Anderson Design Group, a family-owned business based in Nashville, TN, creates poster art to document the wonder of America's 63 national parks. The following is an excerpt from an interview ADG conducted with Great Smoky Mountains Association CEO Laurel Rematore to raise awareness for the important educational work, conservation, youth involvement, and preservation activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Read the interview in its entirety here.
|Great Smoky Mountains National Park posters created by Anderson Design Group.|
Great to have you with us, Laurel! Let me start by asking, what is Great Smoky Mountains Association?
Laurel: Happy to be here! We provide educational programs and services in and around GSMNP. The most visible way we assist the park is by operating educational bookstores in the park’s visitor centers. The second way we assist the park is by publishing over 100 books, maps, DVDs, and pamphlets about the park, which form part of our retail merchandise. The third way we assist the park is by administering individual and business membership programs, which then serve as informed constituencies for the park and GSMA. One of our publications is our twice-yearly magazine called Smokies Life, which is a coveted benefit of membership. Altogether, GSMA employs nearly 100 people, about 75 of whom are helping run our bookstore operations. We also donate funds each year to the park. Last year, we donated over $1.5 million to the National Park Service!
Fantastic! Is your group also in charge of programs and activities outside the most-visited national park? How does your group interact with the broader community?
Laurel: GSMA operates educational bookstores in three gateway communities, the Gatlinburg Welcome Center, the Townsend Visitor Center, and in Bryson City, North Carolina. We also belong to the local Chambers of Commerce. We're also a part of the Safe Passage Fund Coalition, which aims to implement wildlife crossings on a 26-mile section of Interstate 40 outside the park. When animals travel outside of the park to seek food, shelter, and mates, they often have to cross I-40, which puts them in danger. We're advocating for and working with partners on creating safe wildlife crossings, which can take many forms such as culverts, underpasses, overpasses, and fencing. As five bridges are replaced in the Pigeon River Gorge over the next five years, modifications will be implemented by the department of transportation to make the road more permeable for wildlife and safer for drivers.