The “Crown of the Blue Ridge” Must Remain Blowing Rock’s Tourism Anchor

The “Crown of the Blue Ridge” Must Remain Blowing Rock’s Tourism Anchor
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Charles Hardin

By Charles Hardin. January 17, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Blowing Rock, North Carolina, with our unmatched, far-reaching views along the Blue Ridge Parkway and our quaint storybook mountain village, is truly deserving of the title: “Crown of the Blue Ridge.” Here in Blowing Rock, we are uniquely tied to the parkway as we are the only community that is recognized in national and international travel sites as boasting two entrances into this iconic national park site. As such, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the #1 economic driver for our local economy.

And it’s not just for tourists. It’s part of our local identity.

It’s not just for tourists. It’s part of our local identity.

Our residents walk the trails around Bass Lake and Moses Cone Memorial Park regularly. We have a vibrant downtown with our award-winning restaurants, shops and inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, cabins, and hotels. We regularly visit the park to hike trails, go for picnics or bike rides, watch sunsets/moonrises, and even eclipses and space station crossings.

But make no mistake. Tourism fuels our economic engine and we must continue to support national efforts to maintain our national parks—especially the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In 2016, 15 million visitors to the Parkway spent $980 million in gateway communities from Cherokee to Sparta.

In 2016, the 15 million visitors to the parkway—the second most visited unit in the entire National Park System—spent $980 million, including in gateway communities from Cherokee to Sparta. These statewide, national, and international tourists supported more than 15,600 jobs, resulting in a whopping $1.3 billion in total economic activity to our state. That’s money spent in our restaurants, in locally owned shops, recreation outfitters, grocery stores, and hotels.

Whether they inform us of our cultural heritage, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, or protect our natural resources and wildlife, national parks need adequate care to accommodate the hundreds of millions of visitors annually. But, inconsistent federal funding has been unable to fully address the repair needs of our parks. There is currently an $11.3 billion deferred maintenance backlog throughout the National Park System, which includes eroded trails, crumbling historic buildings, potholed roads, and failing utility systems. North Carolina’s national park needs exceed $430 million in deferred maintenance, with the NC-portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway coming in at $261 million of that total.

I am pleased to see Congress recognize the importance of properly funding our national parks. The National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751/HR 2584), introduced by a bipartisan team of senators and representatives, reflects the broad support for this issue across the nation. This bill would provide the National Park Service with dedicated, reliable funding to address deferred maintenance repairs, and incentivize public-private collaboration to leverage support from non-profit organizations and corporate partners.

Contact Senators Burr and Tillis, and Representative Virginia Foxx to urge their support for the National Park Service Legacy Act.

Businesses and local elected leaders from across our region recognize that the Blue Ridge Parkway is both a treasured resource for residents, and also a catalyst for generating economic growth through tourism. I hope the residents of Blowing Rock, Boone and communities throughout Western North Carolina will echo the call for dedicated funding to restore America’s national parks and contact Senators Burr and Tillis, and Rep. Virginia Foxx to urge them to support the National Park Service Legacy Act (S.751/HR 2584)

Senator Richard Burr, Winston Salem Office

  • 2000 West First Street. Ste. 508
  • Winston Salem, NC 27104
  • 336.631.5125 (Office)
  • 336.725.4493 (Fax)

Senator Thom Tillis, Charlotte Office

  • 9300 Harris Corners Parkway Ste. 170
  • Charlotte, NC 28269
  • 704.509.9087 (Office)
  • 704.509.9162 (Fax)

Representative Virginia Foxx, Boone District Office

  • 400 Shadowline Drive Ste. 205
  • Boone, NC 28607
  • 828.265.0240 (Office)
  • 828.265.0390 (Fax)

 

 

 

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