Here’s the press release from Cataloochee Valley Tours:
Waynesville, N.C. – Cataloochee Valley Tours (CVT) is offering a special discount from now through the month of October to encourage visitors to support Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
The discount will take $20 off the total fare for two to five people who sign up for one of CVT’s eco-tours. Visitors will be provided with a Friends membership form and the opportunity to use their savings to join.
“I think Friends of the Smokies is wonderful, and they have done a lot for the Cataloochee elk reintroduction and the Elk Bugle Corps,” said Esther Blakely, CVT’s chief naturalist and CEO. “I wanted to give back—to benefit Friends on their 20th anniversary by offering a discount on my eco-tours and encouraging visitors to use that discount to join Friends and support Cataloochee, the elk and our gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
Blakely is also a member of the GSMNP volunteer Elk Bugle Corps and the Elk Interpretive Team, which gives presentations about the reintroduction of the elk.
Holly Demuth, Friends of the Smokies’ North Carolina director, said, “We’re very appreciative that Esther and Cataloochee Valley Tours are offering the discounts and encouraging visitors to become a Friend. It’s yet another way for us to realize our mission as we celebrate 20 years of service to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
Friends of the Smokies funding helped reintroduce elk to Cataloochee in 2001. Friends continues to bring in funds to help with wildlife management in the Valley and provide uniforms and materials for the volunteer Elk Bugle Corps and Bike Patrol, which assists with traffic control on the valley’s narrow roads.
Over 20 years, Friends of the Smokies has raised more than $40 million through contributions from individual members, foundations, and businesses large and small to help maintain Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a crown jewel of the national park system.
“I feel my tours provide a great avenue for generating new membership because my guests already have a deep appreciation for the park,” Blakely said.
Since 1993, the not-for-profit Friends of the Smokies organization has raised more than $41 million to help maintain Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a crown jewel of the national park system, including the establishment of the $4 millionTrails Forever endowment to improve Smoky Mountain hiking trails in perpetuity.