Park the rig and ride the bike. That's the tack being taken in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park this fall to better manage visitors and elk.
Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Haywood County (North Carolina) Tourism Development Authority to Friends of the Smokies, the Elk Bugle Corps is a more visible presence in Cataloochee Valley this year with its new Elk Bike Patrol.
The TDA grant provides the Elk Bike Patrol with safety uniform shirts, bike shorts and pants, bike safety mirrors and repair kits, and radio gear. These bicycle volunteers, like Stefanie McIntosh of Asheville, North Carolina, help control traffic, nimbly dealing with “elk jams,” answering visitor questions, and being a highly visible presence in the valley.
"Being on a bike allows us to respond quickly during high traffic times and during visitor emergencies. Kudos to GSMNP South District Ranger Joe Pond for this idea," said Ms. McIntosh.
The TDA grant also supplies more uniforms for the Elk Bugle Corps roving the valley on foot and in the volunteers’ E-Ride vehicle so that visitors know where to turn for information.
"Our mission is to mobilize financial support for Great Smoky Mountains National Park to fund important park projects such as this,” said Holly Demuth, director of North Carolina resource development of Friends of the Smokies. “Supporting the Elk Bugle Corps and its new Elk Bike Patrol, made possible by this TDA grant, creates a happy visitor experience and increases tourism for Haywood County.”