Smokies ranger earns national award

A National Park Service ranger who has focused on the scientific and educational significance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for more than 20 years earned national praise in this year’s Public Lands Alliance awards ceremony, held Feb. 27 in Denver, Colorado.

Susan Sachs, education branch chief for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, received the 2019 PLA Agency Leadership Award for cultivating and leading partnerships, the result of a nomination from the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

‘Leader of leaders’: New Smokies chief ranger brings impressive career to America’s most visited park

After decades roving the backcountry of some of the largest parks in the Western United States, Lisa Hendy is returning to her home state of Tennessee to serve as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s first female chief ranger. 

At least, that’s the headline picked up by news outlets across the country, and it’s true. Hendy will start her new job April 8, and it will be the first time a woman has served that role in the Smokies. But to Hendy, it’s not about gender. It’s about her ability to do the job, and do it well. 

National Park visits up despite shutdown

Despite a government shutdown that lasted most of the month, visitation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was markedly higher this January than in the same month last year. 

First female chief ranger hired in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will have its first female chief ranger following the hire of Lisa Hendy, who currently serves as chief ranger at Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Smokies records highest-ever visitation in 2018

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park set a new visitation record for 2018, welcoming 11.4 million visitors to its 816 square miles last year.

Meth, not bear attack, caused death in park, autopsy says

An autopsy recently completed on a man who died in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last September determined that 30-year-old William Lee Hill Jr., of Louisville, Tennessee, died from an accidental methamphetamine overdose — not from a bear attack. 

Back to work: Shutdown ends, but effects likely to linger through 2019 season

After 35 days of furlough, National Park Service staff are back to work at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and more than 400 other National Park Service units nationwide. 

“On behalf of the employees of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to our partners and communities for their unwavering support over the last five weeks,” said Smokies Superintendent Cassius Cash in a press release. “In addition to the monetary support offered by our partners to provide basic visitor services, we were moved by the number of people and organizations who stepped up to organize litter pickups and the outpouring of generosity expressed to our employees through meals and gift cards.”

Smokies closed for winter weather

Normal operations at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park resumed for the first time since Dec. 22 on Saturday, Jan. 26, but due to inclement weather park facilities are closed once more.

Donation will open Smokies visitor centers for holiday weekend

Despite the ongoing government shutdown, two visitor centers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be open over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend thanks to a donation from Friends of the Smokies. Appropriations from federal recreation fees are also keeping a third visitor center, as well as a variety of restroom facilities, open during the shutdown.

Park to restore accessibility, visitor services

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced that recently closed areas of the park were once again accessible to visitors beginning Sunday, Jan. 13. Some basic visitor services, including campgrounds and restrooms, reopened using revenue generated by recreation fees. 

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