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Friends Of Smokies, Appalachian Trail Conservancy String More Bear Cables In The Smokies


The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has donated $1,110 to help provide cables in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park so backpackers can hang their food and gear out of the reach of bears. Photo by Billy Jones via Friends of the Smokies.

For the third year in a row the Friends of the Smokies and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy have teamed up to string bear cables in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park so backpackers can keep food and gear away from bruins.

The Conservancy has provided $1,110 from its specialty license plate funds to help reduce black bear access to backpacker food along the Appalachian Trail.

“Both groups share an interest in safe backcountry experiences, keeping wildlife wild, and working with partners,” said Stephen Woody, treasurer for the Friends of the Smokies' board of directors. “Plus, with a backpacker on the A.T. plate and a black bear on the Smokies plate, it’s hard to think of a better project for us to work together on.”

Using the grant funds from the ATC, Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff and wildlife interns have repaired cables at the Mollies Ridge shelter and Cosby Knob shelter, which had become damaged by the elements and use over time. With proper and vigilant use by backpackers, the repaired storage system will continue to increase both visitor and bear safety by helping reduce the number of bears raiding shelter areas in the park.

According to Bill Stiver, a park wildlife biologist, “as backpackers continue to hang their food, the cables protect hikers and campers. Not to mention keeping the bears from learning to depend on human food.”

Friends of the Smokies and the ATC have also partnered to renovate many of the backcountry shelters along the A.T. in the Smokies and to support several other efforts to address trail maintenance and hiker safety.

Friends would like to thank both ATC and Friends’ license plate owners whose ownership helps support projects like these in GSMNP.

“It’s all about preserving and protecting two great national park units, visitor experience and their natural resources,” said Holly Demuth, North Carolina director of Friends of the Smokies. “We do best when we work together.”


The cable pack hanging system is a great convenience for backpackers. I remember the days when one had to find a suitable tree limb to use with a rock-weighted rope to rig your own pack hanging system. That was really fun when you arrived at the campsite after dark.

The key thing here is that volunteer and friends groups pay for and maintain this "amenity". The NPS charges backpackers for use of this "amenity". Important to note. The NPS has no capital investment in the backcountry. All the work is done by volunteers including trail maintenance that is funded through the Aslan foundation. Yet the Smokies charges backpackers for use of the backcountry in spite of the spirit of Smokies founders who wished to ensure this type of thing would NEVER happen. This will all be produced when the lawsuit comes to trial soon, after the Smokies superintendent quits asking for extensions to get his books in order.

Beating the dead horse! Would you rather go back to the old system when it was extremely difficult to get through on the phone to make a back country reservation?

As someone who hikes a great deal in GRSM I can say the backcountry sites appear cleaner and less disturbed. I guess the "freeloaders" tend to nasty up the place more!

We will go back to the old FREE system. The lawsuit will force modifications once the NPS lies are open for the world to see. Free of bureaucracy. Reserving empty campsites. Go back to your government job shuffling papers and cooking books for the NPS. You work for us. Public comments are 18-1 against the fee. And people do not like the burdensome computer system now implemented. Nice try. Thanks for the MINORITY report.

Are you still beating that dead horse? Get over it. You sound so grumpy and bitter.

Or you walk into that office and the old guy who could barely use a computer would fumble around and it would take 20 minutes to get a spot.. The new way is 1000 times easier, how hard is it? I could go online right now, check a spot out in less than 2 minutes and be on my way. You must be completely computer illiterate if you can't use that system, smokiesbackpacker. How hard is it to google "backcountry camping great smokies", click a few buttons, find a site, select a date, and add it. Jeez louise.

And I noticed that the sites are in better shape. The freeloaders must be staying away or the rangers are booting them before they get a chance to cut down trees, and litter.

another LOUD voice from the minority who think fees on public lands are good. Its like watching foxnews over here. I'll bet that Smokymtnman is another imported know it all with a carpetbag full of ideas for dumb southerners.

Just a friendly note from the editor: Let's not get bogged down in mudslinging. Viewpoints made in constructive fashion are fine, but let's not throw bricks.

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