Making history: In the summer of ’67, former college president was Smokies’ first black naturalist

The year that Joe Lee turned 21, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision turned 13, the Civil Rights Act turned 3 and last published edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book turned 1. 

It also happened to be the year that the U.S. Department of the Interior mandated that the national parks get on board with integration and begin hiring African-American rangers. Lee, a rising senior at Talladega College with a strong interest in biology and botany, applied for a naturalist position in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Park enters second phase of reopening

The opening of Clingmans Dome Road on Tuesday, May 19, was followed by an additional wave of reopenings on Saturday, May 23. 

Second Lady Pence visits the Smokies: Applauds reopening, mental health benefits of outdoor recreation

Visiting Clingmans Dome is like being in the clouds, Second Lady Karen Pence said when she visited the site Tuesday, May 19 — and she certainly wasn’t wrong. On a clear day, the views from the top of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s highest point extend for 100 miles, and while the aforementioned clouds and accompanying rain slashed that range by roughly 99 percent, Pence said that was more than enough to appreciate the place’s beauty. 

Second Lady visits Smokies as park announces Phase 2 reopenings

Second Lady Karen Pence visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today to celebrate implementation of the park’s next reopening phase and to highlight the important mental health benefits of time outdoors.

Smokies reopens: DOI Secretary makes visit; Tribe, Parkway also increase public access

Visitors from 26 different states and Washington, D.C., traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last weekend after it opened for the first time since coronavirus concerns prompted a complete closure March 24. 

Phase reopening starts in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened most trails and roads when it entered its first phase of reopening last weekend, but some areas and facilities remain closed. 

Smokies to partially reopen May 9

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park plans to reopen many of its roads and trails beginning Saturday, May 9. Campgrounds, picnic pavilions, visitor centers and many secondary roads will remain closed during the first reopening phase, which is expected to last for at least two weeks.

Public land managers discuss closure decisions and plans for re-opening

While people nationwide are lamenting the loss of bars, restaurants, concerts, festivals and countless other aspects of community life amid the COVID-19 crisis, for many in Western North Carolina the deepest blow has been the loss of access to hundreds of thousands of acres of cherished public lands. 

Synchronous firefly event canceled

The wildly popular synchronous firefly viewing event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been canceled this year as efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 continue.

Pandemic presents budget challenge for Swain

County governments are in the midst of planning for their 2020-21 fiscal budgets that have to be approved by the end of June, but the COVID-19 Pandemic is going to throw a wrench in their ability to project revenues for the remainder of the year.

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