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BRP Foundation, NPS Announce New Centennial Challenge Projects, One at Moses Cone

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and National Park Service are teaming up for the 2017 Centennial Challenge program to address high priority needs at sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Humpback Rocks Farm (milepost 5.8), Sharp Top Shelter (milepost 86), Mabry Mill and Groundhog Mountain (mileposts 176 & 188), and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (milepost 294).

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (left) and Acting Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent John Slaughter speak with Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, during a visit to a past Centennial Challenge project site, the amphitheater at Mount Pisgah Campground, on Friday, August 25. Zinke visited the Blue Ridge Parkway on the 101st birthday of the National Park Service.

This year, Congress provided $20 million for projects across the country through the Centennial Challenge program. These funds will be matched by $33 million from more than 50 park partners to improve trails, restore buildings, and increase visitor access to parks. As the primary fundraising partner of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is raising $287,358 to be matched with Centennial Challenge Grants for a total impact of $747,000 toward critical projects.

“Our national parks span 12 time zones and attract more than 330 million visitors every year. This puts an incredible stress on the aging infrastructure at our parks and thanks to Centennial Challenge Grants and the generosity of public-private partners, we are able to distribute funds to rebuild our parks,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

“Using public-private partnerships to help address the deferred maintenance backlog remains a priority for the Department and the Trump Administration. Park infrastructure includes trails, signage, restrooms, lodges, roads, bridges and waterlines. These funds will help us continue to provide a world-class experience to visitors and ensure that these amazing places are around for future generations.”

Past Parkway projects selected for the grants include the rehabilitation of Abbott Lake Trail for handicap accessibility, upgrades at Mount Pisgah Amphitheater, and the restoration of historical structures at Johnson Farm.

“We are proud to work with the National Park Service for the third straight year to make the most of this matching opportunity,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “Thanks to donors and the Centennial Challenge program, we’ve seen many large projects move toward completion.” 

The 2017 Centennial Challenge projects were selected to preserve important historical sites and improve the experience for the millions of people who visit the Parkway each year.

“The Parkway projects awarded for this cycle of Centennial Challenge funding highlight some of the most iconic natural and cultural resources in this park. Completing these projects protects the resource and insures a new generation of visitors will be able to enjoy these special places,” said Acting Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent John Slaughter.

“The tradition of partnerships in the National Park Service, and specifically on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is strong. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s matching support of these projects allows us to accomplish needed work in a way that would not be possible otherwise.”

The 2017 Centennial Challenge projects are:

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Stone Wall Repairs (milepost 294, North Carolina) – Donors can ensure the restoration of signature stone walls found along carriage trails on the 3,500-acre country estate. This initiative is part of the Foundation’s larger restoration goals for the 3,500-acre country estate listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fundraising goal: $105,737

Humpback Rocks Farm Preservation (milepost 5.8, Virginia) – The historical structures at Humpback Rocks Farm provide the chance to experience pioneer life on a late 19th century farmstead. Without repairs to the buildings, Parkway travelers will lose the learning opportunities provided by the site. The project will rehabilitate Ramsey cabin, a chicken house, hog pen, root cellar, and spring house. Fundraising goal: $73,056

Sharp Top Shelter Rehabilitation (milepost 86, Virginia) – Sharp Top Shelter was built in 1858 as part of the Otter Peaks Hotel to provide rustic overnight lodging for guests willing to make the challenging hike to the summit. The stone building nestled among boulders is greatly deteriorated due to weather exposure and vandalism. With support, the building will be restored to enable interpretive opportunities and provide a safe shelter for hikers during inclement weather. Fundraising goal: $56,774

Mabry Mill & Groundhog Mountain Structural Repairs (milepost 176 & 188, Virginia) – With donor support, the Foundation will preserve and protect five historic structures surrounding MabryMill and the Groundhog Mountain picnic area. The shake roofs on four buildings will be replaced, as well as rotting logs in the historic cabins. Additionally, the leaking flume used to feed the mill’s water wheel will be repaired. These sites form an outdoor museum that helps interpret and preserve elements of early pioneer life in the region. Fundraising goal: $51,791

For more information and to give, visit www.brpfoundation.org/your-gifts-work.

About the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the primary nonprofit fundraising partner, 501(c)(3), of the Blue Ridge Parkway, helping ensure cultural and historical preservation, natural resource protection, educational outreach, and visitor enjoyment now and for future generations. The Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Since its inception in 1997, the nonprofit has worked with donors to invest more than $12 million in critical projects along the scenic road. For more information, visit www.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 route 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.