Friday, June 28, 2019

Park and DLiA Host Smokies Species Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the non-profit partner Discover Life in America (DLiA) are celebrating the diversity of life in the park by hosting “Smokies Species Day” at Sugarlands Visitor Center on Saturday, June 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Attendees can learn about fungi, slime molds, beetles, moths, butterflies, and other creatures of the Smokies at this free, family-friendly event!

The event will be held outdoors on the patio area in front of the visitor center providing opportunities for people to tour the pollinator garden and participate in a hands-on citizen science program called Species SnapIt & MapIt which allows everyone to help gather scientific data about species encountered in the park. Researchers will also share how the ecosystem in fire-affected areas are recovering from the 2016 wildfires.

Smokies Species Day is centered on the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), a partnership between the park and DLiA, which has been taking place in the park for more than 20 years. The ATBI is a concerted effort to discover and understand all the species inhabiting the 522,000-acre park habitat, including plants, fungi, birds, amphibians, insects, bacteria, and more. Over the life of the ATBI, there have been a variety of organisms discovered that are new records for the park, as well as over 1,000 species that are new to science.

This event and research efforts are partially supported by Friends of the Smokies. For more information about DLiA, please visit www.dlia.org.



Jeff
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Trillium Gap Trail Temporarily Closed Due to Trail Conditions

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Trillium Gap Trail will be temporarily closed through Thursday, July 11, due to hazardous trail conditions. The area received heavy rainfall over the last couple of weeks causing extremely slippery, muddy conditions on the trail surface undergoing rehabilitation.

“The safety of our visitors and staff is our highest priority,” said Park Trails and Roads Facility Manager Tobias Miller. “Dense clay soils, disturbed during the recent trail rehabilitation construction process, have become very muddy and slippery with the frequent rains and heavy visitor use on the weekends.”

Park trail crews will continue to diligently work on these sections during the closure to make needed repairs. The full closure will allow time for the trail tread to set up and harden for use. Weather depending, the trail is expected to reopen after July 11 for weekend use each week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and on federal holidays through November 15. The trail and associated parking lot along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will continue to be closed during this time period on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly.

This rehabilitation project started on May 13 as part of the park’s Trails Forever program. The trail crew, youth corps, and volunteers have made excellent progress along the trail this season. At this time, this additional stabilization work is not expected to affect the overall timeline for the 2-year project.

The Trillium Gap Trail is one of the busiest trails in the park as it provides access to the popular Grotto Falls and the summit of Mt. Le Conte. There is no access to Grotto Falls during the trail closures. Hikers can still reach Mt. Le Conte, LeConte Lodge, and the Le Conte Shelter by using one of the other four trails to the summit including the recently restored Rainbow Falls Trail and Alum Cave Trail.

Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Friends of the Smokies. The Friends have donated over $1,500,000 to support the program, in part through the generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation. The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for highly skilled trail crew members to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park including Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Forney Ridge trails. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers and interns to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations.

Volunteer work days for the Trails Forever program are held every Wednesday, May through August. Prior registration is required. Please contact Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949 or adam_monroe@nps.gov for more details and to register.



Jeff
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Park Hosts “Smokies Service Days”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to participate in “Smokies Service Days” beginning June 29 to help complete much-needed work across the park. Park staff will lead these single-day volunteer opportunities that are ideal for people of all ages interested in learning more about the park through hands-on service.

Individuals, families, and groups are invited to sign up for any of the scheduled service projects that interest them including unique opportunities to help care for park campgrounds, native plant gardens, and a variety of natural and cultural resources. The program is ideal for those seeking to fulfill community service requirements including high school and college students, scout groups, and civic organizations. Volunteer projects will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Each project will be followed by an optional enrichment adventure to immerse participants in the abundant natural and cultural resources of the park.

Tools and safety gear, including gloves and high visibility safety vests, will be provided by park staff. Participants are required to wear closed-toe shoes and should bring water and snacks. Volunteers planning to stay for the optional enrichment activity must also bring a sack lunch.

Those interested in volunteering must contact Project Coordinator, Andrew Mentrup, at 865-436-1278 or andrew_mentrup@partner.nps.gov, prior to the scheduled event date to register. Space may be limited.

