ADVENTURE

Partners help meet needs of Great Smoky Mountains park, visitors

Donations made to Friends of the Smokies have provided more than $75 million to support park projects, including the Trails Forever program funding trail restoration crews. A year-long restoration of the Abrams Falls Trail implemented numerous improvements toward hiker safety and trail sustainability.

Donations made to Friends of the Smokies have provided more than $75 million to support park projects, including the Trails Forever program funding trail restoration crews. A year-long restoration of the Abrams Falls Trail implemented numerous improvements toward hiker safety and trail sustainability.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves more than 500,000 acres of treasured mountain landscape and roughly 2,900 miles of rivers and streams, all habitat for thousands of species of plants, animals, fungi, and more. In the midst of this impressive biodiversity are nearly 850 miles of trails and numerous iconic landmarks that regularly draw more than 12 million visitors each year — and a record of 14.1 million visits in 2021.

The National Park Service is charged with protecting and preserving this abundant and much beloved place, but thankfully it is not alone in its mission. It relies on four primary nonprofit partners to serve a growing number of visitors and care for a vast and varied park.

In describing Great Smoky Mountains Association’s role as one of these partners, GSMA CEO Laurel Rematore recalled a quote attributed to writer Freeman Tilden, whose work shaped the field of interpretation in national parks: “Through interpretation, understanding; through understanding, appreciation; through appreciation, protection.”

Great Smoky Mountains Association operates official bookstores inside the park and in gateway communities, offering a selection of educational, park-service-approved merchandise including publications, gifts, foods, stuffed animals, and more.

Great Smoky Mountains Association operates official bookstores inside the park and in gateway communities, offering a selection of educational, park-service-approved merchandise including publications, gifts, foods, stuffed animals, and more.

“To me,” said Rematore, “that means that as human beings, we instinctively protect what we care about. GSMA is in the business of helping visitors to better understand the cultural and natural resources found in this park so that they will be inspired to care about and become stewards of this land.”

Word from the Smokies: Volunteer preserves Great Smoky Mountains’ plant diversity

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