Our 2018 TNPS Annual Conference was held March 30 to April 1, 2018 at the Talley Ho Inn in Townsend, Tennessee on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains. The weather was chilly Friday night and early Saturday, but blossomed into a beautiful spring day. The TNPS Board meeting was held on Friday afternoon, followed by a Mix and Mingle, then dinner.
On Friday evening Rob Klein, Fire Ecologist for the Great Smoky Mountains NP, spoke on "The Role of Fire in the Great Smoky Mountains: Past and Present Perspectives." He reviewed the history of fire in the Smokies and the role it has played in shaping the land and vegetation over time. The sustained high winds that pushed the fire of November 2016 into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were what turned the fire into a disaster. Fire is a normal part of the Smokies ecosystem.
Three choices of hikes were available for Saturday. Dennis Horn led a large group up the Chestnut Top Trail. Susan and Allen Sweetser led two hikes up Schoolhouse Gap Trail. And Margie Hunter and Mac Post led two hikes up West Prong Trail. Lots of spring wildflowers were already blooming with many more in bud.
On Saturday evening we held our General Business Meeting and then Margie Hunter gave an animated talk about "The Smokies on Foot: 1,244 Miles and Counting". Margie has now hiked all but one of the park trails plus a large section of the Appalachian Trail. She provided an overview of what can be seen from the trails, the accommodations that may or may not be available, and a look at the vegetation of different elevations.
Since this was Easter weekend, some folks chose to leave early while many stayed for breakfast before heading home.
Next year our annual meeting will be held at Reelfoot Lake in July, where we will have an opportunity to view wetland plants. We will provide more information as details become available.