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.
Community steps up to care for parks during shutdown
The National Park Service is closed.
When the clock struck midnight on Dec. 22, 2018, the latest continuing budget resolution expired and the federal government’s failure to agree on a spending bill resulted in the suspension of all “non-essential” government services — including most services associated with operating the national parks. Of 24,681 National Park Service employees nationwide, only 3,298 are working during the shutdown, with just 326 for the entire Southeast region.
Cruising the Smokies under shutdown
It’s just after 11 a.m. on a weekday, and while a road sign at the Cherokee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alerts travelers “All facilities closed for govt shutdown,” visitors are still arriving.
The lowdown on the shutdown
There are plenty of misconceptions about the federal government shutdown — what it is, who it affects, how it happens, and why — but what is clear is that both parties have engaged in the tactic for almost 45 years, and as time goes on, shutdowns are becoming longer, and becoming more commonly used as a policy tool.
A writer’s retreat: GSMA offers writing residency in the Smokies
Steve Kemp moved to the Great Smoky Mountains in 1987 for what would become a 30-year career with the Great Smoky Mountains Association, and following his 2017 retirement GSMA is looking to honor his contributions to the organization through a new writer’s residency.
“There is a specific skill in writing in a way that engages the reader and inspires curiosity and passion in the reader, and that’s what we want to be able to cultivate,” said Laurel Rematore, executive director of GSMA, “because we’re in the business of helping people to connect with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, connect on an emotional level so they will take care of it.”
Sochan in springtime: Cherokee looks to reclaim plant gathering traditions in the Smokies
For centuries and even millennia, the early spring greens of the sochan plant have served as a celebration of spring for the Cherokee people. If a proposal now out for public comment meets approval, in a few months tribal members could hold that celebration with greens harvested in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“Our culture is not linear. It’s more circular, and going back to places like the park, to where we once inhabited and lived and collected, it takes on a different meaning of spirituality,” said Tommy Cabe, forest resource specialist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a sochan gatherer himself. “It takes on a different meaning of who we are as Cherokee.”