Bolstering rare plant populations. Archiving and sharing photographs of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s past. Revealing obscured views at overlooks. Repairs to a historic mill. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is asking donors to support these projects and additional initiatives that will enhance the scenic route and share its stories with millions of visitors.
Each year, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation works with the National Park Service to select projects that will connect visitors with the park’s natural wonders and history and sustain the park for generations to come.
This year, nature lovers can support the work of a plant nursery intern, which will allow the Parkway to nurture rare or declining plants, such as the Heller’s Blazing Star. Those fascinated by the history of the 469-mile route can donate to begin the process of digitizing thousands of historic Parkway photographs that will be made available to the public through an online archive. Donors can also create a lasting legacy by funding the replacement of the flume at Mabry Mill in Virginia, one of the most photographed sites on the Parkway.
“Those who love the Blue Ridge Parkway can truly be champions for this national park unit,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “Every gift, large and small, is an investment in a national treasure and a testament to the power of the Parkway experience.”
The costs of these projects range from $5,400 to continue the Bee Kind to the Parkway wildflower pollinator program to $600,000 to complete extensive repairs at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Donors are invited to give to the project that most reflects their passions or the overall protection of the Parkway. Gifts help determine which projects can move forward most quickly.
“On behalf of the National Park Service, it is a privilege to work with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to collaborate on these projects that protect park resources and meet important visitor needs,” said J.D. Lee, Parkway Superintendent. “This work represents the National Park Service mission at its core. Partners like the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation are key to helping others show their support of the Parkway and making a long-term impact in protecting this special place.”
Education and Outreach
Digitize historical photographs for online viewing
Parkway-wide | Goal: $25,000
The development of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its evolution over the decades are fascinating stories that are brought to life through photographs dating back to the initial days of construction in the 1930s. Thousands of images in the Parkway’s archives are not available for public viewing. This project will begin the process of organizing and digitizing historical park photographs to make them available online for the public to learn from and enjoy.
New exhibits at Waterrock Knob Visitor Center
Milepost 451 | Remaining goal: $31,300
Waterrock Knob is a majestic and captivating place, not only for its ecosystem but its history. The faded and outdated exhibits at the visitor center do not tell the compelling story of this landscape. Gifts for this project will fund dynamic exhibits to share details about the role of conservation in maintaining the pristine environment, Cherokee history and culture, unique biodiversity at the high-elevation site, the return of elk to the southern end of the Parkway and more.
Renew the Views
Parkway-wide | Goal: $60,000
The Renew the Views program restores line-of-sight for sweeping views at Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks. This project will mobilize highly trained National Park Service arborists to continue removing trees and overgrown vegetation obstructing long-range views. With 216 designated overlooks in North Carolina and Virginia, there are still many sweeping mountain landscapes left to be revealed again. This vista restoration effort is also an investment in the economic vitality of cities and towns all along the way. Most visitors cite the views as the reason for their Parkway visit, thus helping to boost local tourism.
Natural Resource Protection
Plant nursery intern
Parkway-wide | Goal: $20,000
The 80,000-plus acres that make up the Blue Ridge Parkway are home to more than 2,000 plant species. With public support, the National Park Service will offer a plant nursery internship designed to expand opportunities to protect threatened and rare native plants. The intern will assist park biologists in laying the groundwork for a plant nursery, including site selection, development of educational materials for visitors, and propagating plants found in the wild.
Bee Kind to the Parkway
Parkway-wide | Remaining goal: $5,400
Last summer, scientists with the Blue Ridge Parkway began re-establishing wildflower areas in the park to bolster populations of bees and other pollinators that contribute to the entire ecosystem. Citizen scientists collected and sorted native wildflower seeds and the soil was prepared for planting. Additional funding is needed to begin the planting process and conduct pollinator surveys to track the impact of this important Parkway-wide project.
Kids in Parks
Kids in Parks is a network of hiking, biking, paddling and disc golf trails outfitted with free activity guides for children and families. The mission behind these TRACK Trails goes beyond fun; the goals are to encourage kids to be physically active and help them build meaningful connections with nature. In turn, these goals help inspire the next generation of stewards who will care for all public lands, including the Blue Ridge Parkway. This year, Kids in Parks is celebrating a huge milestone: one million adventures using TRACK Trails. With a donation, supporters can continue to engage young people in the joys of the outdoors and the stewardship of public lands.