Smokies using fees, online reservations

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — There are changes to the backcountry reservation and permitting process for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Backcountry users no longer will be required to call the backcountry office to obtain reservations. They can be made online up to 30 days in advance. Permits also can be obtained online at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov.

The park will begin requiring a $4 per person, per night fee for backcountry camping.

Money from the fee will be used to expand the backcountry office hours and hire more staff for trip planning assistance by phone and in person.

And the park will expand its backcountry ranger presence.

Maine museum shows Homer, Hopper, Wyeth

ROCKLAND, Maine — Maine’s Farnsworth Art Museum is kicking off its 2013 exhibition season with a show featuring paintings, photos and sculptures by noted U.S. artists including Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth.

Beginning today, the Rockland museum will present “American Treasures: The Best of the Farnsworth Collection,” which celebrates Maine’s role in American art by displaying the best among more than 13,000 works.

Restoration begins on Pompeii’s fragile ruins

ROME — Work has begun to shore up Pompeii’s fragile ruins, following several collapses in the sprawling ancient Roman city.

The tourist attraction near Naples is chronically short of state funds. Helping pay for the latest work is more than $55 million in European Union funds. In 2010, rain led to collapse of a wall in Pompeii, and a frescoed building where gladiators prepared for battle crumbled into dust.

Wire reports