The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a reception on Thursday, November 9, at 6 p.m. at Lioncrest at Biltmore. The evening will include dinner, drinks and a brief performance by National Heritage Award recipient and luthier Wayne C. Henderson and Junior Appalachian Musicians program founder Helen White. Foundation CEO Carolyn Ward and Chase Pickering, great-great-grandson of George W. Vanderbilt, will speak about the importance of the Parkway and the role everyone can play in its future.
“Our hopes for the Parkway are to ensure it receives proper funding to address the road repairs needed, reopen shuttered facilities such as Bluffs Lodge, Coffee Shop and Camp Store and expand its offerings to connect with new generations,” says Ward. “This park belongs to each of us, and each of us can play a role to make sure it remains the amazing place we love while it moves toward a more secure and bright future.”
During the last two decades, the Foundation’s Community of Stewards has invested more than $12 million in the park. Projects include protecting natural resources through wildlife surveys, trail repairs, environmental studies and forensic training for law enforcement rangers. Education and outreach have been expanded through the Kids in Parks program and by rehabbing museum and visitor center exhibits, funding youth conservation crews and engaging in citizen science projects. The Foundation’s historical and cultural preservation efforts have included placing Moses H. Cone Memorial Park on the National Register of Historic Places, supporting musical programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center and rehabbing Mabry Mill and Ramsey Cabin. Additionally, visitor amenities and experiences have been enhanced at Parkway stops, including Waterrock Knob, Graveyard Fields, Bass Lake, Price Lake, Linville Falls and Peaks of Otter.
The anniversary event will celebrate these accomplishments and others, as well as highlight future opportunities to enrich the Blue Ridge Parkway. “It is more than just a road,” says Ward. “It’s a haven for biodiversity, a living museum for mountain culture and history and a powerful economic engine for the communities that dot our ridges.”
Biltmore Estate is located at 1 Lodge Street in Asheville. Tickets to the event are $100 and are available at brpfoundation.org/20yearsstrong or 866.308.2773, ext. 245.