Saving A National Treasure
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a national treasure. CTNC focuses its conservation efforts on saving the Parkway’s scenic views, clear mountain streams, healthy forests, picturesque farms, excellent hiking trails, and cultural heritage.
The Parkway is the 2nd-most popular unit of the National Park Service, each year attracting roughly 14 million visitors and pumping nearly $1 billion into the economy of the region through which it passes.
Most of the spectacular natural lands within view of the Parkway’s 469 miles are privately owned, and in some areas protected land along the Parkway is less than 100 feet wide on either side of the road.
The Parkway passes through many different natural landscapes, communities and political boundaries. Effective protection of its scenic beauty demands one organization to coordinate efforts with local land trusts, the National Park Service and other public agencies, and promote increased public and private funding to ensure the Parkway’s protection. In 1996, the Governor’s Year of the Mountains Commission designated CTNC to coordinate land protection along the Parkway in North Carolina.
Since then, CTNC has protected over 32,000 acres in more than 57 locations along the Parkway. Highlights include Asheville’s 17,500-acre drinking water supply watershed and Waynesville’s 8,000-acre watershed. CTNC has conveyed 22 properties totaling over 1,732 acres to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Parkway’s official boundary, for all Americans to enjoy.
In addition to CTNC, five local land trusts also protect lands along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina – Blue Ridge Conservancy, Foothills Conservancy of NC, Mainspring Conservation Trust, Piedmont Land Conservancy and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.
All of us are part of a broader coalition of nine land trusts and three national conservation groups called Blue Ridge Forever, which works to protect lands in 28 different focus areas in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains. Blue Ridge Forever’s vision targets important wildlife communities, pristine waters, farmland, cultural heritage, and scenic vistas, including lands along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mountain-to-Sea Trail. We work together to ensure that we efficiently preserve the highest priority lands.