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Historic cemeteries along the Blue Ridge Parkway record decades of Appalachian life.

Most recently, FRIENDS has added our ‘Adopt-a-Cemetery’ project in response to a National Park Service (NPS) request for assistance with maintaining the more than 70 historic cemeteries located within the Parkway boundaries.

This is a truly exciting project that has begun with identifying cemetery boundaries, cleaning and maintenance but will expand to include grave marker data collection for the Blue Ridge (BLRI) Cemetery Database, locating birth/death/marriage records in the local county courthouse and an effort to locate heirs that might be interested in maintaining the grave sites. This is fascinating work for new or dedicated genealogy enthusiasts especially.

The NPS will certify any groups or individuals that adopt a cemetery, allowing them to do weed eating and tree trimming.

If you’ve got a group interested in adopting a cemetery, you need to make sure you have a basic understanding what is involved to ensure that it is a good fit for you or your group. FRIENDS will work with you in all aspects, but we do recommend that you do some up front research yourself. We request all individuals or groups wishing to adopt a cemetery do so for at least a year, and preferably three to five. It takes time to get you or your group set up, trained and working productively and so we do ask for a minimum commitment. Of course, we are thrilled to have you stay on with the cemetery for as long as you like. We have individuals and groups that enjoy being outside, find the work rewarding and stay with their choice of adopted area long term.

Found your cemetery? then there are a few details to take care of. You’ll need to complete and submit some forms, await approval from the National Park Service and FRIENDS, and if approved, take some training from other FRIENDS volunteers.

We’ve outlined the entire procedure for you below.

  1. Read our Cemetery Program Booklet to get a basic understanding of what is involved in cemetery maintenance.
  2. Many interested individuals or groups already have an idea which cemetery they’d like to adopt. Please review our list of adopted cemeteries to see if the one you’re interested in is available. In deciding if a particular one is a good fit for your group, be sure to consider the travel time.
  3. If your cemtery is not available and there are no other cemeteries that are appropriate for your group, there is always the option to volunteer with the group that has adopted one near you and FRIENDS can put you in touch with that group.
  4. If your cemetery is available, please contact FRIENDS and talk to us. We can help you fill in any blanks, put you in touch with another cemetery group who can talk to you about their experiences, help you arrange to go out on a cemetery maintenance day, whatever you need to feel comfortable that you’re not only willing, but ready and able.
  5. Download the Adopt-a-Cemetery Application. This application is for your entire group and it must be completed and returned to FRIENDS to start the approval process. You may mail the completed application to us or you may scan and return the completed application by e-mail to
  6. Each member of your group must also be a registered volunteer with FRIENDS before you can start work. Please refer your members to our BECOME A VOLUNTEER page for information and forms.
  7. When your group is approved, FRIENDS will contact you to arrange for training.
  8. When your group begins your cemetery work, you will be asked to submit regular Adopt-a-Cemetery Maintenance Forms. These reports log the number of people working, the hours each worked and makes note of any special conditions that the National Park Service should be aware of on the cemetery. Again, you have the option to mail these to FRIENDS or scan and return them by e-mail to