Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Temporary Closures for Cades Cove Loop Road in January

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the temporary closure of the Cades Cove Loop Road for 6 days in January to complete hazard tree removal. The road will be closed to all pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists January 6th through January 8th, and January 13th through January 15th.

“We regret the inconvenience to Cades Cove visitors,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We chose mid-week dates in early January when visitation is expected to be low to accomplish the needed work, but we realize that some visitors will be disappointed.”

In addition to the Cades Cove Loop Road, hazard trees will be removed from the Cades Cove Campground. The campground will remain open during the closure, but campers may be relocated during the work period.



Jeff
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tennessee State Parks Kick off New Year with First Hikes

Tennessee State Parks has announced that it will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day. Each state park will host its own special hike in the first few days of the New Year.

The First Hikes begin at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 at Radnor Lake State Park. Henry Horton, Harrison Bay, Tims Ford, Norris Dam and Pickett state parks will host midnight hikes. The First Hikes will continue throughout New Year’s Day with morning, afternoon and evening hikes.

“Our First Hikes have been very popular and we are excited to continue this series in the New Year,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said. “The First Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.”

From Reelfoot to Henry Horton to Roan Mountain and every state park in between, the 2015 First Hikes are designed for all ages and abilities. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length and tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier and geared toward more experienced hikers. For a more in-depth look into planned First Hikes in your area, please click here.

Tennessee State Parks’ First Hikes of 2015 are part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Partners Make Progress in Restoring Grandfather Ranger District

The U.S. Forest Service and a spectrum of partners collaborated to help restore close to 6,000 acres in the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, through the Grandfather Restoration Project over the past year.

“I commend our partners for their ongoing hard work and dedication to the Grandfather Restoration Project,” said Grandfather District Ranger Nick Larson. “This year’s accomplishments illustrate the power of leveraged resources and how great things can be achieved when diverse partners collaborate in a single landscape.”

The Grandfather Restoration Project is a 10-year effort that increases prescribed burning and other management practices on 40,000 acres of the Grandfather Ranger District. The project is restoring the fire-adapted forest ecosystems, benefiting a variety of native plants and wildlife, increasing stream health, controlling non-native species and protecting hemlocks against hemlock woolly adelgids. The project is one of 10 projects announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February 2012, under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program.

In fiscal year 2014, the Grandfather Restoration Project established forest vegetation on 44 acres, improved forest vegetation on 339 acres, restored or enhanced 5,345 acres of terrestrial habitat and 2.5 miles of stream habitat. The Project also treated for invasive species on 135 acres, restored watershed health on two acres, maintained or improved 50 miles of trails, and reduced hazardous fuels on 3,439 acres.

Project partners provided the following contributions in fiscal year 2014:

* The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission improved early successional habitat (young forests) by mowing 648 acres, treating 44 acres of invasive species, conducting 13 different surveys for land and water species, stocking 3,000 brown trout , clearing 1.5 miles of fire break, performing prescribed burning on adjacent lands, and collecting data on black bears.

* The Wilderness Society provided 672 hours studying the fire ecology of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, 20 hours on shortleaf pine restoration planning, and 651 hours on a variety of trail work.

* The N.C. Forest Service assisted with prescribed burns on the Grandfather Ranger District and conducted burns on adjacent private lands.

* Western North Carolina Alliance provided 39 hours for shortleaf pine restoration project development, 48 hours in vegetation monitoring and 50 hours in invasive species monitoring.

* The Nature Conservancy spent 26 hours assisting with prescribed burns, 40 hours on public outreach, and 97 hours on project development for shortleaf pine restoration.

* Wild South volunteers spent 600 hours removing, by hand, non-native species in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.

* N.C. Department of Transportation provided funding for bridge replacement at Catawba Falls recreation area.

A critical component of the Grandfather Restoration Project is monitoring the effectiveness of restoration management practices. Partners monitor all aspects of the project, from prescribed burning to invasive species treatment effectiveness. Monitoring efforts following prescribed burns show a 90 percent reduction in evergreen shrub cover (hazardous fuels), as well as an increase in wildlife use and diversity. Invasive species monitoring shows 70 percent average effectiveness in killing target plant species during initial treatments.

Additional partners involved in the project include: Foothills Conservancy, Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network, North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Land of Sky Regional Council, National Wild Turkey Federation, Southern Research Station, National Park Service, Appalachian Designs, Western Carolina University, Trout Unlimited, Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Wilson Creek, Forest Stewards, Quality Deer Management Association, and the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.



