Donations totaling $200,000 came in from 130 Watauga County businesses in 2019 during the 2nd year of the Round Up for the Middle Fork Greenway (MFG). Businesses participated by asking their customers to round up their purchase to the next dollar or give to a donation jar. Some businesses gave a percentage of their sales for the month or made a one-time donation.
These funds raised by our High Country community accomplished major milestones to keep momentum on the Middle Fork Greenway. The extraordinary response from local businesses inspired major gifts from the Wells Fargo Foundation and the BB&T now Truist Charitable Fund, both awarding $100,000 to the project and doubling the community’s impact. This $400,000 leveraged as a match for $430,000 from the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund that secured the money necessary to build another section of the greenway.
“The enthusiasm from the Round Up is creating a ripple effect and inspiring corporations and foundations to make large gifts to the Middle Fork Greenway,” said Middle Fork Greenway Director, Wendy Patoprsty. “They are so impressed when they see the list of businesses and individuals who are all rallied behind a project to strengthen the local community. It’s a wise investment for them, too.”
The Round Up for the Greenway began with inspiration from family-owned Appalachian Ski Mtn. (ASM), Brad Moretz and Brenda Speckmann, who saw the potential of our community coming together to get the greenway built. For the last 3 years, ASM added a $1 processing fee to every online transaction throughout the entire ski season for the Middle Fork Greenway which has already kick-started the 2020 Round Up for the Greenway.
Recently, community dollars were well spent on the finishing touches at the trailhead in Blowing Rock. The trailhead was officially unveiled on November 6, 2019, when the community gathered to experience all of its amenities including lighting, safety features, interpretive signage, customized bike racks, a covered pavilion, boulders and a parking area. The NC Department of Transportation and NC Division of Water Resources funded much of the construction and landscaping.
ZAP Endurance funds the majority of the Middle Fork Greenway administrative costs, so the money raised in the community goes directly to the development of the greenway trail.
The Anne Cannon Trust is honored on a bench at the trailhead for their recent 3 year pledge to the Middle Fork Greenway. The custom benches are all donated by Charleston Forge.
“The Anne Cannon Trust is committed to education and appreciation, and feel strongly that the Middle Fork Greenway will provide an excellent opportunity toward that end,” said Zach Tate of the Anne Cannon Trust.
The Greenway gains more ground
The acquisition of land for the development of the greenway is often considered one of the more challenging aspects of trail development.
Blue Ridge Conservancy purchased a critical 2.5 acre connection in 2019 to extend the existing Sterling Creek Park south toward Blowing Rock. Funding for this project came from Round Up for the Greenway proceeds and the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
The Whitener family donated a remaining 0.20 acre connector tract between the Park and the new acquisition to complete the link for the greenway. The Whiteners are longtime supporters of the Middle Fork Greenway who donated their land to create Sterling Creek Park.
“Every day we are getting closer to seeing more on the ground progress. It’s hard to put a timeframe on the finished greenway trail because there are so many external factors that need to coalesce for it to go to construction. We are partnering with diverse funding and landowner partners, including NC DOT, the State of NC, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Park Service to receive authorization and funding to move forward,” said Wendy Patoprsty.
The Middle Fork Greenway is an emerging multi-use trail that will connect Blowing Rock to Boone, providing residents and visitors of all ages safe and healthy access to the natural world while protecting the environment and strengthening our local economy. The Middle Fork Greenway is a Blue Ridge Conservancy project in partnership with the Town of Blowing Rock, Town of Boone and Watauga County. Visit www.middleforkgreenway.org to learn more.
Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) is a local, nonprofit land trust dedicated to conserving natural resources in northwest North Carolina. BRC has conserved over 21,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.
BRC’s efforts have resulted in the protection of scenic vistas, working farmland, rare and threatened ecological habitats and clean water resources. BRC assisted the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain State Park and Elk Knob State Park in expanding their borders, established Pond Mountain Game Land and is spearheading the Middle Fork Greenway project to connect Blowing Rock to Boone, naturally.
Exceptional levels of financial transparency and accountability earned BRC a perfect score from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent evaluator of nonprofit organizations. BRC is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for meeting the highest standards for excellence and conservation permanence.
More information about Blue Ridge Conservancy is available at www.blueridgeconservancy.org.