“Western North Carolina’s economy benefits tremendously from our national parks, forests, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am especially pleased that the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has received this funding to continue preserving our heritage and driving our economy,” said Rep. Shuler. “In the past three years the BRNHA has brought two times the amount of its federal appropriations into Western North Carolina through matching funds. It has proven to be a good investment for our entire region.”
The BRNHA consists of the 25 westernmost counties of Western North Carolina. Its mission is to protect and preserve the unique natural, historical, and cultural resources of the region for the benefit of present and future generations, and in so doing stimulate improved economic opportunity in the region.
Janice Brumit, BRNHA Board Chair said the appropriation comes at an opportune time.
“We have adopted a really ambitious plan of work for the coming year, and we are excited that we have received an adequate appropriation to enable us to move forward,” Brumit said. “We think this appropriation is an acknowledgement that we have been doing a good job, and we intend to continue doing that.”
According to Penn Dameron, Executive Director for the BRNHA, Heritage Area projects for 2007 will involve the new Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center, including a 22-foot long interactive map of the Parkway highlighting special places and attractions. BRNHA also will provide computer kiosks to allow visitors to purchase tickets to local attractions and help with staffing and utility costs for the new building.
Over the past three years BRNHA has awarded almost $1 million in grants, mostly to non-profit corporations, which have been matched by more than $2.7 million in non-federal funds.