Author: Frances Figart

  1. Gatlinburg’s Artist Community in New Smokies Life

    Gatlinburg’s Artist Community in New Smokies Life

    The idea for a series of stories about artists in park gateway communities came to us via Kathie Thomas of Gatlinburg’s HighLand Craft Gallery. Her objective was simple: share about the crafts of local families whose artisan heritage stretches back to pre-park days. I loved the idea and enlisted Sue Wasserman to do the research and writing.

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  2. Lichens of the Smokies Revealed at Science at Sugarlands

    Lichens of the Smokies Revealed at Science at Sugarlands

    James Lendemer loves lichens. He loves talking about them, showing pictures of them, and telling others what lichens are and how they are important.

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  3. Science at Sugarlands: Post-fire Plant-Soil Interactions

    Science at Sugarlands: Post-fire Plant-Soil Interactions

    By Frances Figart, creative services director

    Soil is the foundation of our planet. We walk on top of it every day, yet most of us rarely think about it.

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  4. DLIA Brings Beetle Mania to the Smokies: An interview with Claire Winfrey

    Beetle Study

    Did you know… about one in every four animals on the planet is a beetle! Of the  roughly 400,000 species of beetles known, some are pollinators, others recyclers –some even help to offset the effects of climate change.

    “Insects are an instant connection to the wild and an extreme example of Earth’s biodiversity,” says Claire Winfrey, a beetle expert and second-year Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Especially in warmer months, take some time to look in almost any type of habitat and you can find them.”

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  5. We won! GSMA Brings Home Three Awards from Public Lands Alliance

    Photo of Susan Sachs at PLA conference

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park education branch chief Susan Sachs accepts her award for Agency Leadership and speaks to her years of partnership building during the Public Lands Alliance’s 2019 conference in Denver, CO.

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  6. A conversation with the authors of the new Kephart biography

    Book cover of Back of Beyond by George Ellison and Janet McCue

    Working with literary authorities George Ellison and Janet McCue to edit their new book, Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography, was like being a roadie for a dynamic singer-songwriter duo (imagine going on tour with Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell). George and Janet are so creative, so steeped in the literature of the Smokies region, and so attuned to all things Kephart that it was mesmerizing and magical to interact with them on a daily basis.

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  7. Back of Beyond, new Kephart biography from Great Smoky Mountains Association, invites readers to truly 'know the man'

    Back of Beyond book cover

    An icon of the Southern Appalachian region known for the seminal books Camping and Woodcraft (1906) and Our Southern Highlanders (1913), Horace Kephart was instrumental in efforts to establish the Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

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  8. Science at Sugarlands: Grassy Balds

    Grassy Balds

    Mysterious and haunting, Southern Appalachian grassy balds have long fascinated scientists and hikers alike. How many balds are there in the Smokies? How did they evolve? How do they support rare plants? Can balds be found in other parts of the world?

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  9. Behind the scenes with PLA award winner Susan Sachs

    Susan Sachs

    By Frances Figart

    If you have followed GSMA news this year, the name Susan Sachs will be familiar. We nominated her for an Agency Leadership award through the Public Lands Alliance—and she won!

    Promoted last year to education branch chief, Sachs is currently acting chief of resource education. Her award recognizes a public land management agency employee for outstanding accomplishments by championing, cultivating and leading partnerships. We asked her to tell us some of the background that led up to this outstanding recognition.

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  10. DLiA’s Science at Sugarlands Focuses on Fish Restoration

    Pat Rakes

    By Frances Figart

    Part of the mission of any national park is protecting and restoring species that were once native. Restoring native fish is an exciting area of Smokies science that goes unseen by those who are not swimming or snorkelling in park waters.

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