The 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway is the nation’s most visited national park, and yet funding for it has not increased relative to the economy or to other national parks. Consequently, not only the aesthetic experience of travelers is being degraded, but even their safety is at risk.
But there is a glimmer of good news: in late January, federal appropriations were made so that the parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park would be able to hire more seasonal workers to run visitor centers, keep roads and trails maintained and continue funding park programs. From the Asheville Times…
The proposed $2.4 billion for national parks, which is a $230 million increase over last year, would send $1.5 million to the parkway and $1.9 million to the Smokies, an 11 percent increase for both parks, the two most visited units in the National Park Service.
“These seasonals will enable us to keep those visitor centers open, providing safety and general orientations to the parkway, and educational and interpretative programming,” Francis said.
“And we will be able to keep our facilities clean, roadsides mowed in a better way, our vistas will be in a better shape, and our law enforcement will be able to provide a higher level of visitor services.”