ASHEVILLE — Just in time for the holiday giving season, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is announcing a matching grant for the organization’s new Trails & Views Forever Fund. An anonymous donor is offering a challenge grant of $300,000 to jump-start this initiative to repair trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, overlooks and other amenities on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
It is an all-or-nothing challenge grant, meaning donors must give a total of $300,000 by the deadline of June 30, 2020, or the gift will be forfeited.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to protect the places that connect us to the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Willa Mays, Chief Development Officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
Trails & Views Forever is a temporary fund to ensure that the Parkway’s recreational assets will be preserved. Working with National Park Service staff, the Foundation will develop a comprehensive plan to address critical needs first, and then implement a maintenance and restoration plan to improve the condition of trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, major vistas, and overlooks.
The plan will include a volunteer component, utilizing youth conservation groups, community members, and additional seasonal work crews.
The Trails & Views Forever Fund will address:
• Building and maintaining a world-class trail system on and near the Blue Ridge Parkway
• Restoration of iconic Parkway views by managing vegetative growth at overlooks
• Rehabilitation of picnic areas and campgrounds
• Volunteer engagement
• Enhancements of educational opportunities, signage, and restrooms
The overall goal for the fund is $3 million, with work to take place over the next five to eight years.
“The National Park Service is facing an astonishing price tag to repair all aspects of the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “Sadly, because there are so many needs, the care of Parkway trails, campgrounds, and overlooks is falling to the bottom of the long list of priorities.”
The Trails & Views Forever Fund will build upon the Foundation’s past work to protect recreational spaces on the Parkway, including the clearing of vegetation at roadside overlooks, the construction of boardwalks and restrooms at Graveyard Fields in the Haywood County section of the Parkway.
Donors who give $1,000 or more will receive a limited edition patch and their names will be listed on acknowledgement signs at key locations on the Parkway. Gifts can be made at BRPFoundation.org/trailsandviews.