Following a four-month suspension of sales, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles this week began reissuing “Friends of the Smokies” special license plates.
Legislation recently passed by the General Assembly required that the plate be redesigned when supplies ran out last October. NCDMV worked with the Friends of the Smokies foundation to approve the redesign. Under the new requirements, the plate must have a standardized format that allows the plate number to be “easily read by the human eye and by cameras installed along roadways as part of tolling and speed enforcement,” but a segment of the plate can have a “unique design,” according to the legislation.
With more than 20,000 on the road, the Friends of the Smokies bear plate is one of the most popular specialty license plates in North Carolina. Of the extra $30 annual fee for the specialty tag, $20 goes to Friends of the Smokies to support a variety projects and programs in the North Carolina portion of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, bringing in over $430,000 in 2011. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in America, and one of the few that does not charge an entrance fee.“Every year, our plate buyers make a significant impact in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Friends North Carolina Director Holly Demuth. “They help deliver Parks as Classrooms programs to thousands of North Carolina school kids, and support the protection of the Smokies’ black bears and elk, to name a few.”
The new design carries many of same features as the original plate including a black bear and green mountains. The foundation uses proceeds from sales of the plate for education, preservation and capital improvements to the North Carolina portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
North Carolina currently offers about 165 special plates to the public. These plates may be ordered at local license plate agencies throughout North Carolina or online at the DMV website.