Jeff
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Day Hikes to be offered at every North Carolina State Park on Jan. 1st

A North Carolina tradition continues on New Year’s Day with opportunities to exercise and reconnect with nature on First Day Hikes at every state park and recreation area, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

In the past three years, hikers in North Carolina have joined rangers and volunteers to walk more than 10,000 miles on state park trails Jan. 1. There will be more than 40 scheduled hikes ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to six-mile treks, many of them offering interpretive programs along the way. All seasonal state park facilities will remain open on the holiday.

“The relatively new tradition of First Day Hikes has been embraced by people in North Carolina as an opportunity to begin the new year with a healthy activity, to shed the stress of the holidays and to reconnect with the outdoors and the rich natural resources that distinguish North Carolina,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “It also serves as a reminder that state parks are always available for exercise, family activities and education for more than 14 million visitors each year.”

Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on its First Day Hike. At Haw River State Park in Guilford County, hikers will preview a new 3.2-mile trail that will open for general use in coming months. Crowders Mountain State Park will make use of a six-mile trail that links park lands in North Carolina and South Carolina. Hikers often see fresh snow at Elk Knob and Mount Mitchell state parks, while Pettigrew State Park is a seasonal home to flocks of wintering waterfowl. And, the Eno River Association will offer long and short hikes as part of a decades-old tradition at Eno River State Park.



Jeff
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Time-lapse Video of Inversion at the Grand Canyon

A rare ground inversion last Thursday filled the Grand Canyon from rim to rim with a sea of clouds.

Ground inversions at Grand Canyon are a sight to behold – clouds fill the canyon with sunny, blue skies above the rims. The topography of Grand Canyon enhances the effect of inversions, creating the dramatic views of a sea of fog and clouds seemingly dense enough to walk out on.

Ground inversions occur when cold air is trapped by a layer of warm air. On clear, cold nights ground temperatures cool rapidly. Air in contact with cold surfaces cools and sinks. At Grand Canyon cold, moist air drops into the canyon forming cascading “waterfalls” of clouds pouring down the rim filling the canyon. Warm air above the rim holds the clouds in place until enough solar radiation is received to warm the surface of the rocks, heating the cold, dense clouds in the canyon and causing them to rise.

Visitors at Grand Canyon during an inversion are challenged to be patient. Waiting out the warming process is well worth the effort; when the clouds start to lift the currents of air swirl and turn on themselves parting like curtains to reveal bursts of color and light, a breathtaking spectacle.

Below is a one minute time-lapse video from the Grand Canyon National Park showing what happened last Thursday:







Jeff
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Chilogate Stream Restoration Underway near Foothills Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that work has begun through the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program to restore the lower 5,000 feet of Chilogate Creek near the Foothills Parkway and the confluence with Chilhowee Lake. The restoration work will return the stream to its original meandering path which will both enhance riparian wetland habitat as well as reducing the risk of undercutting by the current stream alignment along Happy Valley Road and the Ft. Loudon Utility lines.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to restore Chilogate Creek and the associated wetlands,” said Jeff Troutman, Chief of Resource Management and Science. “Restored streambanks and wetland vegetation will help create a buffer that better filters sediments and improves water quality.”

The project will restore the original stream meander in the lower reaches and repair damaged streambanks on the upper reaches. Wetland communities, rare in the park, will be enhanced through this project providing improved habitat for a variety of species as well as improving water quality. The area includes critical wetland habitat for a state listed plant, Tennessee pondweed (Potamogeton tennesseensis), which is found near Chilogate Creek's confluence with Chilowee Lake. The work will also include removing the invasive, non-native Brazilian water milfoil.

The restoration project should be completed by April 2015. For more information about park wetlands, click here.



Jeff
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Smokies Hosts Holiday Homecoming

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Saturday, December 20, 2014. The visitor center will be decorated for the holiday season including an exhibit on Christmas in the mountains. Park staff and volunteers will provide hands-on traditional crafts and activities from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about and experience some of the traditions surrounding an Appalachian Christmas. Hot apple cider and cookies will be served on the porch with a fire in the fireplace. From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., the park will host the monthly acoustic old time jam session.

“Musical expression was and still is often a part of daily life in the southern mountains, and mountain music is strongly tied to the Smokies history and culture,” said Lynda Doucette, Supervisory Park Ranger, Oconaluftee Visitor Center. “This month our music jam will focus on traditional holiday tunes. We would like to invite musicians to play and our visitors to join us in singing traditional Christmas carols and holiday songs as was done in old days.”

