As the CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, never has it been clearer to me the importance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is so much more than a road. It is one of the most biodiverse places in the temperate world. It is a living history museum protecting and telling the stories of Appalachian culture, music, and life. And as a recent study just reported, it is once again No. 1 in the country as an economic engine for the communities along its corridor.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is gearing up to launch an expanded study using remote wildlife cameras. Last year, our donors provided funding for 30 cameras. Over the next several years, park staff plan to set up cameras at sites along the entire 469-mile route to assess the distribution of wildlife and look at how human activities affect where the wildlife live and roam.
Dr. Ray Russell (President of RaysWeather.com, creator of BRPWeather.com, and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Appalachian State University) is running the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. He started his journey on May 17 at the north end near Waynesboro, Virginia, and is covering roughly 20 miles per day.
In 2013, the Foundation took over musical programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center to help preserve the history and culture inherent in Blue Ridge Music. The venue is a wonderful spot along the Parkway to hear local, regional, and national acts play old-time, bluegrass, country blues, gospel, Americana and folk and explore the the Roots of American Music Museum.
Signs of spring mean the Music Center will soon reopen for visitors to experience the heritage of mountain music. Beginning Saturday, May 7, the visitor center and Roots of American Music exhibit will be open and Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Congratulations to Scott Ramsey, who won first place in the Blue Ridge Parkway category of the 13th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition on March 19. His image "Picnic Under the Stars" captured the Milky Way above an iconic Parkway picnic table at Waterrock Knob, milepost 451.
Have you ever wondered who clears downed trees after storms or opens up vistas along the 469-mile route? In 2014, the Husqvarna Group of Charlotte, N.C., generously donated $10,000 in chainsaws and other equipment to the Park Service for use in clearing trees after severe weather events and preserving views at overlooks. There was one hitch, the team didn’t have a good way to transport the equipment to where it was needed. So last year, the Foundation began raising funds to supply a trailer to travel with the team.
Signs of spring are finally breaking through winter’s cold grip, and the National Park Service has announced the Parkway’s 2016 opening schedule and hours of operation. Time to start planning your Parkway getaways.
Here’s a quick rundown.
After the gray and white landscape painted by winter, spring brings a great sense of renewal to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The diverse blooms, ranging from delicate to bold, that herald the season’s arrival are one of many reasons to hit the road and explore the trails for wildflower sightings amid the vibrant landscape.
We’d like to send out a big thanks to everyone who attended the Foundation’s reception at Hotel Roanoke on March 16. More than 60 people enjoyed drinks, bites and a fascinating presentation by landscape architect David Hill, principal author of A Neighbor’s Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hill shared insights behind the design of the Parkway, from its masonry to the vistas, and tips for blending neighboring homes, buildings and landscapes into the overall picture of the scenic route.
The Town of Blowing Rock is moving forward with a plan to connect its charming downtown with Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Upon completition, visitors will be able to reach Bass Lake via a new sidewalk. Recently, the N.C. Department of Transportation approved an agreement to provide $987,956 of the $1.22 million project cost.
We've got exciting news! Moses H. Cone Memorial Park has been named a 2016 Centennial Challenge project. That means the Foundation, with your help, is getting a running start on a multiyear fundraising effort to repair and rehab the historical estate in the High Country of North Carolina. The Centennial Challenge program, designed to address needs in all National Parks, will provide financial support to update the fire suppression system at Flat Top Manor. We're raising $411,000 for the project with a match of nearly $300,000 from Congress. But this important project is just the start.
As we hunker down for the thick of winter, it’s easy to think of the Blue Ridge Parkway and say “see you in the spring, old friend.” But the cooler months bring the opportunity to experience the ribbon of road anew.
Winter is a stark and lovely contrast to fall, when visitors flock to the route to witness the fiery displays of autumn color. This is the season to see the landscape without the regalia—a breathtaking glimpse of nature at rest, giving those who call the mountains home a chance for a soulenriching experience.
With the help of the National Park Service, donors, sponsors, and volunteers, the Blue Ridge Music Center experienced another fantastic season in 2015. More than 35,000 patrons visited the Blue Ridge Music Center to explore the Roots of American Music exhibit, listen to Midday Mountain Music, and plan their Parkway journey at the Visitor Center during the May through October season.
This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, but in 1972 crowds observed another centennial: the establishment of Yellowstone as the country's first national park. That's right. The first park preceded the National Park Service, which was established in 1916 to protect the 35 national parks and monuments then managed by the Department of the Interior and those yet to be established.
Inspiring the next generation of stewards is vital to the future of the Blue Ridge Parkway and all parks. The Foundation helped provide opportunities for young people to make a difference on the Parkway and gain hands-on experience caring for natural resources.
Blue Ridge Parkway officials announce two tunnel repair projects occurring this winter to the north and south of the Asheville corridor. Both closures will be in effect from December 1, 2015 through spring of 2016.