Current service opportunities include:

June 29: Cosby Campground Clean-Up
July 13: Chimneys Picnic Area Clean-Up
July 27: Elkmont Campground Clean-Up
August 17: Cosby Horse Trail: Clean-Up
September 14: Oconaluftee Visitor Center Flower Bed Maintenance
September 21: Sugarlands Visitor Center Non-Native Honeysuckle Removal
October 5: Elkmont’s Daisy Town Clean-Up



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, June 17, 2019

Shenandoah National Park Announces Construction Begins on a New Parking Lot for Old Rag Mountain Area Trails

Shenandoah National Park recently announced the groundbreaking of a new parking lot for the Old Rag Mountain and Nicholson Hollow area trails. The new parking lot is located near the existing parking lot on Route 600 in Madison County.

A contractor for the national park service has begun mobilizing to the site, with work beginning in earnest on June 10, 2019. The construction is anticipated to take several months to accomplish. Construction activity shouldn't interfere with hikers going to and from the area trails, however, there will be an increase in noise and truck traffic on Route 600 during the construction period.

When the new parking lot is completed, it will become Shenandoah National Park’s primary parking lot for visitors climbing Old Rag Mountain. A new connector trail built by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) will connect the new parking lot with the Ridge Trail. The park appreciates everyone's patience during this construction period and looks forward to the positive changes that will come when the new parking lot opens.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, June 16, 2019

American Trails Video: Building Trail Culture

American Trails recently published the presentation (below), which was given by Amy Camp during this years' International Trails Symposium. Ms. Camp's presentation discussed "Building Trail Culture" in communities across America. As trails in our national parks and forests become increasingly overcrowded (which I discussed in detail in my book), utilization of local trails will become more important as hiking participation rates continue to grow. Here's a synopsis of the presentation:
Trail communities around North America have come to appreciate (and clamor for) the economic benefits of trails. In fact, a model for community development—“trail towns”—has emerged to aid struggling communities in leveraging their trails. But we’ve got it mostly wrong. While economic gain contributes to community vitality, too heavy of a focus on any one trail benefit lacks balance…and heart. Those places that value trails simply for the dollars brought into town miss out on the “trail magic” that can touch communities. If we flip our focus from visitor transactions to truly engaging both visitors and locals, culture shift is possible. One concrete way of doing so is through programming immersive, memorable, joyful trail experiences. This talk will share programming examples and make a case for how these connections can transform communities from a culture of indifference to a culture of “yes,” of hospitality, of inclusion, and stewardship.

Building Trail Culture-Amy Camp from American Trails on Vimeo.




Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Celebrating Cosby: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to attend “Celebrating Cosby: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” community programs on Fridays beginning June 14 through August 2 at the Cosby Campground Amphitheater. The programs honor the rich cultural and natural history of the Cosby area through music, storytelling, and history walks.

“These programs offer incredible opportunities for visitors to discover Cosby by experiencing it firsthand with the people who live and work here,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are grateful to our friends from the local community who are leading these unique experiences.”

Programs feature local musicians, storytellers, craftsmen, and former residents who once lived in the park. Visitors are invited to step back in time during these summer programs to experience the music and mountain ways of people living in the Cosby area both then and now.

“We are so happy that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bringing this program to our Cosby Campground,” said Cocke Country Partnership Tourist Director, Linda Lewanski. “We all know how talented our Cocke County folks are and we are delighted to be able to showcase them.”

All programs will be held at the Cosby Campground Amphitheater unless otherwise specified. In the event of rain, “Celebrating Cosby” programs will move to the covered picnic pavilion adjacent to Cosby Campground. Programs will be held rain or shine. Visitors are welcome to find seating in the amphitheater or bring their own chairs or blankets.

To check out the full schedule of events, please click here.

Planning a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains this summer? Please help support HikingintheSmokys.com by supporting the sponsors on our Accommodations page. Our hiking website provides links to a wide variety of overnight options - from cozy cabins to luxurious resorts.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Smokies Hosts Women’s Work Festival

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, June 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The festival honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia. Park staff and volunteers will showcase mountain lifeways and customs that women practiced to care for their families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

As part of the celebration, demonstrations among the historic buildings will include hearth cooking, soap making, cornshuck crafts, and use of plants for home remedies. Exhibits of artifacts and historic photographs will also provide a glimpse into the many and varied roles of rural women. The Davis-Queen house will be open for visitors to walk through with an audio exhibit featuring the last child born in the house.

