KODAK, TN – April 29, 2019 – Twenty years after the launch of the program, drivers in Tennessee and North Carolina have raised more than $15 million in support of Friends of the Smokies through specialty license plate sales. The iconic black bear is depicted on both states’ plates and contributes to their popularity on both sides of the mountains.
The Tennessee Smokies plate underwent a multi-year redesign and hit the roads in winter 2018. It features a silhouette of a black bear against the original orange and purple sunset design. Less than six months later, sales increased by 30% over the same time in the previous year. A black bear was added to the North Carolina Smokies plate in 2007 and sales have seen a steady increase since then, placing the Smokies plate among the most popular in the state with representation in all 100 counties.
Both specialty plates fund a variety of projects and programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including those related to the park’s black bear population. Last year, the plates also provided support for a new Preventative Search and Rescue program, a coordinated volunteer effort to provide valuable information to hikers at trailheads about trail safety, trail difficulty, and proper preparation before beginning a hike.
The Tennessee Smokies plate was designed by Kristin Williams.
For more information, visit www.BearPlate.org or stop by your local Tennessee County Clerk’s Office or North Carolina Vehicle and License Plate Office.
About Friends of the Smokies
Friends of the Smokies is an official nonprofit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has raised $65 million to support critical park programs in North Carolina and Tennessee. Discover and donate at www.FriendsOfTheSmokies.org.
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