Friends of the Smokies today announced it will receive a $250,000 grant provided by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Great Smoky Mountains National Park qualified for the grant as one of the top nine most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks campaign.
Friends of the Smokies will apply the grant to help restore Clingmans Dome Observation Tower and will receive the grant by September 2016. Great Smoky Mountains National Park expects to begin work on the project in 2017.
“We are grateful for this opportunity which not only resulted in securing much needed funds, but also provided a great chance to share this unique feature of our park with so many people,” said Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson Dana Soehn.
“We are so thankful for the community support during this competition,” added Jim Hart, Friends of the Smokies’ president. “Our friends helped spread the word and their votes kept the Smokies among the top spots right from the beginning. We’re excited to put this grant money to work.”
A decade after its inception, Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative created to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places, honored the National Park Service Centennial by directing its efforts to historic sites within national park units in need of preservation support. Twenty different park sites with unique histories, reflective of the diverse communities and experiences that comprise our nation’s cultural fabric, participated in the campaign. The nine winning sites accumulated the most votes throughout the campaign, which was hosted by media partner National Geographic, from May 25 through July 5.
“We are thrilled with the response and support for Partners in Preservation: National Parks and are proud to be awarding $2 million in grants to extraordinary sites that tell the story of our national park system and reflect the rich cultural resources within it,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “The campaign received more than 1.1 million votes. We thank everyone who voted and applaud all participants of the campaign, as each helped further the public dialogue about the National Park Service’s preservation needs.”
“Partners in Preservation: National Parks has shone new light on the importance of rehabilitating historic resources in national parks and provided much needed funding to make them more accessible to visitors for years to come,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, President and CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “And through their participation in the campaign, more than 190,000 Americans have reaffirmed that these places matter – to our history, our nation, and our communities.”
“The Partners in Preservation program is an excellent example of the many ways private organizations have always been essential to the success and longevity of the National Park System,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “These grants will enable our parks to restore and preserve priceless historical features that make a visit to a national park so unique.”
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