With summer quickly approaching, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is anticipating the busiest time of year. No one understands the hustle and bustle better than the volunteers, law enforcement and custodial staff, park officials said.
More than 200 hikers visited Hensley Settlement last weekend and had the opportunity to enjoy hard work put in by park volunteer crews.
“This time of year, as a national park, a lot of what we do is anticipating a heavier flow of visitors on holidays and weekends. We didn’t have that many people here a few months ago so we didn’t have the need that we have now,” said Park Ranger Scott Teodorski.
Staffing and volunteer increases make the necessary campground cleanups and educational, demonstration and naturalist talks possible.
“We have an awesome group of volunteers here at the park. This weekend we had at least one volunteer per mile throughout the park checking back country campsites and they make the exciting summer stuff possible,” said Teodorski.
Park volunteers have been maintaining trails and readying them for hikers as well as monitoring wildlife changes within the park including a heightened awareness of the bear population in the park and surrounding areas.
“There’s not much out there for them to eat and because of that we’re anticipating they’re going to come out this year. There’s a potential for them to get into people’s trash more now than ever,” said Teodorski.
Be Educated and Responsible Stewards (BEARS) is a local campaign which aims to remind people about bear safety. Because there was less food for the bears to store, there was less for them to eat going into winter hibernation.
The BEARS objective will be spreading the word throughout the Tri-State about important safety tips with wildlife and how to properly take care of waste.
More information about BEARS, trail maps or a tour schedule can be found by visiting the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cuga.
Kelsey Gerhardt may be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardt.