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ARC Announces Winners of Gems of Appalachia Blue Ridge Parkway Grant Competition

September 2009


WASHINGTON, September 18, 2009—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has announced the winners of the second round of its Gems of Appalachia grant competition to enhance the gateway communities that border national and state parks and forests.

Grants totaling $150,000 were awarded to six winners from the states of North Carolina and Virginia. The grants will fund projects in communities along the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway that will promote sustainable tourism while protecting the area's natural beauty and cultural heritage.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope congratulated the winners: "The Blue Ridge Parkway, with its spectacular scenery, is one of Appalachia's most cherished treasures. These winning projects come at an ideal time, helping boost tourism to the parkway and create jobs as it celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary. At the same time, they will help preserve its natural and cultural resources for many years to come."

Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said, "Working with the Appalachian Regional Commission has been a pleasure and helped us achieve success in one of the goal areas for the parkway's seventy-fifth anniversary—building stronger relationships with our gateway communities. The grant awards from ARC highlight some of the innovative work that is happening across the parkway region."

Grants were awarded to:

  • Surry County in North Carolina, to create six thematic geo-guides that will explore and promote tours in southwest Virginia and northwest North Carolina.
  • Carroll County in Virginia, to install an interactive electronic information station at Fancy Gap, Virginia.
  • The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project in North Carolina, to develop a Web-based local food- and farm-trip planner to promote the region as an agri-tourism destination and provide visitors with an authentic food and farm experience.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in North Carolina, to design, assess, and market a hiking program and trail that encourages families to explore the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Rockbridge County in Virginia, to establish a trail using the high-tech treasure-hunting game geocaching to encourage visitors to explore the foothills communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • The town of Dillsboro, North Carolina, to create a series of programs, demonstrations, and classes that focus on women's history and provide job-training opportunities in the areas of conservation, preservation of historic documents, and adaptive reuse of historic structures.