Happy Birthday, Great Smoky Mountains Association

GSMA birthday cakeThis month, March 2013, marks the 60th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains Association. Happy Birthday, GSMA!

March 1953. GSMA was created to do what the National Park Service couldn’t do. They publish books and other material about Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They also manage the bookstores in and around the park. Organizations such as GSMA are known as cooperating association. Here is their mission statement:

Great Smoky Mountains Association supports the perpetual preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the national park system by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation through education, interpretation, and research.

You might know the Association by their famous “brown book” – Hiking Trails of the Smokies. That is the definitive description of the official 803 miles trails in the park. You might know the “one-dollar” trail map which is updated each year. And lots of other products.

So how do they help the park?

First, they publish and sell official publications. These products are reviewed by park staff to make sure that it’s accurate. Secondly, GSMA donates a good percentage of sales to the park. With this money, the park is able to fund programs that they couldn’t do with their government funding. Too many good works to list them all. Check out the list.

Don’t confuse GSMA with Friends of the Smokies. The latter group was created exclusively to fund-raise for the Smokies. Different group, different method of supporting the park. But same sentiment–too many needs, not enough tax dollars.

Happy birthday, GSMA! 


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