More than $700,000 in funds raised from license plates, gifts and grants will go toward projects and programs on the Blue Ridge Parkway this year in a list recently approved by the Parkway Foundation Board of Trustees. According to a recent National Park Service report, the Parkway generates over $900 million in tourist revenue and supports more than 12,000 jobs annually. This year’s projects include:
• Graveyard Fields Enhancement Project, mile 418: The Foundation plans to expand the parking lot, build a comfort station, improve the trails and install new interpretive signs through a Scenic Byways grant it is seeking. The Foundation plans to leverage private donations and support from the NPS and U.S. Forest Service to secure the grant.
• Stone Water Fountain reconstruction, parkwide: The Foundation will rebuild and replumb two of the Parkway’s historic stone water fountains.
• Preventing the spread of white-nose bat syndrome, parkwide: The Foundation will fund preventative measures to help keep the fungus causing this disease out of Parkway lands.
• Emergency Medical Services/First Responder classes for staff: Allowing NPS staff to maintain certifications and skills will improve medical response and pre-hospital care.
• Ecological restoration of high-priority wetlands, parkwide: Protecting several high-elevation wetlands along the parkway will maintain habitat for bog turtles and rare plants.
• Visitor Maps and Guide, parkwide: Each year, the Foundation prints 100,000 copies of the official park map.
• Parks as Classrooms, parkwide: The program, taught to more than 250,000 children last year, instills values of protection and preservation while satisfying national learning standards.
• Kids in Parks, parkwide: The program uses partnerships with Parkway and other local, state and federal trails to get kids and families active outdoors while building a generation of future park stewards.
www.brpfoundation.org or 866.308.2773.