[at-l] Smokies Partners Renovate 15th Shelter

Jim Smith jim at smithbasement.com
Wed Dec 28 14:24:49 CST 2011

*Friends of **Great Smoky Mountains** National Park*

*www.friendsofthesmokies.org* <http://www.friendsofthesmokies.org/>**

*For Immediate Release:* December 28, 2011

*Contact:* Holly Scott, (800) 845-5665

* *

*Smokies Partners Renovate 15th Shelter*

(Kodak, TN) – Hikers on the Appalachian Trail may never tell campfire
stories about the renovation of all 15 backcountry shelters in the Smokies,
but they benefit from some amazing partnerships after a hard day’s trek.

Joint efforts of labor and funding from Friends of the Smokies, the
Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club improved
cooking and sleeping quarters for campers, while also reducing potential
problems with black bears.

Reconstruction at Laurel Gap, the fifteenth and final shelter project,
began in September, but weather prevented delivery of roofing materials by
helicopter.  The volunteer crew returned the first week of December to
finish roofing the shelter under the threat of winter snows.  Laurel Gap is
located in North Carolina, near the intersection of the Sterling Ridge and
Balsam Mountain Trails.  Twelve of the Park’s 15 backcountry shelters are
located on the Appalachian Trail; Mt. LeConte, Laurel Gap and Kephart Prong
are not.

“As with all of the shelter projects over the years, this one required a
real team effort,” said Jim Hart, President of Friends of the Smokies. “We
are very grateful to all the partners and donors, to project coordinator
Phyllis Henry, and to all the great volunteers for pitching in yet again.

Funds from Friends of the Smokies and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
furnished supplies and helicopter delivery of materials to the remote
shelter locations. The Appalachian Trail Maintainers Committee of the Smoky
Mountains Hiking Club provided the skilled volunteer labor necessary to
rebuild each shelter; their work was supervised by staff from the
Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Richard Haiman National Park Foundation contributed well over $100,000
to Friends of the Smokies since 1999 to support a dozen shelter projects,
including Laurel Gap. Additional financial support came from Friends of the
Smokies’ specialty license plate owners in Tennessee and North Carolina,
Home Federal Bank, Maureen K. Wilder and William O. Young.

Architect Philip Royer of Knoxville, also a member of the Appalachian Trail
Maintainers Committee, drew the basic blueprint for every shelter rehab
project, incorporating improved natural lighting, a cooking area to
separate food odors from the sleeping space, improved bunk access, new
roofs and masonry repair, the removal of chain-link fences, and drainage
improvements. With these changes, overnight hikers enjoy a much safer and
much more inviting camping experience.

“The redesigned shelters look great, and they make overnight trips in the
Smokies so much better for thousands of backpackers every year,” said
Darren Haiman, a trustee of the Haiman Foundation, which was established by
Darren’s father, Richard. “We’re very glad that we’ve had a chance to work
with Friends of the Smokies over the years to make these improvements

Friends of the Smokies, an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,
helps preserve and protect Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising
funds and public awareness and providing volunteers for needed projects.
Since 1993, Friends of the Smokies has raised more than $34 million to help
support conservation, education, recreation, and other park priorities.

To learn more, please visit:

            Friends of the Smokies - www.friendsofthesmokies.org

            Shelter Renovation Flickr Albums-

Haiman Foundation -

                        Appalachian Trail Conservancy -

                        Smoky Mountains Hiking Club - www.smhclub.org
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