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Monday, March 9, 2009, USA Today

New visitor center to be built in Smoky Mountains

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - The National Park Service is cleared to build a new visitor center on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson says an environmental study has found no significant impact would take place from construction of a new Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

The new building of 6,000-7,000 square feet would replace a former ranger station and court room built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

It would be build adjacent to the current center, about two miles inside the park on Newfound Gap Road and near Cherokee, N.C.

The Great Smoky Mountains Association will fund the $2.5 million construction and the Friends of the Smokies will spend $500,000 to create maps, exhibits and media to interpret the park.

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