For the past 25 years, WBIR has teamed up with the Friends of the Smokies and Asheville TV station WLOS to host the Friends Across the Mountains Telethon to raise money for the national park. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that effort is going virtual.
During the week of Nov. 16, WBIR and WLOS will work together to raise awareness and money for Friends of the Smokies, a non-profit group that assists the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This year, Friends is hoping to raise $25,000 for a new fully equipped search and rescue vehicle as well as additional funds to support other critical park needs.
Since 1993, the Friends of the Smokies has raised $70 million dollars to help supports needs in the park. Here's a list of some of its fundraising accomplishments:
- Each year, the Park requests approximately $2 million from Friends for environmental education, trail maintenance, historic preservation, wildlife conservation, and more
- The biggest funding priority every year is “Parks As Classrooms” program which brings 20,000 K-12 students from Tennessee & North Carolina to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Friends of the Smokies is very proud of the $5 million+ Trails Forever endowment which funded the complete rehabilitation of Forney Ridge Trail, Chimney Tops Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, and is currently providing for ongoing improvements to Trillium Gap Trail
- Funding to protect and study black bears and elk ensures that park visitors will have the “wild” experience they look for when coming to the Smokies
- Preservation projects from Cades Cove to Cataloochee keep the park’s historic log cabins and churches a favorite destination for millions of visitors each year
- Friends of the Smokies raised $1.25 million match towards the $2.5 million upgrade of the Park’s emergency communications system