I just received my email copy of the Know Before You Go newsletter from the Friends of the Smokies. In this issue they included a link to their "Needs List" as approved by their Board of Directors on November 8th.
This year Friends is looking to fund programs benefiting the Smokies that total more than $1.2 million. Many of the programs are probably very familiar to fans of the Great Smoky Mountains, such as the Elk Bugle Corps, suppression of the woolly adelgid infestation, and support for the Appalachian Bear Rescue.
However, there are several programs on their list that directly impacts hikers and backpackers. For instance, in 2011 they will need:
* $146,900 for the Trails Forever program. Apparently the Forney Ridge Trail is high on their list for rehab work this year. (this is also the largest line item on the list)
* $50,000 to rehab the Laurel Gap Shelter near Balsam High Top - this is the last of the 15 shelters to be remodeled in the Smokies.
* $38,700 for the Appalachian Trail Ridge Runner project.
* $25,000 for Student Conservation Association trail rehab projects.
* $4500 for the Black Bear Hiking Patrol (never heard of this one??).
* $4000 to install or improve food storage cable systems.
These six projects alone, that have a direct impact on hikers, represent more than 22% of the Friends Needs List for the upcoming year. If you're interested in helping out, Friends of the Smokies could always use your financial help.