and development of park education materials for the classroom.

Teacher in Park Program at Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center          $4,000
Purchase KnobFunds to support a summer 2017 Teacher in Park position to assist with the high school intern program and summer Junior Ranger programs in NC.

Empower Science Teachers through Teacher Workshops          $4,000
Teachers learn the science of the park and with hands-on teaching techniques to use with their students in the classroom.

Urban Youth Program          $10,000
Through a coalition of organizations called “Everybody’s Environment” working with urban youth in Asheville, NC, the park will work with middle and high school aged urban youth with the specific goal of creating a pipeline into conservation careers. Park staff will meet with students in their urban neighborhoods as well as in the park including 6-8 opportunities throughout the summer to do environmental awareness and citizen science projects in their urban neighborhood. Older students in the program will have their experience culminate with an overnight camping trip in the park at Tremont.

Cherokee Central Schools STEM Education Project          $18,000
Through this project, park rangers will continue to work with high school science classes in the classroom as they did last year through Year 1 funding. In Year 2, these funds will also allow rangers to expand the science programs to the middle school grades including a weekend immersion trip to Tremont in October.

Expand Educational Outreach          $22,300
These funds will be used to build science education programs, reach new audiences, and integrate technology into programs. Funds will also be used to conduct teacher workshops and hire high school interns.

STEM Initiatives for Educating Inner City and Underserved Students          $25,000
This program included teacher workshops, Teachers in Park, and development of park education materials for the classroom.

Park Liaison with Cherokee School          $102,500
To fund a coordinator for an educational partnership between the park and Cherokee Middle School as well as introducing curriculum to all gateway community schools in NC through the development of educational trunk materials. The coordinator will develop, implement, and evaluate a planned curriculum used to educate children as to the cultural and natural resources of the Smokies.

2014 Cherokee 03

Support Parks as Classrooms programs          $92,500
Approximately 18,000 students every year in Tennessee and North Carolina receive curriculum-based environmental education opportunities through the Parks as Classroom program.  These hands-on, ranger-led lessons utilizing the Park as an enormous outdoor classroom help foster a love for nature and inform the next generation of park supporters.


Make A DonationSee a program you love?
Your gifts help us fulfill our Park Support List each year
and make a huge difference for the park.
Make a donation in support of a program today!

Parkwide Volunteers-in-Park Program

VIP Recognition Awards Program          $1,000
Each year over 2,500 individuals contribute over 150,000 hours of volunteer service with VIP’s supporting virtually all phases of park operations. These funds allow us the opportunity to provide recognition in to our year-round volunteers in the form of awards such as plaques, belt buckles, and certificates.

Artist in Residence Program          $6,300
Artists have played important part in the formation and establishment of our park.  Early writers, photographers, painters, and musicians drew inspiration from these mountains and helped translate their purpose as a place of pleasure and preservation.  An Artist-in-Residence supports the opportunity for an artist to live in the park and produce original works of art.  In exchange, the artist agrees to donate a piece of work to the park.


Protecting Historic Places
(Facilities Management)

Visitor Amenities
Funding from Friends of the Smokies maintains vault toilets in these popular areas for visitor convenience.
Townsend Visitor Amenities          $4,000
Roaring Fork Visitor Amenities          $15,000
Cataloochee Visitor Amenities         $17,200

Elijah Oliver Springhouse Rehabilitation          $ 10,000
Park maintenance crews will rehabilitate the Elijah Oliver Springhouse in Cades Cove by repairing stone footings, replacing logs as needed, and re-roofing the structure.

Palmer House Rehabilitation          $76,700
Park maintenance crews will rehabilitate the Palmer House by repairing gutters, replacing siding as needed, repairing mortar joints in the chimney, glazing and painting windows/doors, and painting the exterior. Inside flooring will be repaired with the installation of a wood floor overlay in the museum space. In addition, bat guano will be removed by a contractor and a barrier will be installed to exclude bats from the attic. This work will be complimented by a project funded by GSMA that will provide for the installation of new exhibits and a security system.

Hiram Caldwell House Bat Guano Removal          $26,800
caldwell-house-1These funds will support bat guano removal. A contractor will remove the guano and install a barrier to exclude bats from the attic.

Calhoun House Rehabilitation          $61,500
Park maintenance crews will rehabilitate the Calhoun House by repairing foundation masonry, painting the exterior of the structure, replacing damaged wall paneling, glazing and painting windows/doors, repairing entry stairs, and repairing entry stairs. In addition, bat guano will be removed by a contractor and a barrier will be installed to exclude bats from the attic.

