The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has once again launched a year-end fundraising campaign called the 469 Challenge.
Inspired by the miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 469 Challenge is an effort to bring in one donation for every mile during the last two months of the year. In 2011, the Foundation raised 452 donations towards the 469 Challenge. As of Dec. 5, the Foundation had raised 233 donations towards the 2012 Challenge.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the primary fundraiser for the Parkway. Since its founding in 1997, it has provided more than $3.4 million to fund Parkway projects. In 2012, the Foundation funded projects at popular spots including Graveyard Fields near Waynesville. The Foundation also funds year-round initiatives like Parks as Classrooms, allowing rangers visit schools in Parkway communities to connect students with nature and the cultural heritage of the region.
With more than 16 million visitors a year, the Parkway is the most visited feature of the National Park Service, more so than Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon combined. Yet there is no entrance fees and declining federal budgets are forcing the Parkway to rely more on donations.