Submitted by Blue Ridge Conservancy
The Middle Fork Greenway has been a concept since the late 1990’s and over the past twenty years progress has been steadily moving forward – three county owned picnic parks have been secured and one mile of the trail is complete! Middle Fork Greenway leaders are currently working on the next 2.2 miles of trail to become “construction ready” and are asking the community join them as part of the force behind the greenway to make it a reality.
Momentum continues with the first ever “Round Up for the Greenway” – a community wide fundraiser slated for the entire month of July in Watauga County. Currently, 100 businesses are signed up to participate in this fundraiser and organizers would like to get another 101 businesses to sign up!
Businesses are participating in a multitude of ways: by giving a percentage of their July’s sales, asking customers to round their bill up to the next dollar, displaying a change jar on the counter, some hotels and are adding a pre-checked box to add a dollar to room stay, online sales are charging a dollar service fee, asking customers to give a dollar when checking out, encouraging customers to go to www.MiddleForkGreenway.org and donate there, host a fundraiser at your business, the sky is the limit on how our local business community can engage to get the Middle Fork Greenway complete!
These are the businesses already signed up and committed to “adopt” the Middle Fork Greenway for the month of July, and bolded businesses have committed year round: Anna Banana’s Fine Consignment, Antiques on Howard, Appalachia Cookie Company, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Appalachian Ski Mountain, App Ski Mtn Welcome Center, Basil’s Market, Be Natural Market, Best Cellar, Bistro Roca, Bless Your Heart, Blowing Rock Ale House, Blowing Rock Antique Center, Blowing Rock Frameworks & Gallery, Blowing Rock Inn, Blowing Rock Market, Bluebird Exchange, Blue Ridge Bites and Brews, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, Boone Bike & Touring, Boone Drug at Deerfield, Boone Drug at Greenway, Boone Drug at King Street, Boone Drug at New Market, Boone Drug – Village Pharmacy, Boxwood Lodge, Brass Exchange, Cabin Fever, Canyon’s Restaurant, Center 45 Climbing & Fitness, Cheeseburgers Grille, Chetola Resort, Daniel Boone Inn, Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine, Farm To Flame, Foggy Rock Eatery & Pub, Footsloggers Blowing Rock, Footsloggers Boone, Foscoe Rentals, Fun ‘N’ Wheels, Gaines Kiker Silversmith, Gideon Ridge Inn, Green Park Inn, Hatchet Coffee, Hawksnest Snow Tubing & Zipline, Hearthside Restaurant, High Gravity Adventures, Highland Hills Motel and Cabins, High Mountain Expeditions, Hillwinds Inn, Hominy Mill Mercantile, The Incredible Toy Company, Inn at Ragged Gardens, J&J Hawaiian Ice, Jenkin’s Realty, Juice Boone, LaQuinta Inn & Suites, Lost Province Brewing Company, Magic Cycles, Mast General Store, Melanie’s Food Fantasy, Mike’s Inland Seafood, Mountainaire Inn and Log Cabins, Mountaineer Cleaners, Mustard Seed Market, Mystery Hill, New River Building Supply, OrthoCarolina, Peak Chiropractic, Pepper’s Restaurant & Bar, Precision Printing, Puerto Nuevo Mexican & Seafood Restaurant, Recess Skate & Snow, Rhoddie Bicycles, Ridgeway Inn, Riverside Log Cabins, Roots Restaurant, Sky Valley Zip Tour, Sleep Inn, Stick Boy Bread Company, Stick Boy Kitchen, Sunny Rock Eggs & Things, Sunset and Vine, Sunset Sweets & Heat, Sunset Tee’s & Hats, Super Eight, The Blowing Rock Attraction, The Gilded Lily, The Rock Sports Bar & Grill, The Rug Company, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Town Tavern of Blowing Rock, US Buildings, Victorian Inn, Village Café, Village Inn, Village Jeweler’s Blowing Rock, Village Jeweler’s Boone, Wahoo’s Adventures, Watauga Medical Center.
The July funds raised will help leverage state and federal grants that require additional matching funds. This fundraiser will go a long way for the greenway, and will be doubled by the grants. The Middle Fork Greenway won’t be built tomorrow, but it could happen a lot faster with your help! The Middle Fork Greenway team is encouraging the community to engage in the greenway progress by participating in the Round Up for the Greenway this year!
The Round Up for the Greenway demonstrates to grantors that the local High Country community cares deeply about this project is are willing to pull together to support the Middle Fork Greenways development. As Margaret Meads quote states, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Together we will transform our community and create connections that will last for generations to come.
- One mile of the Middle Fork Greenway is complete
- 2 miles are in the construction planning phase
- $4 million has been raised to purchase land, build trail, and fund the next 1.3 miles of construction
- Based on what we know today, the long term need is an additional $9-10 million to complete the trail, but the short term, we only need $1.1 million to finish the next mile.
