Blue Ridge Parkway is moving forward in the historic preservation process

ASHEVILLE – The Blue Ridge Parkway nomination for National Historic Landmark status was recently put up for a vote at a National Historic Landmarks Committee meeting on May 14, bringing it one step closer to receiving official historic status.

The referral comes after one of North Carolina’s senators recently visited the area to advocate for the Parkway’s historic designation.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most visited units in the system of 424 national parks, generating $1.3 billion for communities along its 479-mile drive since 2022. The road extends from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and borders the scenic Blue Ridge. Mountains, running through Asheville and ending at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cherokee.

Republican Senator Ted Budd of North Carolina visited several stops on the Parkway near Asheville on May 29 to advocate for its designation in the National Park as a National Historic Landmark.

The visit comes after Budd asked the Department of the Interior and the NHLC to grant the parkway historic status in an April 15 letter to NPS Director Charles Sams.

“The distinction of this historic landmark cannot be replicated anywhere else in the United States or the world,” Budd wrote, noting the scenic views and popular sites, such as Craggy Gardens and Grandfather Mountain, that lie along the parkway.

The National Park Service chooses new National Historic Landmarks through thematic and special studies that “provide a comparative analysis of properties associated with a specific area of ​​American history,” according to the NPS website. The National Historic Landmarks Committee met May 14-15 and voted for the Blue Ridge Parkway nomination to move forward in the process, along with 10 other sites.

The National Parks System Advisory Council will vote in the future on whether to recommend to the Secretary of the Interior whether to proceed with the proposed designation.

Blue Ridge Parkway spokesperson Leesa Brandon said Parkway staff was excited about the nomination and “appreciated the senator’s interest in the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

“Parkway leadership recognizes the importance of a National Historic Landmark designation; and believes that a place with the local, national and international significance of the Parkway is deserving of this nomination,” Brandon said in a May 31 email.

Brandon also said staff believes the designation can continue to grow regional travel and tourism by retaining many of the original elements from its inception in the early 1930s.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was built in phases beginning in 1935 as a New Deal project to attract tourists and boost the Appalachian economy during the Great Depression. It was completed in 1987 with the installation of the Linn Cove Viaduct near Grandfather Mountain.

The National Historic Landmark designation comes with a number of specific federal protections, including consideration of the historic values ​​of the property in determining the issuance of surface mining permits and reporting on any surface mining activity of which the U.S. Secretary of State of the Interior determines that this could damage the ‘National Historic Landmark’. in whole or in part,” according to the park service website.

Senator Budd’s spokesman Curtis Kalin told the Citizen Times that Budd “intends to continue advocating for the Blue Ridge Parkway as it moves through each step in the process.”

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Will Hofmann is the growth and development reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Do you have a tip? Email him at [email protected]. Please support this kind of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.

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