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is located on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), two miles north of Cherokee, N.C. For more information, call the visitor center at (828) 497-1904. All activities are free and open to the public. Generous support of this event is provided by the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this Christmas season, please take a few moments to check out our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Master Plan to be Prepared for Mountains-to-Sea State Trail

Ideas to be gathered from partners, stakeholders and the public will be a major component of a master planning process underway to guide completion of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The 1,000-mile trail corridor will ultimately link Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the coast. Nearly two thirds of the cross-state route has been completed as a continuous, off-road trail experience, offering opportunities for hiking, biking and horseback riding through some of North Carolina’s most scenic landscapes. Where the trail has not yet been completed, detours along secondary roads allow ambitious hikers to complete the trek.

A completed master plan will chart a path toward official designation of remaining portions by setting priorities for completing trail sub-sections. It will also unify regional planning efforts, identify potential new partners and funding strategies, and establish guidelines for signs and publicity. The state parks system has hired Planning Communities, LLC to prepare a detailed master plan by late 2015 at a contract price of $120,000 supported through the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

A Planning Communities Website linked from www.ncparks.gov offers a route to get involved in the planning effort, with updates on planned regional stakeholder meetings to be held in early 2015 and a survey to gather planning resources.

“As we move toward completion of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, it’s important to have a guiding document that will focus our efforts for a project that has captured the public’s imagination since it was proposed in the 1970s,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “The master planning process will attract partners and volunteers to the concept, and we’re eager to gather ideas from local governments and citizens.”

A unit of the state parks system, the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail is envisioned as the backbone of a network of regional hiking, paddling and multi-use trails across the state, which could be easily connected to local trail and greenway efforts. Eventually, the trail will link 33 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and offer local access to 40 percent of the state’s population. The state parks system, other state agencies, federal agencies, local governments and volunteers organized by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail have built sections of the trail, representing a partnership that includes hundreds of citizens and every level of government.

For more information on the MST in the Great Smoky Mountains, please click here.



Jeff
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Smokies Announces Alum Cave Trail Restoration Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the next full-scale, Trails Forever restoration will begin on Alum Cave Trail in 2015. The Trails Forever crew will focus restoration efforts on several targeted locations along the 5-mile trail to improve visitor safety and stabilize eroding trail sections. The restoration work will require temporary trail closures throughout the 2-year process.

Alum Cave Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, leading hikers to iconic areas including Arch Rock, Inspiration Point, Alum Cave Bluffs, Mt. Le Conte, and LeConte Lodge. Park rangers respond to numerous accidents along the trail each year, especially along the upper, narrow corridors. The planned work will improve overall trail safety and protect natural resources by repairing historic cable and handrail systems, reinforcing hanging trail sections, reducing trail braiding, and improving drainage to prevent further erosion. There are also several narrow areas where erosion and small landslides have damaged significant sections of the trail, making it difficult to safely travel through the areas during inclement weather or to pass hikers coming from the opposite direction. By restoring these fragile trail sections, the park can best ensure long-term sustainability and protect trailside natural communities from degradation.

Alum Cave Trail and associated parking areas will be closed May 4 through November 19 in 2015, excluding federal holidays, on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. Hikers can still reach Mt. Le Conte, LeConte Lodge, and the Le Conte Shelter by using one of the other five trails to the summit. The Mt. LeConte Lodge and Mt. Le Conte backcountry shelter will remain open and can be accessed from any of these other routes during the Alum Cave Trail closure.

“A weekday closure of Alum Cave Trail is not an easy decision to make, but we feel it is necessary to ensure the continued protection of resources and safe use of the trail for hikers now and into the future,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We hope hikers will take this opportunity to explore another route to Mt. Le Conte, hike some of our other 800 plus miles of trail, or hike Alum Cave Trail on the weekends.”

The Boulevard, Bull Head, Rainbow Falls, Trillium Gap, and Brushy Mountain trails all lead to Mt. Le Conte, but trailhead parking is limited. Carpooling is encouraged. Day hikers should also consider enjoying other trails offering stunning views such as Chimney Tops Trail, Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald, or the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion.

Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Friends of the Smokies. The Friends have donated $500,000 to support the program, in part through the generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation. The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park including the recently restored Forney Ridge Trail and Chimney Tops Trail which opens December 12. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations.

For more information about the Alum Cave Trail closure, please click here to find answers to frequently asked questions and updates on the trail restoration.

For more information about the Alum Cave Trail, please click here.



