Recycling gets a boost in the Smokies

Thanks to a new recycling trailer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closer to its goal of diverting half of all its waste from local landfills compared to the 42 percent of park trash that currently is recycled.

Park visitors, volunteers, and employees can all make use of the new recycling trailer, which is located behind the Oconaluftee Ranger Station and very close to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The recycling trailer has separate bins for glass, paper, cardboard, aluminum and plastic.

Funding for the project is being made possible in part by an $8,000 grant from the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Additional funding was provided by the Swain County Community Foundation and proceeds from the Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park specialty license plate program.

“Our goal is to increase our waste diversion to 50 percent by 2010,” said Dale Ditmanson, Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “We sincerely appreciate all the people who are helping us achieve this goal.”

Project funds are also supporting promotional flyers announcing the new recycling trailer as well as bags for recyclable materials that will be given to prospective Junior Rangers. To qualify as a Junior Ranger, children ages 5 through 12 must each attend a ranger-led program and complete several activities, including litter pickup.

“The recycling bags will help our Junior Rangers learn about and practice resource conservation, while also promoting use of the new recycling trailer by park visitors,” said Ditmanson. “It’s truly a win-win solution.”

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park assists the National Park Service by raising funds and public awareness and providing volunteers for needed projects. Since 1993, the Friends organization has raised more than $14 million to support conservation, education, and other park priorities.

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