By Sherrie Norris
Who doesn’t love to spend time on the Blue Ridge Parkway? This coming Saturday, April 21, you have a chance to not only drive on the historic scenic route, but you also have the opportunity to help maintain the beauty of its campgrounds that attract thousands of visitors to the area each year.
In its inaugural Project Parkway Campground Cleanup, The National Park Service is inviting area residents to be part of a volunteer effort, along with parkway staff, to help clean up and beautify the eight parkway campgrounds prior to their May opening.
It’s all part of National Park Week, and according to a press release from the park service —one that has fast gained momentum via social media — the goal of this first-ever event will bring together those who love the parkway for a one-day project to take care of much-needed clean up and repairs to the campground areas. It will also provide an added opportunity for individuals, families, civic organizations and others to learn more about the park through the hands-on service project.
According to the press release, each location will provide tasks appropriate for a wide range of ages including students, scout troops, civic organizations, visitors, families and retirees. The needed projects will include anything from leaf blowing and limb clearing to painting or basic trail work.
Tools and safety gear, including gloves and high visibility safety vests, will be provided at each work site.
At most locations, the projects will begin at 9 a.m. and last until noon. Each project will be followed by lunch with staff, provided by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“It is support in the form of partnerships and donations of time by those who love the parkway that make projects like this one possible,” said park Superintendent J.D. Lee. “ We are excited to meet new parkway enthusiasts and proud to have the support of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation on this special day.”
Anyone interested in participating may contact Project Manager, Natalie Lester, at 828-348-3419 or BLRI_Volunteers@nps.gov.
About National Park Week:
National Park Week is an annual celebration of National Parks held each year in late April. The observance is dedicated to raising awareness of our national parks and the many opportunities for exploration, service and learning that are provided in our nation’s 417 national park units. To learn more about National Park Week Opportunities in your area visit: www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/national-park-week.htm .
About the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the primary nonprofit fundraising partner of the Blue Ridge Parkway, helping ensure cultural and historical preservation, natural resource protection, educational outreach, and visitor enjoyment now and for future generations. Since its inception in 1997, the nonprofit has worked with donors to invest in critical projects along the scenic road. For more information, visit www.brpfoundation.org.
About Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the primary partner in volunteerism of the Blue Ridge Parkway. For 30 years, FRIENDS has worked with volunteers and community groups to help maintain Parkway assets. Today, volunteers work on nearly all facets of the Blue Ridge Parkway to preserve the intricate natural environment and visitor amenities along the Parkway. www.friendsbrp.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. www.nps.gov/blri