Wilderness Wildlife Week in the Smokies

In 2009, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park turns 75 years old!  Founded in 1934, ours is one of the most popular national parks in the country.  I’m looking forward to special events throughout the year that will highlight the history and attractions of the park.

Hoar Frost-coated trees in the Smokies

Hoar Frost-coated trees in the Smokies

The first event of 2009 is the 19th annual Wilderness Wildlife Week, held January 10-17, 2009, in the Music Road Hotel Convention Center.  This will be the longest kickoff event to the park’s celebratory year, and several special classes, seminars, and events have been added to the schedule.  More than 150 expert presenters will be involved in the over 220 programs and activities for the week, and there are also scheduled hikes in the park and a “then and now” photo exhibit covering the last 75 years.

Some sessions will be limited in size, and registration will be available from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 9th, in the convention center lobby, and again early each morning during the week. 

There will be character portrayals of Theodore Roosevelt, William Bartram, and John Muir; a special textiles of the Smokies exhibit, including items never before displayed; programs for students and children; and a photography contest.

Learn about nature photography, slide show presentations, woodcarving, flora and fauna in the park, stream fishing, playing the dulcimer or harmonica, dowsing, and all about the history, folklore, and music of the peoples of the Smokies.

Contact the Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events at 865-429-7350 for a complimentary copy of the Official Program.  I picked up a copy this afternoon, and after reading through the schedule, I may have to take that week off to catch all the presentations I’d like to see!  

Most events are free, though the “Then and Now” photo exhibit and dessert reception on Saturday evening, January 17th, is a fundraiser in support of the Friends of the Smokies organization, and reservations are required.  Call 865-932-4794 or reserve on site.

Let me quote a bit of information from the program:

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 4,000 species of plants that grow there.  A walk from mountain base to peak compares with traveling 1,250 miles north.  Several resident plants and animals live only in the Smokies.  It also has a rich cultural history.  From the Cherokee Indians, to the Scotch-Irish settlers, this land was home to a variety of cultures and people.  Many historic structures remain standing.  Subsistence turned to exploitation as logging concerns stripped the region of timber.  Recovery is now the dominant theme.

There are 9 million visits per year.  The National Park Service must balance the needs of the land with the desires of the people both today and for the future.”

I’m really looking forward to the 75th anniversary year of the park, and Wilderness Wildlife Week will be a great place to start!

~Janet @ Christmas Place

P.S.  Mom, you & Dad should think about entering the photo contest!   Go here for the rules and here for an entry form.

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