Middle Fork Greenway Round-Up Kick-Off Party
Join us for an evening at The Village Café in Blowing Rock for the Round Up for the Greenway Kick Off Party! The Village Café will be hosting an evening of creative cocktails and heavenly hors d’oeuvres on June 28th from 5-8pm. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended as The Village Café is typically not open during evening hours, so this will truly be a treat for the community.
Economic Impact Study:
Many people have asked the question “What kind of an impact is the Middle Fork Greenway going to have on our High Country Community?” To find these answers, the Middle Fork Greenway team commissioned the Institute for Transportation Research and Education out of NC State University to find out for us. Researchers from NC State University found that an investment in the Middle Fork Greenway could result in:
- 38,000 annual trips on the greenway
- 12,000 annual tourist trips – estimated to generate $6 million in the local economy
- 5% increase in the value of properties within a half mile of the greenway
- $10 million in health benefits (value extended life over 10 years)
- $296,000 increase in local property tax revenues per year
- $947,000 annually in business activity benefits
- 12 new jobs that support $276,300 in labor income
These estimations are based on analytical models that incorporate numerous greenway studies as well as special considerations of the unique economic and demographic nature of the area. Just like throwing a stone into a pond and those ripples affecting the entire perimeter of that pond, the Middle Fork Greenway will have a ripple effect on the entire 321 corridor and beyond in Watauga County.
Blowing Rock Section Update:
In August of 2017, the Eastern Federal Lands Access Program (EFLAP) awarded the Town of Blowing Rock $2 million toward the $2.6 million dollar greenway project from Shoppes on the Parkway through the Blue Ridge Parkway, and to the end of the Foley Center property. This 1.3 mile section partners with NC DOT, Town of Blowing Rock, private landowners, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blue Ridge Conservancy, Watauga County, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, and many funding partners – local and statewide. The engineering team, Withers Ravenel, out of Asheville was chosen to get the project “shovel ready” this year. They are identifying the alignment with the least amount of impact to the natural environment and locating the greenway in the most sustainable location away from the floodplain. Jennings Environmental was recently hired to conduct a River Restoration Prioritization Plan to identify priority reaches of the Middle Fork New River to bring the river to its highest potential – creating habitat for trout and protecting the water supply for Blowing Rock and Boone. This project is in partnership with Blue Ridge Conservancy, New River Conservancy, High Country Council of Government and Blue Ridge RD&D, and funded by Division of Water Resources. As the Middle Fork Greenway project is built the river will be protected which in turn will protect Blowing Rock and Boone’s water supply. This section is scheduled to start construction in 2019.
The trailhead in Blowing Rock is scheduled to be completed by NCDOT and the Middle Fork Greenway team fall of 2018. This will include benches, kiosks, landscaping and a “Donor Walk” which will recognize donors who have contributed to the greenway project over the years. There are numerous categories where businesses and individuals can get their names engraved on the large boulders. For more information on how to get your name on a boulder, please contact Wendy at Blue Ridge Conservancy.
Tweetsie Railroad to Niley Cook Rd Update:
The existing one-mile section that was constructed in 2014 by Tweetsie Railroad and NC DOT is being used and enjoyed by many people. The next section from Tweetsie Railroad to Niley Cook Rd is currently getting “shovel ready” by the Destination by Design team, which includes hydraulic engineering, structural engineering, permitting, and final design of the Middle Fork Greenway trail. This section’s terminus is at Goldmine Branch Park which will have a small parking area, greenway trail, picnic shelter, natural children’s play area, and access to the river. This section is almost one mile and will cost $1.8 million to construct. Currently, $700,000 has been raised and the Middle Fork Greenway team is working on state and federal grants to fill the $1.1 million gap, but as stated before, all the grants require local match, and that is where the Round Up for the Greenway can take this important role.
Who is leading the Middle Fork Greenway Project:
Blue Ridge Conservancy is leading the greenway project in partnership with High Country Pathways, Watauga County, Town of Blowing Rock, Town of Boone, and has been funded by Watauga and Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authorities, state and federal granting agencies, foundations, and individual donors. Zap Fitness is funding all the administrative costs of the Middle Fork Greenway project therefore donations and grants can be allocated toward greenway development! The success of this project is because of the incredible High Country Community support!
Who is Blue Ridge Conservancy?
Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) is a local, nonprofit land trust dedicated to conserving land and water resources in Northwestern North Carolina. BRC has conserved over 20,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.
BRC’s efforts have resulted in the protection of scenic vistas, working farmland, rare and threatened ecological habitats, and clean water resources.
BRC assists the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain State Park and Elk Knob State Park in expanding their borders. BRC also established Pond Mountain Game Land, and is leading the Middle Fork Greenway project that will connect Blowing Rock to Boone, naturally.
More information about Blue Ridge Conservancy is available at www.blueridgeconservancy.org.
For additional information please contact Wendy Patoprsty at 828-264-2511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org