Friends of the Smokies and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will continue their partnership to assist Great Smoky Mountains National Park with proactive bear management. The ATC’s North Carolina specialty license plate grant program awarded Friends of the Smokies $4,000 to support repairs of food storage cables at campsites and shelters along the Smokies stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
For more than 20 years, 50% of shelters and campsites in the Smokies have experienced some form of human-bear conflict annually. The installation and maintenance of food storage cables, in combination with warning signage, closures, and visitor education, enables the National Park Service to optimize bear management and keep wildlife wild. Thanks in part to ATC funding, every backcountry campsite in the Smokies has food storage cables, creating a safer environment for bears and hikers alike.
The Appalachian Trail runs for more than 71 miles through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, entering the park from the south at Fontana Dam, and exiting in the northeast at Davenport Gap. More than 15,000 people have thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in its entirety from Georgie to Maine, with many more completing the Smokies section along the North Carolina-Tennessee border.