Smokies Announces Extensive Vista Clearing Project Starting April 1st

Clearing will create the opportunity for better landscape photos at Smoky Mountain overlook areas.

Whenever the National Park Service has surveyed visitors
to Great Smoky Mountains National Park about their planned activities,
the number one response has always been “viewing scenery –
scenic views.” Over the years the number and quality of those scenic
viewpoints along Park roads has gradually declined. When Park roads were
constructed, the forests had been extensively logged and often burned in
pre-Park days, leaving unobstructed views in every direction, but 75 years
of forest recovery has resulted in many of the scenic overlooks becoming
obscured by maturing trees.
Over the next few months a Park contractor will be rolling back this
“natural clock” by reopening 34 of the most popular roadside vistas along
the Park’s main roads. Park officials say that this will be the first
major vista-clearing initiative in decades.
Acting Park Facility Manager, Charlie Sellars said, “We have
developed specific clearing prescriptions for every one of the 34 overlooks
scheduled for treatment. In each case we will have a Park staff person
assigned to guide the contractor in determining which trees should be
removed entirely and which will be trimmed or thinned.”
The Park’s goal in renewing its vista management program is to allow
the views to be maintained on a seven year cycle. To achieve this, the
contractor will apply herbicides to the stumps of the taller-growing tree
species to prevent their re-sprouting. At the same time, they will be
leaving the lower-growing or shrubby species, like rhododendron and
mountain laurel,  so that eventually these native
species will shade out and discourage the re-growth of the taller trees
with less work by Park crews.
Motorists can expect to see vista management under way from April 1
through August 1 along Newfound Gap Road, Clingmans Dome Road, the East and
West Foothills Parkway, the Gatlinburg Bypass, Rich Mountain Road, Roaring
Fork Motor Nature Trail, Lakeview Drive and Cataloochee Road. No roads are
expected to be closed to complete the work, but the overlooks being cleared
will be closed as needed to accomplish the work safely.  You can keep updated on scenic overlook closures by following @smokiephoto on twitter.  The clearing will provide better photographic opportunities for shooting unobstructed landscape photos from locations that are easily accessible to everyone.

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