Displaying items by tag: great smoky mountains
GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the Walker Sisters Cabin is once again open to the public. The park closed the two-story cabin in late 2021 while the park’s Forever Places crew addressed safety concerns and completed renovations. The crew, a team of skilled carpenters and masons, replaced the roof and portions of the wall timbers, stabilized the foundation, added new floorboards, and restored the fireplace.
“We are proud of the expert work our dedicated Forever Places team did to restore the cabin,” said Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski. “And we are grateful to the Friends of the Smokies for their generous support to help us preserve such an iconic piece of Smokies history.”
The Friends of the Smokies, the park’s philanthropic partner, provided funding for this critical work as part of the Forever Places campaign. Forever Places protects and preserves the historical resources in the park by hiring skilled preservation crew members and supplying materials and tools.
Visitors may reach the Walker Sisters Cabin by hiking about 1.5 miles along the Little Brier Gap Trail located near the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. The cabin dates to the 1800s and the Walker sisters lived there until 1964.
— National Park Service
GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials unveiled two new waysides at Mingus Mill on May 23 as part of the larger African American Experiences in the Smokies project.
“The new signs and the African American Experiences in the Smokies project are so important to tell the untold stories of Black people in the region,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.
Vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and poet Eric Mingus performed a new piece of music that speaks to and of Mingus Mill, its location, and the people who lived there, including his ancestors. A Santa Fe-based musician, Eric has recently re-connected with his family’s story that is rooted in the park through the African American Experiences in the Smokies project. Eric is descended from Daniel Mingus, a formerly enslaved carpenter, and Clarinda Mingus, the daughter of Daniel’s enslaver.
Hellbender Press previously reported on the Smokies project.
One of the new waysides tells the story of the nearby Enloe Slave Cemetery, where several African Americans are interred. The other wayside tells the story of Eric’s father, legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus Jr., and his family.
The African American Experiences in the Smokies project is supported by the Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains Association, which help fund research of the historic presence and influence of African Americans in the southern Appalachian Mountains from the 1540s through today.
— National Park Service
GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other federal officials completed a management plan to formally regulate aircraft tours over the park.
Don’t expect much to change in the skies over the park: The plan allows 946 air tours a year by select helicopter operators, unchanged from the average number of annual flights recorded from 2017 to 2019. Flights may only operate from two hours after daybreak to two hours before sundown.
“The plan establishes measures to protect park resources including natural and cultural resources, preservation of wilderness character, and visitor experience,” according to Smokies officials. Flights will be restricted to six routes over the park, and must maintain an elevation above 2,700 feet of the highest terrain. Cades Cove is off limits, as are several historical sites, including the Walker Sisters Cabin.
Air tours, often to the dismay of many hikers and others, have occurred over the park for most of its history, but no formal flight guidelines were in place.
“We appreciate the tireless work that went into the development of the Smokies air tour management plan,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The plan incorporates several improvements that allow continued air tour activity, while at the same time better protecting the wilderness character of the backcountry, wildlife populations, natural soundscapes, and the visitor experience in historic areas like Cades Cove.”
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian members provided notable input into the development of the plan, which will go into effect in 90 days from Dec.3.
Hellbender Press previously reported on development of the Smokies aircraft management plan.
Smokies parking fees will generate $7 million in revenue for park infrastructure
GATLINBURG — Getting outside just got more expensive.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced Monday the park would proceed with plans for a $5/per day parking pass required of all cars staying in one spot for more than 15 minutes.
Weekly passes will be $15, and annual passes will be available for $40, according to a release from the park service. Fees will also increase $3 for backcountry and campground permits, meaning campers and backpackers will have to fork over $8 a night.
CADES COVE — Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Thursday plans to officially reopen Parson Branch Road, first cut through the ridges around Cades Cove 180 years ago.
The narrow, 8-mile one-way mountain road out of Cades Cove to U.S. 129 has been closed since 2016 following washouts that were compounded by a steady diet of collapsing diseased and dead hemlocks. A ceremony is set for Thursday morning at the beginning of the road in Caves Cove.
