The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is thrilled to announce it will provide $357,370 to match funding allocated by Congress to address critical repairs along the Parkway. Through the partnership, the Parkway will benefit from $710,035 in improvements. This support is in addition to the Foundation’s funding of critical projects announced earlier this year, and brings the nonprofit’s total impact on Parkway improvements to $1.25 million in 2015.
In 2016, the National Park Service is celebrating its Centennial. In preparation for the anniversary, Congress designated $10 million toward a competitive bidding process called the Centennial Challenge to make improvements in National Parks across the country. To qualify for this support, parks were required to identify a partner organization prepared to match any allocated funds. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation agreed to meet the challenge, and will provide $357,370 through fund-raising thanks to the nonprofit’s Community of Stewards. Of the 106 projects selected in this competitive nationwide process, the five listed below have been approved for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods describes this announcement as momentous. “These projects will not only help us reestablish high levels of public service in some areas with serious needs, they are a wonderful model for leveraging public and private funds to advance the Parkway in ways that would not be possible otherwise. Private, local support has been instrumental in the establishment of parks throughout the history of the National Park Service, and it will continue to be critical to the future success of parks and their mission of protecting the country’s natural and cultural resources for future generations.”
Every dollar awarded to the Parkway as part of this Centennial initiative will be matched by private donations through the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Carolyn Ward, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation CEO, states, “Our goal is to work hand in hand with the Parkway, providing financial support that ensures the protection of resources and a high quality experience for visitors now and long into the future. Because of this matching opportunity, Parkway supporters can double the impact of every dollar they donate through the Foundation, up to the promised match amount.”
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The 2015 Centennial Challenge projects on the Blue Ridge Parkway are:
Rehabilitate Abbott Lake Trail for Accessibility
Milepost 86 – This project will complete the repaving of the one-mile loop around the lake. Youth conservation crews will help clear vegetation in preparation for the paving project. The bridge nearest the Peaks of Otter Lodge will be converted from an arched to flat span. This spot, which welcomes more than 200,000 visitors each year, will be the first complete ADA trail along the Parkway in Virginia.
Repair and Restore Historic Polly Woods Ordinary
Milepost 86 – Polly Woods Ordinary, one the few remaining features of the 18th century settlement at the Peaks of Otter area, was an early destination for tourists. The Ordinary presents a glimpse of an early lodge and tavern which fascinates visitors given the size of the building and its remoteness. This historically significant structure has deteriorated greatly in the last few years and the repair and rehabilitation of the site will ensure continued use of and educational opportunities at the Ordinary for many years to come.
Replace Amenities and Repave Walkways at Price Park Campground and Picnic Area
Milepost 297 – When this project is complete, visitors will enjoy upgrades to a number of picnic tables, fire grills, and walkways at one of the Parkway’s most popular picnic areas and campgrounds. The project will repave the walkways and repair the poor condition of existing amenities at the site, improving the safety and overall experience for visitors. These areas are very popular due to scenic vistas and natural resources.
Rehabilitate Mount Pisgah Amphitheater
Milepost 408 – Since its construction in 1960, the amphitheater at Mount Pisgah Campground has seen few improvements. The facility is long overdue for new bench seats, upgrades to the electrical system, and ADA accessibility to allow all visitors enjoyment of interpretive programs and events, including campfire circles.
Repair and Restore Historic Structures at Johnson Farm
Milepost 86 – The historic structures at Johnson Farm provide unique insight into Appalachian farm life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors will lose the learning opportunities provided by the farm without repairs to the buildings. The project will rehabilitate and stabilize the historic farmhouse, barn, meat house, spring house, and corn crib at this highly visited site.
About the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the primary fundraiser and trusted steward of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Foundation is forever committed to preserving the past, enhancing the present, and safeguarding the future of America’s Favorite Journey®. The nonprofit is a strong defender of the Parkway, funding needed projects that enhance and protect the natural, cultural, historic, and recreational qualities that make the Blue Ridge Parkway an American treasure. For more information, visitwww.brpfoundation.org.
About the Blue Ridge Parkway
The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park to the north with Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south. The Blue Ridge Parkway travels the crests, ridges, and valleys of five major mountain ranges, encompassing several geographic and vegetative zones ranging from 600 to more than 6,000 feet above sea level. It provides visitors with many varied vistas of scenic Appalachian landscapes ranging from forested ridgetops and mountain slopes to rural farm lands and urban areas. The Parkway offers a “ride-a-while, stop-a-while” experience that includes scenic pullouts, recreation areas, historic sites, and visitor contact stations. It is known nationally and internationally for its designed landscape as a scenic motorway. Learn more about the Parkway at www.nps.gov/blri.