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Great Smoky Mountains Association Earns Prestigious National Awards

Posted by | 03.01.2017

Great Smoky Mountains Association, a long-time, education partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, earned multiple top honors recently for projects unveiled during 2016, the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration year. Presented annually by the Public Lands Alliance during their convention, the awards honor individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs and services that embody leading-edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors.

“Pictures for a Park,” a large-format book highlighting early photographers who helped persuade the public and Congress to create Great Smoky Mountains National Park, received PLA’s prestigious Publication of the Year award. Written by Rose Houk and designed by Lisa Horstman, the book includes the work of such Smoky Mountain luminaries as Jim Thompson, George Masa, Laura Thornburgh, and Dutch Roth. Great Smoky Mountains Association developed the book in conjunction with the NPS Centennial, making it available in hard cover and paperback.

“These early photographers worked hard for their images,” said Steve Kemp, GSMA’s interpretive products and services director. “They were tramping through the backcountry, often without benefit of trails, hauling massive cameras, tripods, and glass plates. We were all happy to finally give these talented photographers the credit they deserve for the quality of their craft and their success at making the dream of a national park in the Great Smoky Mountains come true.”

 PLA’s Publication of the Year award recognizes a book or other publication created in partnership by a nonprofit organization and a public land that embodies innovation in educating and interpreting public lands to its readers, and impacts a substantial audience.

GSMA’s compact disk “On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-time Smoky Mountain Music” won top honors in the Innovative Product of the Year category. More than two dozen of the most accomplished musicians in the folk, bluegrass, and Americana genres donated their performances for the CD, including Dolly Parton, Norman Blake, Dom Flemons and Carol Elizabeth Jones. Songs recorded for the CD were largely based on the recordings made in the Great Smokies by songcatcher Joseph S. Hall in the 1930s and ’50s.

“Nearly all the musicians on this project donated their performances to GSMA and the park as a way of helping us with our educational and historical efforts,” said Kemp. “These folks are authentic and the best in the business. We are indeed fortunate."

PLA’s Innovative Product of the Year award recognizes an interpretive product created in partnership by a nonprofit organization and land management agency that embodies a path-breaking approach to achieving a public lands mission.

The Southern Appalachian Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Map, which came into existence thanks to a collaboration between GSMA, Partners of Cherokee National Forest and other regional agencies and nonprofits, earned PLA’s first-place award in the Outstanding Public Engagement category. A variety of public lands, including national forests, national parks, and state parks are featured on the map, making it an indispensable tool for outdoor recreationists traveling in the Southern mountains.

During the spring of 2016, a variety of large-scale murals were created and installed at Knoxville’s McGhee-Tyson Airport, also as part of the National Park Service Centennial celebration. The murals highlight all National Park Service sites within 200 miles of the airport. Participants include Obed Wild and Scenic River, Big South Fork, Andrew Johnson, Cumberland Gap, Stones River, Overmountain Victory, and Great Smoky Mountains. This cooperative project earned an honorable mention from PLA.

The Outstanding Public Engagement Award recognizes exemplary products, displays, programs and services created in partnership by a nonprofit organization and public lands that advance meaningful and sustainable connections between individuals and America’s public lands.

“We take very seriously our commitment to produce the finest, most accurate, and innovative interpretive materials about Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Laurel Rematore, GSMA’s executive director. “We are honored to receive recognition from our peers as we proceed with the important work of engaging visitors in the stewardship of the Smokies and of all our public lands."

The nonprofit Public Lands Alliance is a network of more than 120 member organizations that serve more than 500 public lands and contribute some $150 million annually to the preservation and visitor enhancement of those lands. PLA members are located in all states and territories and provide operational and interpretive support to every major federal management agency.

Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has given more than $36 million to support the ongoing educational, scientific and preservation efforts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Support for the non-profit association is derived primarily from visitor center sales of ranger-approved educational products and membership dues. Those who wish to strengthen their Smokies experience are encouraged to join GSMA at www.SmokiesInformation.org or call toll-free 888.898.9102.

“Pictures for a Park,” a large-format book developed by Great Smoky Mountains Association and highlighting early photographers who helped persuade the public and Congress to create Great Smoky Mountains National Park, received PLA’s prestigious Publication of the Year award during the organization’s annual awards programs in Arlington, Va., in mid-February.

“On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-time Smoky Mountain Music,” a CD developed by GSMA and featuring more than two dozen of the most accomplished musicians in the folk, bluegrass, and Americana genres, won top honors in PLA’s Innovative Product of the Year category.

 

In honor of the National Park Service Centennial, the baggage claim area at the McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville was transformed into an immersive visit to nine National Park Service units including Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Obed Wild and Scenic River, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Stones River National Battlefield, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over 18,000 square feet of wall space is now wrapped with innovative, original artwork introducing visitors to these special places. The project earned its creator, including Great Smoky Mountains Association, an honorable mention during the Public Lands Alliance annual awards ceremony.

Tagged: GSMA News

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