FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway (FRIENDS) has launched a two-year 25th anniversary celebration commemorating the volunteer-driven organization’s founding in North Carolina in 1988 and in Virginia the following year.

“We believe the best way to celebrate a quarter century of service to the Blue Ridge Parkway is with a renewed commitment to America’s most visited park,” said Susan J. Mills, PhD, Executive Director of FRIENDS. “We also believe in aiming high and, over the next two years, increasing membership and service hours by 25%.”

According to recent Parkway data, approximately one-third of the Park’s maintenance positions are unfilled and likely to remain so since the government’s sequestration cuts have gone into effect. “Other national parks can charge an admission fee,” Mills pointed out. “That’s not an option for the Blue Ridge Parkway. So we need to enlist more volunteers to help maintain this treasure that is such an integral part of life in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.”

“Because the Parkway is our nation’s most visited park, it takes a lot of wear and tear. Our volunteers give their time, talent and money to care for the Park. We just need more of them,” said Board Chair Ken Randolph. He noted that for every dollar contributed to FRIENDS, the organization is able to generate four dollars in volunteer time and resources.

To open the season annually the Blue Ridge Parkway needs volunteers to help with site maintenance. FRIENDS Chapters located in the Parkway’s surrounding communities will be clearing and maintaining trails, hosting campground clean-ups, and conducting Parkway overlook maintenance in April and May. Volunteer jobs include picking up fallen branches, removing hazardous trees, and clearing and refurbishing footpaths and steps. All ages are welcome!

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