In addition to the Women’s Work Festival activities, visitors will also be treated to a music jam session on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Music jam sessions are held every first and third Saturday of the month from May through October on the porch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free to the public. The Mountain Farm Museum is located on Newfound Gap Road adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For additional information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.

Planning a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains this summer? Please help support HikingintheSmokys.com by supporting the sponsors on our Accommodations page. Our hiking website provides links to a wide variety of overnight options - from cozy cabins to luxurious resorts.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, June 7, 2019

U.S. Forest Service issues warning about Black Bears in Panthertown

Visitors to Panthertown on the Nantahala National Forest are asked to take precautions to avoid bears after recent reports of increased encounters.

No injuries have been reported. Encounters include bears stealing packs and riffling through camping supplies and gear. The bears will often stay in the area of the incident for multiple hours.

This time of the year black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips.

According to District Ranger Mike Wilkins, "Bears become used to people due to the close proximity of residential neighborhoods and the regular use of the same camping spots. Once there is more natural food available across the forest the bears should be less aggressive."

While black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.

To avoid bear attacks, experts recommend the following:

* Keep your dog on a leash in areas where bears are reported.
* If you notice a bear nearby, pack up your food and trash immediately and vacate the area as soon as possible.
* If a bear approaches, move away slowly; do not run. Get into a vehicle or a secure building.
* If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, by banging pans together, or throwing rocks and sticks at it.

If you are attacked by a black bear, try to fight back using any object available. Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms. Playing dead is not appropriate.

Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by practicing these additional safety tips:

* Do not store food in tents.
* Properly store food and scented items like toothpaste by using a bear-proof container.
* Clean up food or garbage around fire rings, grills, or other areas of your campsite.
* Do not leave food unattended.
* Never run away from a bear-back away slowly and make lots of noise.

A reminder to forest visitors that bear canisters are required in the Shining Rock Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest. Since this requirement has been in place the number of successful black bear attempts to getting campers food has significantly decreased. Remember to be bear aware.

For more tips, visit http://go.usa.gov/czWbW or go to www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and click on "Learn about Bear Safety"



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tennessee State Parks Named Finalist for National Gold Medal Award

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association(NRPA), is pleased to announce Tennessee State Parks as a finalist for the 2019 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Musco Lighting, LLC has been a proud sponsor of the Gold Medal Awards program for over 10 years.

“We are honored to be among the best state park systems in the nation,” said David Salyers, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Our parks provide the ultimate visitor experience and are an asset to Tennessee. We strive to provide rich interpretive programs and outdoor adventures while protecting ecologically significant areas, all with the backdrop of unparalleled natural beauty. This recognition is for every Tennessean who appreciates and benefits from our parks system.”

Tennessee State Parks is one of only two state park systems in the nation to receive accreditation through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). In recent years, the state has also acquired significant acres for protection. All park rangers are certified interpretive guides, and every park has expanded sustainability practices – including adding more recycling bins and composting food waste. Tennessee State Parks continues to celebrate record visitation, and is one of only seven state parks systems that do not charge an admission fee.

Tennessee State Parks joins three other finalists in the state parks category: Florida State Parks, Maryland Park Service and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials. A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials.

This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 24–26, 2019.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.nrpa.org/goldmedal or www.aapra.org.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, June 3, 2019

Tourism to Blue Ridge Parkway creates $1 Billion in Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that in 2018, 14.7 million park visitors spent an estimated $1.1 billion in local gateway regions while visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway. These expenditures supported 15.9 thousand jobs in the local region and had a cumulative benefit of $1.3 billion in local gateway economies surrounding Blue Ridge Parkway.

“Much of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s history relates back to its important role as an economic engine for this region,” said J.D. Lee, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent. “The 2018 visitor spending impacts remind us all of the important relationship between this park and our neighboring communities. The Blue Ridge experience is not complete without some time spent in one or more of the many towns and cities near the Parkway.”

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 $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy too, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. Lodging expenses account for the largest share of national visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores. Visitor spending on lodging also supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore 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: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in North Carolina or Virginia and how the National Park Service works with local communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/nc or www.nps.gov/va.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking