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Greetings friends,

This month, I am excited to share new milestones with you regarding important progress and innovative programs on our second campus property in Townsend.

In early February, we received approval from the Blount County Board of Zoning Appeals to proceed with our campus development. The property zoning, historically zoned as residential, lists a certain number of permitted special use exceptions. We applied and received approval to operate under a special use for our residential programs and education services. This is a major milestone, and gives us the green light to move forward with our plans for a world-class campus.

Additionally, we’ve hit another milestone in restoring the land, specifically the meadow area. The Tennessee Division of Forestry completed our third prescribed burn in the fields which is helping to restore native grassland habitat and promote growth from native seeds stored underground.

We also hosted a new program in partnership with Equinox Environmental and graduate students at the University of Tennessee’s School of Landscape Architecture, pictured above. About 25 students and faculty spent time at Tremont learning about our mission and our education programs. They explored our Walker Valley campus, observing the landscape and searching for salamanders, and learned all about the Living Building Challenge and our second campus designs. The next day they explored our second campus property, taking inspiration from the stories of the land. In early March, the group will reconvene to design landscape projects for our second campus around the themes of wildlife corridors, carbon sequestration, and water management strategies. This program, the first of its kind, demonstrates the new educational opportunities our second campus brings- even before construction begins!

I’m so happy to have you as a part of our journey toward Building a Better Future, and I look forward to sharing in many more “firsts” on our second campus!

Catey McClary
President & CEO
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont