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Article on Smokies in todays AR Dem Gaz

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Article on Smokies in todays AR Dem Gaz

Post by commandokanak on Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:24 am

Did anyone read the article on the Smokies today? It discussed declining usage and state of disrepair due to lack of funds. It questions todays generation of children being tomorrows leaders and not placing any importance on national parks/forests due to their sedentary lifestyle of computers and video games. Gave a very grim outlook for the future of conservancy.

Is it really that bad out there? I've not spent much time in the national parks or forests lately. I've been wanting to get out to do some hiking and camping but my new job has me on the road 4 to 5 days a week right now. I just finished week 7 of a 10 week stretch of travelling. It will slow down for me (hopefully!).

For those of you who read it, what are your thoughts?

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Re: Article on Smokies in todays AR Dem Gaz

Post by chili on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:24 am

There has been a backlog of repairs needing to be done in the Smokeys for a few years.

Most of these are what I would refer to as "contractor" jobs requiring heavy equipment, engineering, construction, etc. The NPS was not a priority for federal funding with the last Administration (not taking a jab, just stating a fact: whether it changes remains to be seen).

However, in the backcountry, I found the trails, signs, campsites and shelters to be well maintained. I lived in Townsend 4 years and spent a considerable amount of time in GSMNP. Most of this maintenance is done by volunteers. Private funding takes care of most of it. Most of the shelters have been remodeled in the past few years (new roof, new design, the old fences have been removed from the front) and have been very well done. Volunteers along with NPS personnel do the work. On the trails, a blow down doesn't stay there long before someone cuts it out. Grade work, steps, drainage are all taken care of on a routine basis.

It is the big projects that suffer from lack of funding.

As far as how much use the sites get...I will say that in the GSMNP, once you get more than 100 yards from any roadway, the number of people you see falls expoentially. I have spent many a weekend up there in the peak tourist season without seeing anyone in the backcountry. I haven't seen any hard statistics on the number of permits pulled on a year by year basis, but in the 25 years I have been backpacking, my casual observation tells me that the number of people on the trail is not significantly greater than it was in the early 80's and is possibly less.

GSMNP gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 million visitors a year. The surrounding area gets about 10 million. Given the number of people there, I have found the Park has done a great job in managing its resources.

I would really like to read the article you referred to.
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