The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Blue Ridge Parkway winds along 469 miles that stretch from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, but it is far more than a road. The Parkway is an invaluable connection to the nature, history, culture, and lifestyles of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The route is dotted with campsites, trails, waterfalls, lakes, overlooks, forests, fields, and historical structures, and welcomed more than 15 million visitors in 2015, more than any other national park.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the primary nonprofit fundraising partner for the Parkway, is made up of people who have a deep love for this majestic road and want to ensure that its natural beauty and the experiences it offers endure for generations to come. These individuals make up our Community of Stewards and help guide our work, which focuses on historical and cultural preservation, environmental protection, visitor amenities, and educational outreach.
By working with the Parkway superintendent and staff and our supporters, we identify critical projects and raise funds to address those needs, creating a stronger park and enjoyable experiences for the millions of visitors that come to the park each year.
Recent projects include:
-The rehab of structures at Johnson Farm in Virginia, where visitors can learn about late 19th and early 20th century farm life;
-The installation of remote cameras that capture the activities of wildlife, enabling park resource managers to better manage the habitats these creatures call home;
-The paving of Abbott Lake Loop Trail, creating the first complete ADA trail on the Parkway;
-The Rock Castle Gorge bioblitz, which allowed the public to take part in a survey to find and document flora and fauna in one of many biodiverse areas on the Parkway.
The Foundation’s mission also includes protecting cultural history and engaging the next generation of public land stewards. To improve the health of children and help them connect to the outdoors, we started the Kids in Parks program and opened its first TRACK Trail at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville in 2009. In 2013, the Foundation took over musical programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center, milepost 213, which passes on the musical traditions of the region with bluegrass, old-time, Americana, and country blues performances.
These are just some of the vital roles the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation fulfills in support of the National Park Service mission. Visit the Foundation’s website, www.brpfoundation.org, to learn about more of its programs and how you can support the Parkway.
Kids In Parks
Kids in Parks is a network of hiking, biking, paddling and disc golf trails outfitted with free activity guides for children and families. The mission behind these TRACK Trails goes beyond fun; the goals are to encourage kids to be physically active and help them build meaningful connections with nature. In turn, these goals help inspire the next generation of stewards, who will care for all public lands, including the Blue Ridge Parkway. Parks are at their best when people use, appreciate, and care for them.
Each TRACK Trail has a series of self-guided brochures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled, discovery-packed adventure. The guides encourage children to truly engage with the outdoors by identifying trees and birds, viewing the forest from the perspective of animals, and searching for natural features, among other fun activities. The ease of the hikes and educational materials provide a positive introduction to outdoor activities. TRACK Trails are fun, healthy, and free. Children can record their adventures at KidsinParks.com to earn prizes and plan more adventures.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation launched their Kids in Parks program in 2012 to help get kids and families “un-plugged,” outdoors, and actively engaged in the natural, cultural and historic resources. Kids who register their TRACK Trail adventures on the Kids in Parks website become members of the program’s Trail TRACKer Team and earn incentive prizes such as Trail TRACKer Gear designed to make their next outdoor adventure more interactive and fun.
The nation-wide Kids in Parks program began on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a single trail at the Asheville Visitor Center.
For more information, visit this site.