Jeff
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Smokies Announces 39th Annual Festival of Christmas Past Programs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced yesterday the 39th annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration, scheduled for Saturday, December 13th, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public.

"The Festival of Christmas Past is a program we look forward to every year," said Catlin Worth, Acting North District Resource Education Supervisor. "Celebrating the holiday season with traditional mountain music, storytelling, and crafts allows visitors and staff the unique opportunity to experience and preserve the Christmas traditions of the people who once called this place home"

The festival will include old-time mountain music and traditional harp singing. Demonstrations of traditional domestic skills such as the making of fabric spinning, historic toys and games, rag rugs, apple-head dolls, quilts, and apple cider will be ongoing throughout the day. There will also be several chances to experience these traditions hands-on, with crafts to make and take home.

The popular Christmas Memories Walk will be held again this year at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., to teach visitors about the spirit of the season in these mountains during the 1880s through the 1930s.

The full schedule of events for the day includes:

·9:30 a.m. - "Old-fashioned Harp Singing" led by Bruce Wheeler, Paul Clabo and Martha Graham

·11:00 a.m.–Old Time Music with Boogertown Gap Band

·12:00 p.m. -"Stories from the Past" presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society

·1:00 p.m. –Stories of old-time Christmas in Appalachia with Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

·2:00 p.m. –Bill Proffitt and South of the River Boys preform

·3:00 p.m. –Old Time Music with Lost Mill String Band

11:00 a.m. -12:30 pm and 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. - Christmas Memories Walk - Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays in the early days of the 1880s to the 1930s.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this Christmas season, please take a few moments to check out our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Superintendent Named For Great Smoky Mountains National Park

National Park Service Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin has named Cassius Cash, a native of Memphis, TN, as the new superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cash, currently superintendent for Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site, will assume his new post in February.

"We are excited to have Cassius joining our Southeast Region leadership team," Austin said. "He has a great reputation as a leader and has proven his ability to effectively work with partners, stakeholders and local communities. We know that he will be an excellent steward of the Smokies, one of the crown jewels of the Southeast Region."

"Cash is an outstanding addition to the senior executive leadership at the National Park Service," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "He brings a depth of land management experience with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, and his commitment to engaging local communities will support the great work that is happening at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park."

"I wholeheartedly look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with and learning from a group of dedicated employees at the park who have the privilege of and responsibility for preserving and protecting some of the most precious natural and cultural resources in the country," Cash said. "I also look forward to working with local communities, friends groups, and tribal communities on how the National Park Service can build on innovative ideas to create the next generation of stewards and supporters for this park. The timing for this is excellent because the park service will enter its second century of service to the nation when it observes its Centennial in 2016."

Cash has served as superintendent at the Boston parks since 2010.While there, he worked with the City of Boston to open a new visitor center in historic Faneuil Hall. That facility now welcomes more than 5 million visitors a year. Cash also worked with several park partners to secure $4 million to reopen the African Meeting House, the oldest black church still in its original location in the country.

Cash began his federal career in 1991with the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State. He went on to work with that agency for 18 years in various leadership positions.

He served as an administrative officer in Nebraska, district ranger in Georgia, and a civil rights officer in Mississippi. Cash was the deputy forest supervisor at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon before transferring to Boston. Earlier this year, Cash served as the deputy regional director and chief of staff in the Northeast Regional Office.

Cash holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and later attended Oregon State University to study wildlife management.

Cash, his wife, Vonda and their youngest daughter plan to reside in the Gatlinburg area. Their oldest daughter is attending school in Colorado.



Jeff
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Smokies Receives Annual Poinsettia for Rescue 40 Years Ago

Forty years ago, on December 3, 1974, park rangers from Great Smoky Mountains National Park rescued 15-year old Eric Johnson and a companion who had been trapped deep in the park's backcountry by a chest-deep snow storm. Yesterday, Eric's mother traveled from Johnson City to park headquarters in Gatlinburg to thank the park rangers for saving her son's life. A trip she has made every December 3rd since 1974.

Each December Mrs. Wanneta Johnson selects the biggest, finest poinsettia she can find in Johnson City and delivers it to park headquarters and thanks everyone she meets. This year Eric joined his mother as she met with Acting Superintendent Clayton Jordan and several members of the park staff including current members of the park's search and rescue team, none of whom were working at the Smokies in 1974. Over the past four decades hundreds of park rangers have come and gone, but Mrs. Johnson treats each one as if he or she had a hand in saving Eric's life.

