Parkway conservation project earns national recognition
The Blue Ridge Parkway has received the 2023 Byway Organization Award for Viewshed Improvement from the National Scenic Byway Foundation in recognition of the massive conservation project at Waterrock Knob that will transfer more than 5,200 acres into National Park Service ownership.
The award, presented to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, is one of the National Scenic Byway Foundation’s eight national awards presented annually.
The Blue Ridge Parkway and its partners celebrated the land acquisition in 2016 and again in 2022 as the arduous process of officially transferring the property to National Park Service ownership neared completion, but for some parcels that process is still ongoing. One finalized, the land transfer will add more than 8 square miles to Blue Ridge Parkway lands, conserving rare, high-elevation species and natural communities, miles of creek and scenic views along more than 8 miles of the Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation submitted its award application to help recognize and thank other partners who did the lion’s share of the work at Waterrock Knob — the landowners, land trusts and donors. The Conservation Fund, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy secured millions of dollars of cash and in-kind donations over more than 30 years to carry out the Waterrock Knob project. Simultaneously, these groups have protected tens of thousands more acres at many additional locations along the Parkway.