Monday, December 29, 2008

Smoky Mountain News Briefs

I received my copy of the winter issue of "Smokies Guide" the other day. There are a couple of news items and upcoming events I thought that you might be interested in.

Bear Tips Park Dumpsters

As many of you already know, this has been a highly active year for aggressive bears in the Smoky Mountains. Several campsites and shelters were closed for several weeks at a time during the summer and fall. Several hiking trails had aggressive bear activity warnings posted on them as well. At one point, bears dared to enter public restrooms in popular picnic areas.

One bear even learned how to tip over and break into “bear-proof” dumpsters at one of the picnic areas on the Tennessee side of the park! Park Service staff were forced to employ chains and posts to secure the dumpsters in order to thwart the bears. In the end, however, the Park Service had to live-trap and relocate five bears to a different area of the park.

Biologists can't explain the unusual bear behavior since there appeared to be plenty of natural food available during most of the year.

Emergency Stabilization at Elkmont

National Park crews completed emergency stabilization of 18 historic summer cabins and the Appalachian Clubhouse in the Elkmont area this past fall. The park hopes to fully restore all 19 structures so they can be viewed by the public. At this time there is no indication when this will be completed.

Park Adds New Vegetation Crew

The vegetation management team in the Smokies was rewarded with special funding to hire an additional team to fight invasive plants. The crew will focus efforts on the North Carolina side of the park. They will be in charge of helping to eradicate non-native plants like kudzu, English ivy, Oriental bittersweet and privet over the next three years. They will also be helping to save the eastern hemlocks on the NC side as well.

Wilderness Wildlife Week

Wilderness Wildlife Week will be held from January 10-17 in Pigeon Forge and in the Great Smoky Mountains. The free event includes a variety of hikes, field trips, workshops and demonstrations related to the natural and cultural heritage of the Smoky Mountains. For more information, visit or call 865-429-7350.

The Photographs of George Masa

Mapping the Mountains: The Photographs of George Masa. This is an exhibit examining the photography of George Masa at the Asheville Art Museum from February 6 - June 7. Masa was known as "the Ansel Adams of the East". Many of his photographs were used to promote the idea of preserving the Smokies as a national park. For more information, visit or call 828-253-3227.

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