Our History

The Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association is the original non-profit group formed in 1923 to create a national park in the Smokies and today continues working for the park’s interests.

The Association raised funds needed to buy lands for the park, through gifts and donations, and by gaining financial support from city and state governments. It sparked a publicity campaign in national media and hosted visits by state and national legislators to get the job done.

Today it provides services to the park which otherwise might be unmet. It has given funds for apprehension of poachers and vandals; for natural history studies and publications; park signs and markers; subsidies and loans for needed improvements.

The Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association has been recognized for it’s ongoing funding of two fellowships for research on natural resources in the park. The fellowships are named in memory of the late Carlos C. Campbell, renowned park advocate, and the late James T. Tanner, noted University of Tennessee ecologist and zoologist, both of whom were past secretaries of the Association.

Based in Knoxville, the association also offers recommendations for park policies, and assists in such projects as historical restorations and wilderness preservation.