Volunteers clean up the view along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Federal funding for the Blue Ridge Parkway has been flat in recent years, making it tougher to keep up with maintenance and litter control along the 469-mile road that traverses the highlands of Virginia and North Carolina.

“The focus is more about how far those dollars go these days,” said parkway spokeswoman Leesa Brandon. “That gap gets a little bit bigger and harder to fill each year, and that’s why we’re grateful to be working with organizations like Friends of the Parkway.”

“We’re lucky to go through so many communities where people love the parkway and are willing to step up and help us take care of it.”

The Roanoke local chapter of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway does at least one cleanup a month along a 50-mile stretch of the parkway that includes 26 overlooks. The volunteer group also maintains trails, campgrounds and picnic areas along the parkway.

With visitation up — nearly 2 million visitors traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway in October, the highest monthly total in five years – and funding down, there’s an even greater need for volunteer support groups to fill the void.

On November 19, 2016 about a dozen volunteers from the group cleaned up nearly 1,000 pounds of litter from the slopes below the Stewarts Knob Overlook.

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