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Smokies plates celebrate milestone

Twenty years after the program launched, drivers in Tennessee and North Carolina have passed the $15 million mark in support to Friends of the Smokies through specialty license plate sales. 

“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the banks of the mighty Mississippi, there are generous people who support this national park with our specialty license plates,” said Tim Chandler, Executive Director and COO of Friends of the Smokies. “These plates provide meaningful and dependable support for the critical projects we fund in the Smokies.”

Plate revenues fund a variety of projects and programs in the park, including those related to the park’s black bear population. Last year, the plates also supported a new preventative search and rescue program, a coordinated volunteer effort to provide valuable information to hikers at trailheads about trail safety, difficulty and proper preparation before starting a hike. 

“We are heading into another busy year for the Smokies,” said Chase Pickering, Friends of the Smokies board member. “Visitation was at an all-time high last year, and that trend looks like it’s going to continue for 2019. It’s amazing to think you can do something as simple as getting a license plate to support your national park. Having a bear on the plate is just a bonus.”

The North Carolina Smokies plate was designed by Micah McClure. The Tennessee Smokies plate was designed by Kristin Williams. Plates are available at local license plate offices. www.bearplate.org

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