Middle Fork Greenway Group To Leverage Grants, Purchase 12 Acres Along New River

Published Monday, November 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

The Middle Fork Greenway (MFG) initiative took a significant leap forward with the announcement today of a donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and the award of a grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF).

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Community members and stakeholders gathered at public input meeting in November to learn about and discuss the Middle Fork Greenway project.

A $168,750 donation by BCBSNC to the Blue Ridge Conservancy provides matching funds for the $196,192 CWMTF grant. 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. With its wide buffer along the Middle Fork hosting rhododendron and other native plants, MFG leaders believe this tract will house a particularly beautiful stretch of the greenway.

“Our support of the Middle Fork Greenway project ties directly to our mission of making life better for everyone living in our state,” said Kathy Higgins, vice president of corporate affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “North Carolinians are fortunate to live in a place with such gorgeous open spaces, providing us with a host of opportunities to get outside and lead active lives. The MFG is a great idea on every level and we’re eager to see more North Carolinians enjoying it.”

“A goal of the emerging Middle Fork Greenway is conservation of land along the banks of the Middle Fork, one of the head waters of the New River,” said Blue Ridge Conservancy Executive Director, Walter Clark. “We are so grateful to BCBSNC and the CWMTF for making it possible for our residents and visitors to have access to beautiful natural areas through the Middle Fork Greenway. The contributions by these two statewide organizations are wonderful examples of the private/public partnerships that are developing to make the MFG a reality.”

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.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.91 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) is a foundation established to assist conservation non-profits, local governments and state agencies for the protection of surface waters in North Carolina. Created in response to growing concerns about the rivers, streams and other surface water bodies in the state and their ability to support local economies dependent on these waters, the legislature introduced the program that would take an innovative and non-regulatory approach to the protection and restoration of the surface waters all across the state.

The Middle Fork Greenway (MFG) is a developing pedestrian and cycling greenway trail along the Middle Fork River and US 321 corridor connecting Boone and Blowing Rock. It is being led by two non-profit organizations, Blue Ridge Conservancy and High Country Pathways, in partnership with local governments and many community partners. For more information: www.middleforkgreenway.org and www.blueridgeconservancy.org.

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Charlie Sellers, owner of The Blowing Rock attraction, and Ann Browning, executive director of the Middle Fork Greenway, speak about the Middle Fork Greenway project.

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Blowing Rock Town Council Member Jim Steele talks with Destination by Design firm partner Eric Woolridge about the Middle Fork Greenway.

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