Whenever you visit Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park (SMLSP). Park manager Brian Heft counts on this group for their valuable support throughout the year.
In 2014 the Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park celebrated the arrival of their new tour boat
Park manager Brian Heft with members of the Friends of SMLSP at a reception they hosted to celebrate the dedication of the new tour boat
Whether it's hosting a reception for visiting dignitaries, or weeding the butterfly garden, members of this Friends group are up to the task.
Just some of the contributions this group provides are:
- Financial sponsors of our Junior Ranger program, including printing cost of Junior Ranger booklets
- Financial contributions to interpretive programs
- Volunteer staff at Discovery Center during summer season
- Sponsors and presents events throughout the year, including:
Music in the Park during summer, featuring bluegrass, cloggers, and concessions in the beach pavilion
Aspiring Anglers Fishing Tournament
The Winter Lecture Series, which features experts in various fields
- Assist in trail maintenance and landscaping at Discovery Center
- Purchased toddler play equipment for the playgrounds
- Provides drivers for hayride program during summer
- Provides support and assistance for various special functions held at park
- Assists with the park’s osprey camera program
- Volunteer time to numerous interpretive programs
- Used and new children book sales
- Trails day once a week where they work on park trails
- Assist staff with the annual managed deer hunt in the park
- Members contribute thousands of hours service each year
Music in the Park is a Friends sponsored program held in summer at Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Friends president Dave Gearhart presents keys to the new tour boat donated to the park by the Friends of SMLSP
"Our ship has come in"
In 2014, the Friends of SMLSP achieved their greatest accomplishment to date, when they were able to donate a specially constructed "tritoon" tour boat to the park. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends, the boat will be available to provide educational tours to park visitors, including school groups and others who might not have access to the lake otherwise.
Beginning with a grant from Appalachian Power Company, the Friends of SMLSP solicited donations to cover the full price of the $60,000 craft. The Friends' boat committee worked tirelessly to ensure that the boat would meet all safety standards and be sufficient to carry 15 passengers. Already the boat has been used to present a hands on environmental education program for a local school group, and the Friends anticipate that regular programs will be offered in spring and summer.
How they started
According to park manager Brian Heft, there are a couple of different stories of how the group started, but as he recalls:
"In the early 90’s times were tight. We were a day use park with a campground so when the budget was cut yet again we closed the Discovery (visitor at that time) Center area in the off-season. Ray Haymaker came to me and wanted to know what could be done to keep one of the most beautiful areas of the lake open.At the time we were focusing efforts to develop CSO’s so my answer was to help us develop a Friends group.They did and it took off from there. Ray was quite a guy."
For more information about click here
For more information about the Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park, programs offered, or membership in the organization, click here.
WE ARE SO THANKFUL FOR THE MANY VOLUNTEERS AT VIRGINIA STATE PARKS