Blue Ridge Conservancy Announces Wendy Patoprsty as New Project Director for the Middle Fork Greenway

Published Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 9:39 am
Patoprsty

Wendy Patoprsty is the new, full-time Project Director for the Middle Fork Greenway

Blue Ridge Conservancy is pleased to welcome Wendy Patoprsty to the team as the new, full-time Project Director for the Middle Fork Greenway.

Wendy moved to Watauga County in 2000 after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Georgia.  She started with Watauga County Cooperative Extension in 2001 as a grant funded Water Quality Technician and was hired as a Natural Resource Extension Agent in 2003.  In this position Wendy collaborated in community development projects including stream restoration, urban stormwater projects and community environmental education.  In 2014 Wendy received her Master’s degree in Geography from Appalachian State University.

“Being a part of Blue Ridge Conservancy is a dream come true for me,” said Patoprsty. “I am grateful for my 15 years of service working as the Natural Resource Extension Agent in Watauga and Avery counties as it gave me a great foundation for community development and environmental stewardship.  I am thrilled to work with the Middle Fork Greenway team to establish the greenway trail linking the Boone and Blowing Rock communities.  I believe this project is another step towards improving the quality of life for the residents and visitors of the High Country.  It is so exciting to visualize riding a bike safely down the Hwy 321 corridor while getting to experience the beauty of our mountain headwater streams.”

Ann Browning has served as the Middle Fork Greenway Interim Director for the past two and a half years.  Ann built tremendous momentum for the Middle Fork Greenway with her experience building the Carolina Thread Trail, a 15 county initiative to connect trails, open space and regional attractions in NC.  With Ann’s leadership and the dedicated Middle Fork Greenway Task Force, one mile of the greenway has been completed.  Ann’s involvement with the Middle Fork Greenway will continue as Blue Ridge Conservancy’s Board of Trustees President.

The Middle Fork of the New River Greenway will connect the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock with about 7 miles of trails.  The path will follow along the Middle Fork of the New River, rising in Blowing Rock and flowing north to Boone, where, joined by the East Fork and Winkler’s Creek, it empties into the South Fork of the New River.  The greenway is landscaped with native trees, shrubs, and grasses that absorb rainwater runoff, filter pollution, trap sediment, shade and stabilize streambanks, and ultimately improve water quality.  These benefits to the environment and the community will lead to a stronger economy by increasing property value, promoting eco-tourism, and expanding opportunities for established and new businesses.

Wendy plans to integrate her experience with the cooperative extension with the development of the Middle Fork Greenway to protect the natural resources along the Middle Fork of the New River for future generations to enjoy.  She is confident that the project will ultimately be a success due to the incredible outpouring of support from local businesses, residents, the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, Watauga County, NC DOT, and a multitude of agencies, funders, and non-profits.

A $168,750 donation by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina provided the matching funds for a $196,192 grant received by Blue Ridge Conservancy from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The combined funds will be used to purchase a 12 acre tract along approximately two-thirds of a mile of the Middle Fork of the South Fork New River, enabling an extension of the existing greenway and the connection of two pocket parks.  Funds to construct the greenway on the 12 acre tract are being pursued. Once the trail is constructed, almost two miles of the 6.5 mile greenway will be completed. Other current priorities for the MFG include securing funding to complete construction on the Chestnut Ridge and National Park Service properties near Blowing Rock and advancing the Boone section through the Wellness District to connect to the Boone Greenway.

About Blue Ridge Conservancy

BRC is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization incorporated in North Carolina. BRC has protected over 18,500 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.  In addition to protecting working farmland, BRC’s efforts have resulted in the creation of state natural areas like Beech Creek Bog, Bear Paw State Natural Area and Bullhead Mountain. We continue to help Elk Knob State park expand its borders and established Pond Mountain Game Land in Ashe County.  More information about Blue Ridge Conservancy is available at www.blueridgeconservancy.org.

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