Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Greenbrier Barn Party Tops $2 Million for National Park in 20th Year

Friends of the Smokies hosted more than 600 guests at the 20th annual Greenbrier Barn Party on Friday, May 11th. The event raised more than $211,000 this year in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and featured live music from The Chillbillies and a silent auction.

The Greenbrier Barn Party is co-hosted by Coach Phillip & Vicky Fulmer, Jake and Kat Ogle, along with Jim Ogle and Cheryl Houston. Special guests in attendance included University of Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt, and Steve Caldwell and Dan Brooks, coaches of the 1998 national championship team.

Over its 20 year history, the Greenbrier Barn Party has raised more than $2 million, helping to fund critical projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park including treating hemlock trees, construction of the Greenbrier Picnic Pavilion and hiking trail reconstruction. Funds this year will also help Friends of the Smokies meet its $1.25 million fundraising goal to upgrade the park’s emergency radio communications system, a 25th anniversary signature project.

“For the 20th anniversary of this event to have a record-breaking year is a testament to our communities’ dedication to the national park,” said Jim Hart, Friends of the Smokies president. “We are so thankful for the generous support of our members and sponsors who are helping ensure the park’s preservation.”

The Greenbrier Barn Party is held in Pittman Center, TN at the barn of Jim Ogle, a former Friends of the Smokies board member. The event is presented by Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Sugarland Cellars, and is sponsored by Anakeesta, Barnes Insurance Agency, Bearskin Lodge, Blount Partnership, Charles Blalock & Sons, Citadel Construction, Citizens National Bank, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, Harper Bros. General Merchandise Store, Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Home Federal Bank, Hospitality Solutions, IHOP, The Island in Pigeon Forge, Johnson Family of Restaurants, KaTom Restaurant Supply, Parkside Cabin Rentals, Phillips and Jordan, Riverside Tower, Robert G. Campbell and Associates, Sevier County Bank, SmartBank, Stowers Machinery, and Trotter De Foe Architects.

Photos from Friday’s event and more information can be found at


Friday, May 11, 2018

Smokies Invites Public Comment on Elkmont Wastewater Treatment Plant Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to comment through May 31 on a draft environmental assessment (EA) for proposed upgrades to the Elkmont Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Sevier County, Tennessee. The plant serves the Elkmont Developed Area, which includes Elkmont Campground and other facilities nearby.

Treated effluent from the plant is currently discharged to the Little River downstream of the campground as authorized by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit number TN0022349 issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The purpose of the proposal is to provide a modern, efficient, and sustainable wastewater treatment system for the Elkmont Developed Area. The action is needed because the existing WWTP, which was originally built in 1959 and modified in 1969 and 2008, has exceeded its expected service life. The EA evaluates three alternatives:

Alternative A – The No Action Alternative provides a basis for comparing environmental impacts of the action alternatives.

Alternative B – Upgrade WWTP and continue discharging to the Little River.

Alternative C (Preferred Alternative) – Upgrade WWTP and install a land-based, subsurface effluent dispersal system.

Prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the EA assess the alternatives and their impacts on the environment. The EA also serves to integrate and coordinate compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. The following impact topics are analyzed in detail: surface water, floodplains, aquatic life, vegetation, wildlife, wilderness, park operations, and archeology.

The public is encouraged to participate in the planning process by reviewing and providing comments on the Draft EA. Park Staff invite the public to comment on the proposed project using the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website and following the link titled “Elkmont Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade” at or by US Mail to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ATTN: Environmental Planning and Compliance, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Smokies Visitors Spend $923 million in Gateway Communities

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 11,338,893 visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2017 spent $922,947,100 in communities near the park. That spending supported 13,942 jobs in the local area. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, with every dollar invested by American taxpayers in the National Park Service returning $10 to the economy.

“We are glad to work alongside our business communities in helping create lifelong memories and traditions that bring people to our area year after year,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “While our gateway communities benefit from visitor spending, they also provide a critical role in shaping the overall impression of a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows a $1.2 billion cumulative economic benefit to communities within 60 miles of the Smokies. According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending near the Smokies was for lodging and camping (35 percent) followed by food and beverages (24 percent), gas and oil (11 percent), local transportation (11 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent), and recreation industries (9 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage:

The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by over 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park across the nation. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; over 255,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion. According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging and camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. To learn more about national parks in North Carolina or Tennessee and how the National Park Service works with North Carolina and Tennessee communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to or