Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces New Chief Ranger. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials tapped Lisa Hendy as the Park’s first female Chief Ranger. When she assumes her new position in April, Hendy will oversee employees in the Resource and Visitor Protection Division who perform law enforcement duties, wildland fire operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations, and staff the emergency communications center.
Hendy is well qualified for the job and brings a wealth of experience. She has served at several parks with complex ranger operations including Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Arches National Park, and Rocky Mountains National Park. She is currently the Chief Ranger at Big Bend National Park.
“Lisa has demonstrated incredible leadership in managing law enforcement, fire, and search and rescue operations at some of the nation’s busiest parks,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “She’s built strong programs by investing in local partnerships with neighboring agencies to help make areas safer for visitors and residents. She is going to be a great addition to the park’s management team.”
Healthy black bear returns home. Willow Bear returned to National Park by Appalachian Bear Rescue. Willow Bear (named upon arrival at ABR) was returned safely to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after several months of rehab at Appalachian Bear Rescue.
Willow arrived at the rescue facility on June 5, 2018, after a man from Cocke County discovered two cubs that had been hit by a car. After placing a call to ABR, the man waited at the scene for two hours hoping the cub’s mother would return. When she did not (and given the condition of the two small bears) he took them home. ABR contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, TWRA, which dispatched an officer who transported the cubs to the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine.
Unfortunately Willow’s sibling did not survive and doctors held out scant hope
for little Willow who was judged to be about four months old and weighed only 8.8 pounds. Willow was so unresponsive it seemed unlikely she’d survive the examination. But Drs. McEntire and Cushing, and their entire team were determined to try and save her.
Suspecting a skull fracture, the vets sent her for x-rays which revealed that at some point in her short life, Willow had suffered a broken rib, since healed. There was no evidence of damage to her skull and an ultrasound found no fluid in her abdomen. The doctors administered a saline solution to hydrate her…and almost immediately she was able to stand. Severe dehydration will often render a cub immobile and all it takes is fluid to revive them. The vets advised the curator they wanted to keep Willow overnight for observation.
This precaution proved unnecessary. The curator had no sooner arrived back at the facility when he got a call informing him that Willow was active and ready to relocate to ABR.
New Foothills Parkway Raises 2018 National Park Visitation. Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported 11,421,203 visitors in 2018. The 0.7% increase over 2017 is attributed to the opening of the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley in November. Nearly 200,000 visitors experienced this new park opportunity which resulted in record-setting visitation in both November and December.
“The new section of the Foothills Parkway is a spectacular scenic driving destination and we’re pleased that so many people have already enjoyed it,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We hope that people take the time to explore it across the seasons.”