Strong sales of Smokies plates support Park programs

In 2010, more than $418,000 was raised for the Friends of the Smokies from the purchase of specialty licenses plates.

In 2010, more than $418,000 was raised for the Friends of the Smokies from the purchase of specialty licenses plates.

In 2010, more than $418,000 was raised for the Friends of the Smokies from the purchase of specialty licenses plates. The distinctive orange and purple plates feature a mountain panorama and the money raised helps meet many important needs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Some of the projects made possible by the plate revenues this year include environmental education for Tennessee schoolchildren, conservation of the native black bear population in the Smokies, preservation of historic Park buildings, and programs promoting visitor safety and enjoyment.

Of the extra $35 annual fee for the specialty tag, $31 goes to Friends of the Smokies to help with Park needs. Launched in 1997, the license plate has now raised more than $6.2 million.

“Whether it’s combating destructive invaders like the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, or providing top-quality educational opportunities for tens of thousands of area students, the Friends consistently makes a huge difference in what the Park can accomplish every year,” Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said. “The sale of the Friends tag in Tennessee has provided the core funding for these initiatives and many more.”

Friends of the Smokies is an official not-for-profit park partner organization working to preserve, protect and provide for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies plate is available any time from any local Tennessee County Clerk’s office or on the website of the Tennessee Department of Safety.

All Tennessee drivers who buy or renew a Friends of the Smokies plate are encouraged to sign-up on the Friends website to receive the organizational newsletter. More information is available online at www.friendsofthesmokies.org or by calling 1-800-845-5665.

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