BRYSON CITY, N.C. — Park rangers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park got a sweet letter after a young girl took a rock home from the park.
The girl, named Karina, wrote in her letter that she loved visiting Tom Branch Falls and wanted a souvenir.
Karina picked up a rock, but when she got home, she realized that the rock should go back where it came from.
“I’m sorry, and I want to return it,” she wrote. “Also, here’s a donation!”
The girl included a hand-drawn map of the waterfall as a guide for rangers to put the rock back.
The rangers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park shared the letter on Facebook Saturday, writing, “Thank you so much for returning the rock! It has made its way back to Tom Branch Falls. We are so glad you enjoyed your visit. Already, you are becoming an amazing steward for the park.”
The rangers also included a photo of Karina’s rock back at Tom Branch Falls.
According to the park, it’s important that visitors don’t take rocks when the visit because “if every visitor took a rock home, that would mean 11 million rocks would be gone from the park each year!”
Those rocks provide homes from small creatures, like salamanders, and leaving those rocks can help protect their habitat.
“Now that you know to leave nature the way you find it, we hope you will help share this message with others,” the rangers told Karina. “It is always a good thing to give another the chance to discover!”