Since 1953, the park's cooperating association, Great Smoky Mountains Association, has been supporting the educational, scientific, and historical efforts of the National Park Service through cash donations and in-kind services. In 2011 alone, the association provided over $4.7 million worth of assistance to the park, including over $3 million to build the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Projects the association helped to fund include the elk reintroduction, seasonal park rangers, oral history projects, bear research, and backcountry services.
Memberships start at just $35 per year. Join today by visiting www.thegreatsmokymountains.org/
Great Smoky Mountains Association is a nonprofit organization that operates several bookstores in the park and in surrounding communities. They carry a wide array of items to make your trip to the park more enjoyable and memorable. Visit their online store.
Did You Know?
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.