Historic Parkway Faces Challenges by Phil Francis

Back in March Phil Francis, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, wrote an Op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. While it is a couple of months old. What he had to say has lost none of its relevance. For those of us who love these mountains and the roadway that runs their length his words hold special meaning…Here is an excerpt…

The intrinsic value of the Parkway’s natural resources and its singular drive to preserve the culture and history of the Southern Appalachian region may be lost upon a new wave of Americans who don’t fully appreciate the need for the preservation and conservation of this amazing park. So, how do we ensure future generations’ care for the Parkway? How do we ensure future generations’ care about the Parkway? As governmental resources continue to diminish, who will oversee the health and well-being of the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Ask anyone who’s driven the road to describe it and they will undoubtedly begin to describe a memory of an event — an outing with the family at Mabry Mill, an autumn hike with the kids into Linville Gorge, a romantic picnic with someone special. They will remember the rime along the upper ridges, their amazement at the engineering of the road and its bridges and tunnels, the unforgettable camping trips with family and friends. They may recall venturing into communities big and small — from the artistically diverse town of Floyd to the more metropolitan city of Roanoke — and the individuals they met along the way: weavers, woodcarvers, potters, farmers, merchants, musicians, and entrepreneurs.

In other words, the true value of the Blue Ridge Mountains also lies in the memories of fellow travelers, the lasting lessons of life and discovery, the intimate connections with nature and the Earth. Sure, it’s a road. But it is so much more than that.

Come and celebrate the wonder of the Blue Ridge Parkway in its 75th year. We invite you to join us throughout the year at special events in communities along the road, including a special weekend at the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax in September. We also encourage you to become involved in securing the future well-being of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Volunteer your time. Consider protecting adjacent lands in conservation easements. Investigate the work of organizations that support the Parkway — there are many of them. Teach a young person to be a committed steward. Help us protect the future of America’s Favorite Drive.

Go read the entire Op-Ed at: Francis: Historic Parkway Faces Challenges | Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Phil Francis is superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. He can be reached at (828) 271-4779.

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