KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a step closer to getting a new piece of valuable equipment.

The Great Smoky Mountains Association raised $300,000 for the national park to help replace its radio communications systems. The new radio system will allow the park to improve and expand communications with surrounding communities.

The system is crucial during emergencies like severe weather and search and rescue operations because it allows for communication in and around the park. The replacement as a whole will cost $2.5 million and the Friends of the Smokies have been raising money since 2017.

The Great Smoky Mountains Association raised the money for its contribution through the park’s eight retail stores, which are operated by GSMA. When an item is bought at any of these stories, buyers are presented with the option to round up their totals or add an extra dollar to support the national park through GSMA’s register donation program.

“We are so grateful for the support of our partners and donors who helped us secure the necessary funds to make these critical infrastructure improvements,” said Alan Sumeriski, acting superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Since its creation in 1953, GSMA has provided more than $47 million to park. The nonprofit was founded to support the scientific, historical and interpretive activities of the Smokies by providing educational products and services to park visitors.