When asked why Mrs. Johnson comes back to the park every year, she responded, "How could I not!" In 1974, several rangers attempted to search for the boys on foot and by ATV, but made little progress because of conditions. They were finally able to locate the boys at Tricorner Knob Shelter from a helicopter.

Once the boys were found a larger U.S. Army helicopter was brought in to hoist the boys out of the backcountry. Eric Johnson and his friend, Randy Laws, had been held up at the backcountry shelter for three days without adequate food, water or equipment. Both young men suffered from dehydration and exposure and Eric had some frostbite, but otherwise they were in good condition.

Acting Superintendent Clayton Jordan, the seventh superintendent to accept Mrs. Johnson's gift said, "It is humbling for us on the park staff to be honored every year by Mrs. Johnson's visit back to the Smokies. Her recognition means a great deal to our rangers who are sometimes tasked with going out in rough weather to come to the aid of visitors like Eric and his family."



Jeff
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Improvised Explosive Device Found In Redwood National and State Parks

A Redwood National and State Parks maintenance employee unknowingly collected an improvised explosive device (IED) at an illegal dump site on state park lands on the morning of Monday, December 1st, according to the NPS Morning Report.

The device was transported to the park’s Northern Operations Center, where it was quickly identified as an IED. Rangers were notified, responded and immediately evacuated employees from the facility. The entire operations center, surrounding area, and entrance road were also secured.

Rangers then coordinated with personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Humboldt County Bomb Squad, Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office, NPS Fire, Crescent City Fire and Del Norte Ambulance to aid in scene containment and ensure safety. The Humboldt County Bomb Squad employed a mobile robot to render the device safe.

Due to the remote location of the operations center, there was no direct threat to public safety and the area was reopened for normal operations by 6 p.m. Rangers are working with ATF agents and the incident is under active investigation.

This report comes just one month after an improvised explosive device was found near a trail in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia. An FBI investigation continues into that incident as well.



Jeff
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Smokies To Host Meetings On Firewood Pests

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are hosting public meetings to provide information about firewood pests and forest threats. Meetings will be held on Monday, December 8 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center Administrative Building near Cherokee, NC and on Tuesday, December 9 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.at the Sugarlands Visitor Center Training Room near Gatlinburg, TN.

Non-native, tree-killing insects and diseases can unknowingly be introduced through firewood transported from infested areas. A variety of destructive pests lay eggs or stowaway in firewood. These insects from Asia and Europe have the potential to devastate over 30 species of hardwood trees native to the park. Movement of untreated firewood has been implicated in the spread of gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, thousand canker disease, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex woodwasp, golden spotted oak borer, and other native and non-native insect and disease complexes. New infestations threaten our forests with widespread tree mortality that could devastate wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and scenic views. The use of firewood that has been heat treated eliminates the threat posed by these pests through the movement and use of wood in campfires.

Park officials will present information at the meetings about forest pest threats, certified heat-treated wood availability, and how the park proposes to address the threat through a new firewood regulation change. The public will have an opportunity to visit staffed information stations, ask questions, and provide comments. Park rangers have been working over the past year with numerous partners representing federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and universities to mitigate the risks associated with movement of firewood including a public education campaign. The working team developed an informational handout that was provided to all Smokies campers throughout the summer along with providing information through public programs and regionally placed billboards. The team also identified and mapped over 80 locations near the park that provide heat-treated firewood.

The park is proposing to reduce the threat of forest pests by changing park regulations to allow only heat-treated firewood to be brought into the park. If the proposal is adopted, beginning in March 2015, only firewood that is bundled and displays a certification stamp by the USDA or a state department of agriculture will be allowed for use in park campgrounds. Heat-treated wood will be available to purchase from concessioners in many of the campgrounds as well as from private businesses in the communities around the park. In addition, visitors may still collect dead and down wood in the park for campfires.

National parks throughout the Appalachian region have taken action to limit the spread of insect pests in firewood including, in many cases, the banning of imported firewood. For the past three years, the Smokies has prohibited the importation of firewood from areas quarantined by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in accordance with federal law. Current park regulations prohibit the importation of wood and wood products from states (or specific counties in states) quarantined for insects such as emerald ash borer or tree diseases such as thousand canker disease.

A final decision on adopting the new regulation is expected by the end of the year. The public may continue to submit comments by: mail at 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738; e-mail; or comment cards available at visitor centers and campgrounds.

For more information about firewood and forest and insect pests in the park, please visit the park website.



Jeff
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