Message from the Chair of the Board of Trustees
Welcome to one of America’s most visited national park units, the incomparable Blue Ridge Parkway! Whether you are here to experience outstanding mountain vistas, learn about Appalachian history and culture or to enjoy traditional regional music, the Blue Ridge Parkway has it all.
Spawned by work projects during the Great Depression, this magnificent ribbon of road stretches 469 miles through our majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, running through 29 counties in North Carolina and Virginia and connecting the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks. Along the way one experiences glimpses of Southern Appalachian Mountain wonders, among the most popular being the Peaks of Otter, Mabry Mill, the Blue Ridge Music Center, Grandfather Mountain and its stunning Linn Cove Viaduct, and Mount Mitchell, highest summit in eastern America.
You might have sensed this already: I love the Blue Ridge Parkway! I grew up a half-mile from this national treasure, walked its scenic trails, learned to drive on it, and continue to be enchanted by its unique beauty and sense of place. We regularly took our children on Parkway picnics, had lazy Sunday afternoon drives and took them hiking and fly-fishing along this rare jewel. As empty-nesters we continue to enjoy this marvel. So the Blue Ridge Parkway contains many wonderful memories and magic moments for our family, just as it does for generations of Americans who have wandered these hills, curves, valleys and peaks for nearly eight decades.
I am committed, along with the Foundation’s fine staff and my fellow Trustees and Advisory Panel members, to “preserving the past, enhancing the present and safeguarding the future of the Parkway.” We accomplish this mission as the primary non-profit fundraising partner of the Blue Ridge Parkway, matching donor interest with park needs by working closely with the National Park Service to prioritize funding and allocating hundreds of thousands of our donor dollars to Park programs every year. In fact, thanks to our faithful donors who comprise our Community of Stewards, we have been able to fund more than $5 million dollars of priority Parkway projects through donations since our founding in 1997.
This comes at a time when all national parks have undergone federal budget cuts for a decade, with a mounting backlog of maintenance needs and fewer employees to do the work of keeping these much-loved resources open and meeting the public’s expectations. Parks everywhere depend upon help from volunteers and from individual and institutional donors, and the Blue Ridge Parkway has benefitted in dramatic ways from those who are committed to safeguarding it for generations to come. The fiscal needs of the Parkway have never been more challenging, but with your support, we will continue to work daily to guarantee the future of this treasure and the quality of your visit. Enjoy! -- Broaddus Fitzpatrick
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