Last summer while on a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), backpackers were able to continue to keep their food and packs out of reach of bears, protecting both themselves and the bears. For a third year the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has made backpacker safety and wildlife health a priority, providing $1,110 from its specialty license plate funds to help reduce black bear access to backpacker food along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). The A.T. is a national park unit spanning from Georgia to Maine with more than 70 miles in GSMNP.
“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.”