NATIONAL PARK — Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Keep Sevier Beautiful are hosting a volunteer opportunity to help pick up litter along the Spur, one of the most popular gateways to the park. The ‘Gateway to the Smokies Cleanup’ will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 30.
Over 10 million people travel this five-mile scenic roadway between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge each year to begin their visit to the park. Sadly, many motorists discard litter, food waste, and drink containers along the park road every day. Others irresponsibly contribute by allowing unsecured garbage and waste materials to blow out of their vehicles onto the roadway.
“When residents of the Smokies community and surrounding areas join forces to keep our business areas, local neighborhoods, scenic parkways and wild parklands litter-free and beautiful, we have a positive impact,” said Park Volunteer Coordinator Sheridan Roberts.
“We’re grateful for the support of all volunteers who help us with this effort, including members of the deeply committed ‘Save Our Smokies’ group.”
With increasing visitation trends, volunteer support and intentional efforts to become a litter-free community are critical for the protection of the scenic values and wildlife. Roadside litter presents a dangerous threat to bears and other animals who have a very keen sense of smell and are drawn to litter along the busy road corridor, putting the animals and motorists at risk.
Participants of all ages are welcome. Children must be with an adult. Participants will meet at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center (1011 Banner Road) at 8:45 a.m. to register, get supplies, and attend a safety briefing.
For this service event, all participants are required to maintain a safe distance from the road edge at all times. COVID-safe protocols will be in place and masks must be worn when six-foot spacing cannot be maintained between unrelated groups. All participants will be provided with safety vests, pickers, gloves, buckets, and hand sanitizer.