Great Smoky Mountains Association
The purpose of Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) is to help the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Through sales, labor, donations, and volunteer efforts, GSMA provides the National Park Service with additional tools for fulfilling its mission.
Great Smoky Mountains Association is a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to support the Park's educational, scientific, and historical programs. Its mission is to enhance public enjoyment and understanding of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
To accomplish this goal, GSMA participates in a variety of activities that include: distribution and publication of educational books and guides, funding visitor center exhibits and artifact collections, sponsoring free historic demonstrations and festivals, funding the Park's library, and helping fund the environmental education program at the Institute at Tremont. Since its creation in March 1953, GSMA has contributed aid to the Park total over $30 million, including the entire three million in construction costs for the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, opened in April 2011.
Publications, sales, and membership dues sustain these operations. Revenue from online purchases go directly toward accomplishing this mission.
"Great Smoky Mountains Association supports the perpetual preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the national park system by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation through education, interpretation, and research."
The Smokies is most-visited park in the US, at 10 million visitors per year. It is also the only national park that is forbidden by law from charging an admission fee, so the earnings of GSMA are critical to maintaining this national treasure. Other large famous national parks have many millions fewer visitors per year and are able to generate many millions of dollars more revenue per year than Great Smoky Mountains National Park can.
Membership in Great Smoky Mountains Association helps offset this very substantial cash shortfall to the Park. Members of GSMA receive benefits that include: a subscription to the Association's newsletter, The Bearpaw; a subscription to the award-winning byannual Smokies Life magazine; a discount on books and other items; a subscription to the park's quarterly newspaper, The Smokies Guide; participation in the Association's annual members weekend, spring and fall day-hikes; and other special programs and entertainment events.