• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Focus On... Changing landscapes: restoring native communities & monitoring forest dynamics

Historic oak on unmaintained Parson bald.

Black oaks such as this on Parsons bald were noted in 1821. Vegetation studies assess how tree and plant composition in the Smokies is changing.

NPS photo.

Many things have changed the landscape in the Great Smoky Mountains over the past centuries. Because we’re in a National Park, we’re not usually concerned with restoring landscapes that have changed due to fire, wind, flood, landslide, or drought, unless of course they pose a safety issue. We are often interested in restoring landscapes that people changed, because those changes can reduce the number and diversity of native plants and animals. Logging, farming, clearing for homesites, and planting species from Europe and Asia are all examples of human changes to the landscape that vegetation managers need to address.

Return to Dispatches from the Field: Issue 1 to go into the field with NPS scientists and partners.

Did You Know?

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001.

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls. More...