The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
Tuesday, 07 November 2023 02:21

Great Smoky Mountains National Park implements backcountry fire restrictions


GATLINBURG — Due to dry conditions and the increased risk for wildfires, the National Park Service (NPS) is temporarily banning backcountry campfires in Great Smoky Mountains National Park effective immediately. The fire restriction will be in effect until further notice. 

“We are experiencing dry conditions throughout the park, in both North Carolina and Tennessee,” said Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski. “With dry conditions persisting over the next week, it is imperative that we reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.” 

The fire restriction only applies to campers using the park’s 100 backcountry sites and shelters. It does not affect campers at the park’s front country (developed) campgrounds or picnickers using fire grills at picnic areas. Fires in developed areas must always be confined to designated fire rings and grills. The NPS asks front country campers to reduce the risk of wildfires by extinguishing fires completely until ashes are cool to the touch. Backpackers may use stoves with compressed gas canisters.   

The NPS is working with multiple area agencies in response to current and predicted weather and fuel conditions. Visitors should use extra caution recreating on public lands including national parks and national forests in North Carolina and Tennessee when fire danger is increased.