Editorial: The park needs you on June 1; volunteer your time to make the Smokies better

May. 22, 2013 @ 11:45 PM

Here is a great way to help your national park, get some good exercise and produce some work of which you'll be proud. Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate the 21st annual National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1 with a volunteer opportunity to participate in Appalachian Trail Work Day.

The park is working with Friends of the Smokies, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club to host this event. But to make it successful will require an army of volunteers willing to give some time to spruce up the most visited national park in the country.

This event has taken place for 17 years and highlights the importance of trails to recreation, education, and physical fitness as well as recognizes the work performed by trail volunteers, park officials say. During 2012 the park had over 30,000 volunteer hours of time to help maintain the over 800-mile trail system.

Appalachian Trail Work Day allows you a way to help care for sections of the Appalachian Trail. Volunteers will be assisting in such work as the cleaning and replacing water bars, rehabilitating steps and turnpikes, and generally helping to main trail tread on sections of the AT between Icewater Springs Shelter and Silers Bald, Davenport Gap going south and northeast from Low Gap. You do what you feel able to do; all volunteers are needed and will be accommodated.

The work day concludes with a barbecue picnic at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area for all registrants who will also receive a commemorative T-shirt. A registration fee for this activity will apply which goes to sponsor trail projects in the Smokies. Participants should wear sturdy shoes, bring lots of water and a lunch for the day. For more information or to obtain a registration form, visit http://www.friendsofthesmokies.org/events.html or contact Holly Scott at 865-932-4794.

Make plans to be part of this annual event. Volunteers make the difference in the Smokies. That means you.