The road was closed because of the tree hazards and damage to the road surface. The hemlocks succumbed to the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic insect that has wreaked havoc on hemlock stands and their accompanying ecosystems.
Invasive insects are among the vanguard of noticeable climate changes in America’s most-visited national park
GATLINBURG — Ants scurry beneath the carpet of last year’s leaves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The native ants are busy spreading the seeds of violets and bloodroot, preparing a new carpet of spring wildflowers to draw thousands of visitors.
But the local insects aren’t alone under there. They have become prey to venomous Asian needle ants that also prowl the leaf litter.
These invaders dine on termites, other ants and insects, while stealing habitat from them. Unlike invasive fire ants, needle ants can live in pristine forests and build large colonies with hundreds of queens. But like fire ants, needle ants have a painful sting that can trigger an allergic reaction.
Climate change is expected to make it easier for invasive species like needle ants to upset the delicate balance of this temperate rainforest full of rare plants and animals. That’s just one example.
- great smoky mountains
- climate change appalachia
- southern appalachian climate change
- great smoky mountains national park climate change
- needle ant
- are ants affected by climate change
- daniel malagon
- ana barro
- jason fridley
- paul super
- climate precipitation change
- smokies science
- national ecological observatory network
- invasive species
- change in precipitation
- importance of cloud to water balance highelevation ecosystem
- climate change research
- sampling plot
The western end of Great Smoky Mountains National Park as seen from Foothills Parkway. Thomas Fraser/Hellbender Press
Four visitors have disappeared without a trace from the Great Smoky Mountains in the last 50 years. Where did they go?
In a lateral move from late-night doom-scrolling, I’ve grown obsessed with reading about people who have gone missing in national parks. The National Park Service website currently lists 28 “cold cases” ranging from unsolved murders and suspected suicides to just ... gone. No body, nary a footprint or broken branch, no lingering scent for search dogs. Just poof. The silhouette of a life vanishing into mist.
I lie awake at 2, 3, 4 o’clock, hypnotized by the white glow of my phone, trawling abandoned blogs and conspiratorial subreddits for clues. I turn their disappearances over and over in my mind like a piece of quartz, glassy yet opaque, a fogged-up window I can’t quite see through.
Eight of these cold cases are from Yosemite, five are from the Grand Canyon, two are from Shenandoah Valley, and there’s one apiece from Mesa Verde, Crater Lake, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain and Chiricahua National Monument. Another four are from the Great Smoky Mountains, the wild and tangled backdrop of my east Tennessee home.
I’ve ventured furthest down the rabbit holes of the ones gone missing from the Smokies. Having spent a lot of time in the Park I’m familiar with the trails from which they disappeared. I’ve hiked them myself, one in an oblivious single-file search party of so many other Park visitors. It’s a strange feeling to know that you’ve literally walked along a path which, for someone else, led to … where did it lead?
Foothills Land Conservancy preserves land and multiple habitats across seven states
Foothills Land Conservancy rang in the new year with the preservation of 250 undeveloped acres along the Little Pigeon River in a rapidly growing area of Sevier County in East Tennessee.
The deal was finalized in late 2020 — a fitting end to the Blount County conservancy’s 35th year.
Foothills Land Conservancy has protected about 135,000 acres in seven states, including 95,000 acres in East Tennessee, since its inception in 1985. For comparison’s sake, that’s nearly a third of the protected land that encompass the 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of that land has been acquired since 2006, when former state Sen. Bill Clabough became executive director.
“We’ve been really growing and expanding,” Clabough said late last year from the conservancy headquarters on the century-old Harris family farm in Rockford.
The farm itself is under a conservation easement, one of several ways the conservancy preserves and protects natural and agricultural lands.
“When you do good work you don’t have to do a lot of advertising,” said Clabough, 69, a likable former country store owner and Wildwood native whose political public service came to an end in 2005 when the moderate Republican incumbent was defeated by a firebrand conservative in the Senate GOP primary.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Clabough said of his primary defeat.