The 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway run through two states and 29 counties.
Segments of the Parkway run within several miles of the two largest metropolitan areas of the Parkway – Asheville, NC and Roanoke, VA. Development in these two cities, along with countless other towns adjacent to the Parkway, threatens every aspect of the Parkway’s future.
In the 75 years since construction began, land use along the Parkway corridor has changed dramatically. In place of pastoral scenery, today’s travelers look down from overlooks at golf courses, second-home developments, gravel pits and industrial buildings. They motor past fields sprouting tract houses instead of pumpkins, cabbage and corn. They gaze toward ridges steepled with cell towers, often through a pall of polluted air.
Does this matter? It does – and to more than parkway officials and preservationists. Economic impact surveys have determined that communities along its corridor benefit from the parkway’s millions of annual visitors, to the tune of $2.3 billion in expenditures each year. And surveys of parkway visitors indicate that 95 percent of them come for scenery and recreation.
Border Land Use Impacts
Economic ImpactAs one of the most visited units in the National Park system, the Parkway feeds billions of dollars each year into the small bordering towns who cater to over 20 million tourists each year. 95% of Parkway visitors report that they visit the Parkway for its scenic vistas. Urban development threatens to take away these extraordinary viewsheds, and with it, the tourism dollars critical to the economic well-being of Parkway border communities.
Water QualityThe Parkway is home to 150 headwaters of approximately 600 miles of streams. Development has caused these headwaters to become clogged with silt and man-made debris which travels downstream and pollutes the drinking water of countless communities and fragile Parkway ecosystems.
Diverse and Rare Appalachian FloraThe land of the Parkway is some of the most diverse in the world, housing 75 “Distinct Plant Communities” which are unique groupings of plants found only in certain geographic areas. Of these, 24 are considered globally rare, and seven are considered globally imperiled. There are over 100 different soil types along the Parkway, ranging from spruce forests in the highest elevations to the Southern Appalachian bog wetlands. These unique plant communities rely on undisturbed, fragile ecosystems and will not continue to exist if area development continues.
Endangered Animal HabitatsThe Parkway is home to nine federally endangered species and approximately 100 state-listed species, many of which are found in the unique Appalachian bog wetlands. These wetlands support more species of rare, threatened and endangered species than all other types of wetlands combined. Seventy-four mammals, 43 amphibians, 35 reptiles and 150 bird species call the Parkway home, but will be forced into extinction or relocation if their natural habitat is destroyed due to urban development.
If you or your family own land along the Parkway and are interested in its protection, we encourage you to contact one of the land trusts listed below.
722 First St. SW, Suite L
Roanoke, VA 24016-4120
Meagan Cupka, Project Manager <firstname.lastname@example.org>