~Legislation would protect an additional 50,000 acres of land on Parkway’s 75th anniversary~
Jan 26 2010
Contact: Kevin Hall (202-224-2023)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, U.S. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jim Webb (D-VA), and Mark Warner (D-VA) are today introducing legislation authorizing the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire up to 50,000 acres of land surrounding the historic roadway. Congressmen Heath Shuler (D-NC), David Price (D-NC), Rick Boucher (D-VA), and Tom Perriello (D-VA) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The Blue Ridge Parkway’s anniversary is being celebrated throughout 2010, and will culminate in September.
“The Blue Ridge Parkway, the nation’s first and longest rural parkway, connects Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina,” Warner said. “The Parkway links dozens of outdoor recreation and tourism options, and this legislation will help us continue to preserve and promote Appalachia’s unique culture and history.”
"In North Carolina, we're lucky to have beautiful beaches in the east and rolling mountains in the west," said Hagan. “The Blue Ridge Parkway has some of the most spectacular views in the country, encompassing healthy forests and wildlife habitat, pure mountain streams, and family farms. Our legislation will ensure this North Carolina treasure will be preserved for future generations. I am working with my colleagues to advance the bill in the Senate and secure funding to support this important investment in the Western North Carolina economy. ”
“The Blue Ridge Parkway is a State and national treasure, and an investment now will help us protect the Parkway for future generations,” said Burr.
“The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the Commonwealth’s more significant tourist attractions, providing economic benefits to communities in Southwestern Virginia,” said Webb. “As a longtime supporter of natural and cultural landmark preservation, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation.”
The Blue Ridge Parkway Protection Act will authorize $75 million over five years to allow the NPS to acquire and preserve high priority land surrounding the Blue Ridge Parkway. The bill will adjust the park’s boundary to include the new land acquisition, but no land would be acquired through eminent domain. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) proposed the legislation as an appropriate commemoration of the 75th anniversary.
Construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935 near Cumberland Knob, NC. Today, it stretches 469 miles across North Carolina and Virginia, and its breathtaking views attract nearly 20 million visitors per year, making it the most visited site in the National Park Service. One of the strongest economic engines in the region, the Blue Ridge Parkway generates an estimated $2.3 billion in North Carolina and Virginia annually.