Citizen Scientist Volunteer Opportunity at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Volunteers at work in the park.

Volunteers are working with Great Smoky Mountains National Park biologists to help find ash trees and document locations in a database in order to monitor the species health. The volunteers also benefit by learning tree identification techniques, map reading, and GPS use. NPS photo.

Researchers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are looking for a few good volunteers for a one-day project at the park on October 31, 2009. If you'd like to learn some new skills and are up to several miles of hiking, here are the details.

The scheduled field activity will involve mapping locations of ash trees on the Tennessee side of the Park from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, 2009. Volunteers will learn how to identify ash and other common trees found in the Smoky Mountains, read a topographic map, and use a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit.

The ash trees are at risk from the invasive, non-native Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that can travel undetected in firewood and nursery stock from quarantined areas of the country into new locations in the Park. The data that is collected will help Park staff map the locations of ash trees parkwide to monitor the health of the forest and detect future infestations.

Volunteers for this project should be prepared to hike up to 5 miles on Park trails and in rough terrain off the main paths. It is recommended that participants wear long pants and comfortable closed-toe shoes or boots for hiking and bring a lunch, water, sunscreen, and rain gear.

Reservations are necessary and participation is limited to 16 people (children 12 and under must bring an adult). Contact Ranger Susan Simpson at 865-436-1200, ext. 762 to make a reservation, and for the meeting location and directions.