With Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed and Great Smoky Mountains Association currently only able to sell interpretive books, magazines and other products online rather than in park bookstores, we are offering you a virtual magazine, Smokies LIVE, a blog posted daily on our web site and social media channels. Kicking it off is this important message from our Chief Executive Officer, Laurel Rematore.
Dear Smokies lovers:
I have been working for educational nonprofit partners of public lands for 20 years. In that time, I have often marveled at how the National Park Service has had to make hard decisions that cause short-term challenges—like closing access to some road or trail to a beloved area. The NPS makes these decisions as they do because they are in the forever business—their mandate is to protect our public lands in perpetuity, which often means imposing short-term inconvenience in order to ensure long-term preservation of the resource.
These are unprecedented times. I am heartened to see that our region and nation are moving more uniformly toward the measures the experts say we must take to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This morning GSMNP announced it would be fully closing the park for at least the next two weeks. Where I live, Gatlinburg attractions and businesses are closing, following the lead of many other areas. Our tourism-based economy is on pause.
Now it’s time to take a deep breath and figure out what’s next.
Because of our staff’s hard work, and thanks to you, our members and loyal customers, we entered this pandemic in a strong financial condition. As I write, various relief measures are moving through the national and state legislative processes that will inform decision-making at our organization level. Even while much remains unclear about our near future, we at GSMA know this: our staff are the lifeblood of our organization and we will do all within our power to protect our workforce.
Like the park, I envision GSMA continuing in perpetuity. We will honor our mission by adapting our business to these circumstances—and this new virtual magazine is part of that adaptation. We are an energetic and creative team of passionate, smart people. I am confident we will figure this out and emerge from the challenge stronger and wiser.
In the meantime, I encourage all of us to continue our healthy habits; to thank our grocers, bankers, first responders, and health care workers for all still being on their jobs; to stay in close touch with one another and with the park we love through Smokies LIVE; to be kind and supportive to others...and for goodness sake, to stop hoarding toilet paper.
GSMA Chief Executive Officer