The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Celebrate the wild ties that bind Americans on Public Lands Day 2022 — Saturday, Sept. 24

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GATLINBURG — The director of the National Park Service is expected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

Director Chuck Sams plans to make some remarks in appreciation for the volunteers who help backstop national park maintenance costs before citizens fan out for various tasks across the park. Sams is the first Native American to head the park service, and he will be joined by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard G. Sneed.

National health directors and environmental education experts are also expected to share their visions of the importance of the National Park System and other preserved lands to national well-being. It's the most productive annual event for volunteer participation on public lands, according to the National Park Service.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park unit in the nation and has a maintenance backlog of millions of dollars.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on the Cumberland Plateau will also observe the event with some free camping options and the hosting of some volunteer cadres.

Closer to Knoxville, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning in partnership with TVA offer a chance to rip out invasive species and improve a public wild area.

The event is set for TVA’s Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area on Melton Hill Reservoir in Oak Ridge. TCWP has for many years partnered with TVA to enhance and protect natural resources at Worthington Cemetery and other TVA lands throughout East Tennessee as part of mutual stewardship efforts. Main projects include the removal of invasive plant species such as wisteria.

Participants should meet at 9 a.m. at the Elza Gate Park picnic area near the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Melton Lake Drive. TCWP will provide a pizza lunch when work concludes around 1 p.m.

For more information on the work, contact Jimmy Groton

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