Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation Provides More Than $650,000 For Parkway Projects and Programs

Boardwalk on accessible portion of Price Lake Trail, Blowing Rock, NC.

A young woman and her elderly father find easy walking on the accessible portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway's Price Lake Trail near Blowing Rock, NC. Support from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation will add boardwalks and accessible treadway to the entire 2.5-mile trail. Photo by Randy Johnson.

Trail work, facility repairs, and even music are among some of the projects and programs that will be evident along the Blue Ridge Parkway this year thanks to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

The Foundation's Board of Directors this week approved more than $650,000 in funding for projects as diverse as children's education to support of the Blue Ridge Music Center.

"The staff of the Parkway and I are very grateful to the Foundation for their generous contribution this year," said Blue Ridge Superintendent Phil Francis. "The support provided by the Foundation has become vital to our ability to meet some of the Parkway’s most basic needs and maintain a sustainable and healthy Blue Ridge Parkway.”

Carolyn Ward, the Foundation's chief executive officer, said the funding was made possible by the "thousands of caring committed individuals, organizations and businesses" that donate to the Foundation.

“We would like to thank the community for all their support, and as you travel the Parkway in 2012 look for all the projects and programs made possible because of our Community of Stewards," she said in a release.

The approved projects for 2012 include:

* Continued funding of the Parks As Classrooms initiative for the 2012-2013 school year. Parks as Classrooms is the Blue Ridge Parkway’s outreach program to children, instilling values of Parkway protection to students in all 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties that border the Parkway.

* Graveyard Fields Enhancement project. The Graveyard Fields project is a collaborative effort with the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to improve visitor use and stewardship of this highly trafficked area, and will expand the parking, construct a convenience station and improve the trails and interpretive signs. The Scenic Byways grant to fund this project has been approved, and the Foundation will be providing the matching funds required to complete the project.

* Completion of the Abbot Lake Trail Accessibility project. Funding will allow completion of an existing project to address accessibility through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and trail improvements. This project will minimize the degradation of the lake shore, provide for better fishing and viewing of the lake, and provide recreational opportunities for all populations.

* Waterrock Knob Visitor Center Roof Replacement A total roof replacement of the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center that has been in a state of deterioration for a number of years and attempts to correct water intrusion have failed. The new roof will protect the exhibits and furnishings from water damage and provide a mold and mildew free working environment for the staff.

* Restoration of the Heart Pond at Bass Lake. This heart-shaped pond connects to Bass Lake on the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The wall will be rebuilt to historical details, and the pond will be drained, dredged, repointed and restocked with trout as was historically done.

* Price Lake Trail Accessibility. Currently, one-half of the 2.7 mile Price Lake loop trail is handicap accessible. This project will install a boardwalk and small bridges, along with some hiking surface smoothing to allow this entire loop trail to become accessible to a wider group of visitors.

* Blue Ridge Parkway Weather. The Blue Ridge Parkway will be partnering with Ray’s Weather (www.raysweather.com) and Appalachian State University to build a comprehensive weather website and smart-phone application covering the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. Using information from weather stations and webcams installed along the Parkway, the site will include custom forecasts, live weather conditions, live webcam images and video, radar and satellite imagery, climate information and reader supplied photography and comments. Data from the site will be freely available to researchers in a standard format for projects ranging from park management to research in climate/meteorology, education/outreach, ecology, biology, etc.

* Blue Ridge Music Center. The Foundation will again be providing funds to supplement the programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center, helping to preserve the musical heritage of the Appalachian Mountains.

A complete list of the approved projects for 2012 can be found on the Foundation’s website.