Honoring the past, welcoming the future

High atop a mountain overlooking Haywood County, Annie Haslam Colquitt sits across a dining room table at The Swag. A rainstorm has just swept through, with a cold breeze floating through the open front door. She gazes around, her eyes slowly drifting out the windows onto the deep woods of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park bordering the property. 

The wildest show: Synchronous fireflies display untamed beauty in the Smokies

I entered the lottery on a whim, figuring that, like 90 percent of my fellow entrants, I’d end up with nothing but a polite “thank you for entering” and an invitation to try again next year. I was stunned, frankly, to receive an email that instead began with the word “congratulations” and an invitation to start dreaming about a front-row seat to one of the region’s most spectacular natural phenomena. 

That would be the flashing of the synchronous fireflies, Photinus carolinus. 

Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

In popular culture mules get a bad rap, cast as stubborn, ornery and even mischievous. 

But Danny Gibson, animal packer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spends more time with mules than just about anybody around, and he’s quick to jump to their defense. 

This must be the place: Never take those mountains for granted

Standing in the midst of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one can’t help but feel refreshed, a return to the core of your inner being amid the cosmos. And that sentiment is something felt in any of the innumerable national parks dotting our nation.

Worth protecting: Conservation organizations partner to preserve Parkway lands

Born in the upstairs of the Post Office building his mom ran in Crabtree, Robert Williams, now 87, has always called Haywood County home. 

His dad was in the cattle business, and when the family moved to Canton during Williams’ childhood, chores such as feeding cattle, splitting wood and tending the fire kept Williams busy. But his grandfather William Silver’s 1,800-acre tract in the Plott Balsams, while also technically a workplace, provided a respite from the busyness of day-to-day life. Silver and his son — Williams’ uncle — ranged cattle up there, and in the summers Williams would join them. 

Breaking the backlog: Deferred maintenance in the billions for national parks

Drawing more than 300 million visitors each year, the National Park Service is both a reservoir of natural beauty and an economic anchor for the communities surrounding its lands — and many of those communities are now banding together to demand that Congress address the parks’ $11.3 billion maintenance backlog.

“To know what this means to us — the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — and for us to have to ask them for some sustainable revenue to keep these parks going, it’s almost like asking somebody to take care of their baby,” Jackson County Commissioner Boyce Dietz said before the board unanimously passed a resolution in favor of sustained funding Dec. 18, 2017.

Latest GSMA musical release earns Grammy nod

The Great Smoky Mountains Association’s newest musical release, “Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition,” earned a Grammy nomination recently for “Best Album Notes” as written by Ted Olson, professor of Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Foothills Parkway complete

For the first time, vehicles can drive the entire 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway from Walland to Wears Valley, Tennessee.

Catalyst for adventure: Field school instructors reflect on three decades in the Smokies

The Smoky Mountain Field School was only a couple years old when Joel Zachary came on as an instructor in 1980. Kathy Zachary — then his girlfriend, now his wife — joined him in 1983, and the field school has been part of their lives ever since.

“We like to say that the success of the program is due to the instructors we have that are so enthusiastic about their topics,” Kathy said. “They have a passion for teaching and sharing, so the person who signs up to take a course really gets that contagious enthusiasm that the instructor shares.”

EBCI and Smokies work toward agreement for plant gathering in park boundaries

Cherokee tribal members could be gathering sochan plants from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as early as next spring after Tribal Council’s vote last week to fund the $68,100 needed to complete the regulatory process.

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