Moving mountains is no easy task, but volunteers and trail crews hauling boulders, digging waterbars and otherwise rehabilitating trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will have an easier time with their new Trails Forever equipment trailer, thanks to a $10,000 grant from REI. The Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrated the donation from REI, the nation’s leading outdoor gear store, amongst Park supporters at the Wine Studio of Asheville. Ching Fu, outreach specialist for Asheville’s REI store, presented a check to Friends of the Smokies’ North Carolina Director Holly Demuth to benefit the Trails Forever program, which supports trail improvement projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“We love the Smokies, and we want to encourage volunteer stewardship of the park’s amazing system of trails,” said Fu. “It’s a great fit for us, our customers, and everyone who enjoys the great outdoors.”
REI’s donation finances a new equipment trailer to transport the tools and supplies necessary to conduct major trail improvement projects, and support a seasonal trail crew that oversees the trail work and coordinates the efforts of hundreds of volunteers each year. In addition to business donations, the Trails Forever program is supported through donations from individuals and volunteer efforts.
“Even before this donation, REI has been a great partner in encouraging people to enjoy the Smokies on foot,” said Holly Demuth, North Carolina director of Friends of the Smokies. “Their support for the seasonal trail crew will help us utilize a lot of great volunteers, and the mobile tool shed will help immediately and for many years to come.”
The Trails Forever campaign is an effort by Friends of the Smokies to create a permanent fund to support major trail improvements each year on the park’s 800 miles of trails. To donate to Trails Forever or to learn more about volunteer opportunities, go online to www.smokiestrailsforever.org or call Friends of the Smokies at (800) 845-5665.
– Friends of the Smokies