The Board of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has unanimously approved over $740,000 in funding to the Blue Ridge Parkway for 2013 projects and programs. These projects and programs cover a range of initiatives, including children’s education, projects to enrich the visitors’ experience, and preservation of historic, cultural and natural resources along the length of the Parkway. Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis says "The Parkway and Foundation staffs have worked closely together to create a good list of projects that are badly needed by the Parkway during this difficult budget time. We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful supporters of the Parkway who come here year after year with their families and friends. We hope they know that we are very grateful to them for their support, and hope they will come see us again this year!"
Over $600,000 of the funding is for projects that are critical or are already in process, and these funds have been committed to the Parkway for 2013. The remaining projects will only be undertaken if external funding from grant sources, companies or private donations can be found to help offset the costs.
Committed projects for 2013 include:
• Continued funding of the Parks as Classrooms initiative for the 2013-2014 school year. arks as Classrooms is the Blue Ridge Parkway’s outreach program to children, instilling values of Parkway protection to students in all 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties that border the Parkway. Last year over 27,000 students were reached through this program.
• Graveyard Fields Enhancement project. The Graveyard Fields project is a collaborative effort with the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to improve visitor use and stewardship of this highly trafficked area, and will expand the parking, construct a convenience station and improve the trails and interpretive signs. The Scenic Byways grant to fund this project has been approved, and the Foundation will be providing the matching funds required to complete the project.
• Completion of the Abbott Lake Trail Accessibility project. Funding will allow completion of an existing project to address accessibility through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and trail improvements. The trail around Abbott Lake was upgraded to be fully accessible last year, and this year, a fishing and viewing platform will be built across the lake from the Peaks of Otter Lodge.
• Restoration of the Heart Pond at Bass Lake. This heart-shaped pond connects to Bass Lake on the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The wall will be rebuilt to historical details, and the pond will be drained, dredged, repointed and restocked with trout as was historically done. The project was begun last year and will be completed this spring.
• Music Programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center. This year, the Foundation will be scheduling, financing and administering the music program at the Blue Ridge Music Center. This includes Mid-day Mountain Music which is performed every day during the season, and the weekend concert series.
Projects which will require additional funding to make them a reality include:
• Construction of Stone Water Fountain Replacements. In 2012, the Foundation funded a project to design easily maintainable replacements for the historic stone water fountains found along the Parkway. This year, two of the new fountains will be constructed and installed.
• Replacing damaged and worn Interpretive Wayside panels. Many of the interpretive panels along the Parkway are missing or damaged. Sixteen of these will be replaced this year at locations all along the Parkway.
• Rehab at the Mount Pisgah Campground. Parkway staff will oversee volunteers conducting repair work on campsites designed to stop erosion and flooding by improving the drainage systems.
• Price Lake Trail Accessibility. Nearly one mile of the existing accessible trail around Price Lake will be restored to meet accessibility standards. Volunteers will assist in building a boardwalk across Laurel Creek, replacing existing planks and a substandard bridge.
To see the full list and find out more information, please click here. To make a donation, please click here.
Hiking in the Smokies