To the Editor:
We won! The vibrant green bear Friends of the Smokies specialty license plate has been rescued from extinction. The North Carolina legislature in the 11th hour voted to preserve the full color specialty license plate program.
A big Smokies bear hug thank you goes out to all the vocal citizens and legislators who spoke up on behalf of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On this issue, our western legislators banded together and stepped up to the tough fight.
Bear plates since their birth have raised $3.3 million for significant projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, like the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee. Those funds come in one license plate at a time with $20 going to the Smokies and $10 to state projects such as handicap accessibility at visitor centers.
To the 20,000-plus owners of Friends of the Smokies license plates — thank you for your continued participation over the years. Congratulations. You get to keep your plate, exactly as it is.
The more the merrier — join celebration and purchase your own bear license plate at a plate office or www.friendsofthesmokies.org.
Yes, we won. All of us: Full color plate owners. North Carolina causes. State coffers. Tourism development. Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our Smokies. And our bears.
North Carolina Director
Friends of the Smokies