Do you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and like to volunteer? If so, there's a great opening in the park at Clingmans Dome this summer.
On June 19 the park will open a visitor contact station at Clingmans Dome, and park officials are hoping to recruit some volunteers to help staff it.
The building that served as a comfort station, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, is being renovated and converted into a seasonal information center that will also include a bookstore/sales area managed by Great Smoky Mountains Association.
The center sits at an elevation of 6,300 feet and will be a point source of information on the national park, in general, and on the surrounding high elevation spruce-fir ecosystem in particular. Volunteers are needed to assist in educating visitors about the park and providing recreational and trip planning information and directions to other destinations.
“In the past, visitors to this popular destination did not have a chance to obtain information on their high elevation visit or have questions answered, including the most asked, ‘What caused the trees to die?’” said Great Smokey Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “Now with the help of volunteers staffing the center, visitors can inquire and learn about the stands of dead trees caused by the nonnative insect, the balsam woolly adelgid.”
Many other helpful services will be available, including the ability to purchase guides and maps, outdoor apparel, and other products sold by the Great Smoky Mountains Association. “The association is a significant partner with the park and is involved in a number of projects to improve visitors’ experience. The funding for the renovations to the building, interpretive exhibit material, and staffing is coming from the Association through its revenue raised from merchandise sales and paid memberships,” said Superintendent Ditmanson.
Volunteers will be working alongside association employees and each volunteer is asked to work at least one four-hour shift per week. The hours will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Interested persons will be provided orientation and training before beginning at the contact station. The period that volunteers will be needed is during the peak season, June through October. To sign up for this volunteer work or for more information, contact Florie Takaki at 828/497-1906 or by email, Wednesdays through Fridays.