Cook Cabin Porch Rehabilitation          $9,300
In coordination with a volunteer contractor, the Cook Cabin porch will be repaired by a volunteer group who will replace the porch flooring under the guidance of the park historic structure specialist. Park crews will provide the building materials using these funds.

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Rehabilitation          $250,000
TwitterThese funds will allow the park to rehabilitate the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower. The structure is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. This $250,000 grant will preserve the tower and ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.

Trails Forever Rehabilitation of Rainbow Falls Trail (Phase 1)          $256,000
These funds will support the trail rehabilitation along one of the most heavily-travelled in the Smokies as well as the Trails Forever Volunteer Coordinator position that better enables us to engage volunteers of all ages in hands-on stewardship. This project will resolve the safety issues and make the trail more enjoyable to hike.


Improving Visitor Experience
(Resource & Visitor Protection)

Cades Cove Bike Patrol          $900
bikepatrolVolunteer-in-Park Bike Patrollers help Resource & Visitor Protection staff manage bike traffic, provide safety information, and assist in managing accident scenes. These funds will help replace safety uniform shirts, bike equipment, and safety gear.

Jurisdictional Boundary Inventory          $2,000
These funds will enable the park to compile a jurisdictional inventory that list and explains applicable state and local statues, general agreements, lands within the specific park area, and related local or regional issues that impact law enforcement authority. The park’s jurisdictional inventory was last completed in 2003 and is in desperate need of updating.

Privy Supply/Mulch Delivery          $2,000
Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking $2,00 from the Richard Haiman National Park Foundation to support maintaining the mulch supply for the Pecks Corner and Tricorner Knob backcountry privies.  Both of these sites have proven to be extremely difficult to keep adequately supplied with mulch through volunteer efforts alone due to their locations and high visitor use.  The funding would provide for a year supply for both privies to be flown, via helicopter, to Pecks Corner and then half of the supply will be packed to Tricorner Knob.

Support for the Volunteer Elk Bugle Corps          $4,500
Elk Bugle Corps Volunteer Members in Cataloochee ValleyDuring the peak visitation periods for elk-viewing in the Cataloochee area of the park, a team of dedicated volunteers provides interpretive and safety information to park visitors to enhance their viewing experience while helping to preserve the natural behavior patterns of the elk herd. These funds help supply uniforms, educational materials, and supplies.

Reduce Ginseng Poaching through Marking Ginseng Roots          $5,000
These funds support an annual ginseng marking blitz. Thousands of ginseng roots have been marked through this program over the years. Market demands place heavy pressure on this resource from illegal harvesters who poach for profit.  This is a very cost-effective way to assist in the deterrence and detection of commercial poaching of this resource at risk.

Support for the Volunteer Roadside Assistance Program          $11,500
The Smokies recruits a series of retired law enforcement officers and their spouses to patrol Newfound Gap Road and Cades Cove, providing directions and visitor information, responding to disabled vehicles and lock-outs, and assisting with motor vehicle accidents and bear-related traffic jams.  Their presence has substantially freed up the commissioned law enforcement rangers in the park, enabling them to respond more quickly to more serious law enforcement incidents.

Preventive Search and Rescue Seasonal Ranger          $21,200
These funds will provide support for a new preventative search and rescue program.  The program will allow the park to have an employee that provides valuable information to hikers on trail safety, trail difficulty, and educate hikers on proper preparation before beginning their hike.  This employee would also assist in coordinating a larger PSAR program involving VIPs who would serve the same educational function at various trailheads where we see a large/consistent number of SARs.

Support Appalachian Trail Ridgerunner Program          $42,500
Each year the Park recruits a series of individuals who provide a presence on the Appalachian Trail from March through October.  They provide visitor information, do trail maintenance, pack out litter, keep up composting privies, report on the condition of the trail and the shelters, report emergencies and advise hikers on food storage and other regulations, and relay real-time information regarding possible problem bears.  Their presence on the AT for over 15 years has made a huge difference in the Park’s ability to manage the AT.

Total Park Support requested
from Friends of the Smokies in 2017
$1,487,400

Make A DonationSee a program you love?
Your gifts help us fulfill our Park Support List each year
and make a huge difference for the park.
Make a donation in support of a program today!

Download a PDF of the 2017 Park Support List.

Thank you to Sam Hobbs, Chad Taylor, and Bob Carr for use of their images.