We love Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains, and we know you do too. Gatlinburg is beloved by many as the vacation spot of their youth and by many others as the place to make their family vacation memories. We have families that become families in Gatlinburg from engagements to weddings to anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and more! We get lots of questions about guests can continue to show their love of the Smokies both when they visit and after they get home–to help ensure it is around for the future generations. Here are some of our favorite ways you can show your love of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains:
1. Specialty License Plate. If you live in Tennessee or North Carolina, you can choose to have a Friends of the Smokies license plate. Since Friends of the Smokies specialty license plate debuted in 1999 in Tennessee and in North Carolina in 2000, the tags have raised more than $5 million to support projects and programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! In addition, the TN Dept. of Safety offers Fish and Wildlife plates, and $35 of the fee is will be deposited in the wildlife resources fund to be used exclusively for management, protection, propagation and conservation of fish and wildlife species and the protection and enhancement of such species’ habitats.
2. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Inevitably, in going about our daily lives — commuting, sheltering our families, eating — each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Yet, there are many things each of us, as individuals, can do to reduce our carbon emissions. The choices we make in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and what we buy and throw away all influence our carbon footprint and can help ensure a stable climate in the Great Smoky Mountains & beyond for future generations. Measure your carbon footprint free, and reduce your emissions!
3. Become a Friend of the Smokies. Friends of the Smokies has raised over $24 million through individual, corporate and foundation contributions, special events, and sales of specialty license plates in Tennessee and North Carolina. Friends of the Smokies coordinates volunteers who provide assistance with projects that benefit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Friends of the Smokies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the Internal Revenue Service making your $25 Membership fee completely tax deductible. For a complete list of membership benefits, click here.
4. Plant a Tree in Your Hometown. Air Quality in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has actually improved in the past few years due to steps taken by legislators and industries to curb emissions. Do your part–plant a tree. They can be used to sequester carbon. The average tree removes 2,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere during its lifetime. Trees curb erosion and can clean over 2,000 gallons of water in a year. Trees can also be used for energy-saving purposes. If you planted 20 trees per year, you would offset carbon enough to basically be carbon neutral. While you should always plant trees native to your area, take some time and learn about the benefits of the chestnut tree. Get 10 free trees with your $10 Arbor Day Foundation membership.
5. Shop online with the Great Smoky Mountain Association. GSMA has been a non-profit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 1953. They are the official source for park maps, guides, books, and logo clothing! Great Smoky Mountains National Park benefits from every purchase you make! In 2008, GSMA contributed $1.84 million to fund educational, scientific and historic programs. Since its creation in 1953, GSMA has contributed aid to the Park totaling over $14.7 million. Publications, sales, and membership dues sustain these operations. Revenue from online purchases go directly toward accomplishing our mission.
6. Support Traditional Mountain Arts. Most people assuming “support the arts” means a “make a donation,” and I have no doubt that the Friends of Arrowmont would appreciate any funds you would like to give. However, I am suggesting that you schedule your next vacation so that you can take classes at Arrowmont. Workshops are offered for one and two weeks in the spring and summer, and one-week and weekends in the fall. Areas of study include: ceramics, fibers, metals/jewelry, painting, drawing, photography, warm glass, wood turning, woodworking, sculpture & book and paper arts. Remind yourself and teach your family the value of both the handmade and the homemade by learning one of the many arts that makes the Smokies so culturally rich and diverse.
7. Leave No Trace. This program is designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. Before you venture outdoors, make the commitment to live by the Leave No Trace principals, and you’ll be showing your love to the planet–not just the Smokies!
8. Support local business. Reward the Smoky Mountain merchants that have made a pledge to go green with your business the next time you visit: Arrowmont, Ober Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum, Gabriel’s Horn, Jim Gray Gallery, Fox Hill Gallery and Highland Craft Gallery. Let them know you appreciate their decision to love the Smokies as much as you do.
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.