Over the last several days I've posted a couple of blogs regarding concerns within the cycling community about the possibility of the Blue Ridge Parkway applying for National Historic Landmark status as a way of managing the parkway. The Adventure Cycling Association and the Virginia Bicycling Federation, and others, have expressed deep concern about the future of cycling on the Parkway as a result of this recommendation.
Last week Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent Phil Francis told Bicycle Retailer that "we’ve never had a discussion about limiting bicycle use as part of the GMP (draft management plan) process, not since I’ve been here." Francis also went on to say that "Our plan is to continue to welcome bicyclists; we are not planning to change our policy at all."
This afternoon Parkway officials published the following press release, clarifying their position, as well as some of the confusion being generated in some of these outlets:
The Blue Ridge Parkway was established for scenic driving and recreational purposes with a focus on the automobile. Over time, visitation trends have changed with an increased variety of uses, with both recreational vehicles and bicycles enjoying a scenic recreational experience. Both types of use have been accommodated on the Parkway. There is nothing in the General Management Plan (GMP) Preferred Alternative that precludes any existing uses from continuing, or precludes the consideration of new uses. There are many activities that occur on the Parkway - hiking, horseback riding, motorcycle use, running, bird watching - such uses are allowed where appropriate given resource protection and safety concerns. All uses of the Parkway motor road are currently and will continue to be managed under federal laws and National Park Service (NPS) policies.
The Parkway is National Register eligible because of its designed landscape, age, and contributing features and is world renowned as an example of rural Parkway design. NPS managers are required by law to manage eligible properties as if they were currently on the National Register of Historic Places. The historical significance of the Parkway motor road prism is based upon the design and spatial relationship of the travel lanes, grass shoulders, paved ditches, and cut and fill slopes. Keeping this relationship intact is critical to protecting the character and historic integrity of the Parkway, which NPS staff are charged with maintaining under the Organic Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and other NPS laws and policies.
Decisions about cultural and historic resources, like all Parkway resources and other day-to-day park management decisions, are dictated by NPS and Department of Interior (DOI) laws and policies, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, and other law and policy. The GMP provides overall direction for that management, but is designed to provide general guidancewhile allowing flexibility for management within the parameters of law and policy.