10/13/2011 - Parkway releases General Management Plan
by Asheville Citizen Times
Keeping our natural resources here in the Mountains of Western North Carolina managed well is so very important - it literally means the world.
ASHEVILLE -- The National Park Service on Wednesday released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Blue Ridge Parkway's General Management Plan. Public comment on the document will be taken through Dec. 16.
This is the first general management plan in the park's 75-year history, Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said.
The Park Service will hold four open house-style public meetings -- two in North Carolina and two in Virginia -- for the public to learn about the plan and submit comments.
Each meeting will feature exhibits to help the public understand the plan, which provides comprehensive guidance for perpetuating natural systems, preserving cultural resources and providing opportunities for quality visitor experiences along the parkway for at least the next 20 years.
The draft plan evaluates a range of alternatives to compare the advantages of one course of action to another.
The planning team developed two "action" alternatives (B and C). Alternative A is the "no-action" alternative that describes how the parkway is currently managed.
The National Park Service identified Alternative B as its preferred management approach. This alternative emphasizes the original parkway design and traditional driving experience, while enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities and regional natural resource connectivity and providing modest improvements to visitor services.
"This is the parkway's first General Management Plan, and it provides for the management of the resource to insure the quintessential parkway experience is available to future generations," Francis said in a news release.
The preferred alternative proposes modest re-investment in the parkway's aging infrastructure, updating inadequate visitor services and facilities, and protecting a biologically diverse natural environment.