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Strong sales of ‘friends plates’ support park improvements

Strong sales of ‘friends plates’ support park improvements

Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 8:02 pm

The Friends of the Smokies Tennessee specialty license plate makes a huge impact on Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year thanks to the thousands of Tennesseans who buy or renew friends plates for their vehicles.
In the first half of 2010, revenue from the Friends of the Smokies specialty license plate in Tennessee raised more than $183,000 to help preserve and protect Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Funds from the sale of Friends’ Tennessee plates support a wide array of park projects and programs. This includes restoration of the lobby at historic park headquarters near Gatlinburg, which originally served at a visitors center; funding for Parks as Classrooms, which provides hands-on, curriculum-based learning opportunities for thousands of schoolchildren; support for the Appalachian Bear Rescue Center, which rehabilitates orphaned and injured black bears for reintroduction into their native habitat; and expansion of treatment areas for the park’s eastern hemlock trees under attack by the exotic, invasive hemlock woolly adelgid.
“Each year we rely on strong sales of the Friends’ Tennessee license plate to help us reach our goal of providing more than $1 million to support park needs,” explains Jim Hart, president of Friends of the Smokies. “We are so grateful to our license plate supporters. Their faithful once-per-year decision to renew their friends’ plates makes a lasting difference in the park we all love.”
The organization receives $30.75 from each Tennessee Friends of the Smokies plate sold. Plates are available at county clerk’s offices or can be renewed or ordered by mail.  For more information, visit http://www.friendsofthesmokies.org.
“The Friends’ plates are so noticeable, with the purple mountains and orange sky. Whenever I see one, it makes me smile because I know that is someone who loves the park and wants to help take care of it,” says park superintendent Dale Ditmanson.
Published in The Messenger 8.3.10

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