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Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Blue Ridge Pkwy. Plan — “Happy Motoring” Only? Comments are due December 16, 2011!


New Blue Ridge Pkwy. Plan — “Happy Motoring” Only?

by ADMIN on DECEMBER 6, 2011
An action alert for cyclists anywhere who enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway recently went through a park planning process and environmental impact review, and has released a Draft Management Plan that will set the stage for park management well into the future. Cyclists from near and far should take the time to comment on this plan, as it could have near-permanent impact on bicycling within the park, and on the Parkway itself.
Most troubling is an over-arching reference to the Parkway being “actively managed as a traditional, self-contained, scenic recreational driving experience…”
The Parkway was formed through legislation in 1936. Its managers seem to have a vision of retaining a “golden age” of that time. But let’s be realistic, a “traditional driving experience” in 1936 was far different than how users would choose to enjoy the Parkway in the 21st century.
Motorized vehicles should not be the only way promoted to experience the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Draft Plan also states that the Blue Ridge Parkway is applying forNational Historic Landmark status, as a way to manage the Parkway under the strain of diminishing National Park budgets. But this designation sets a bad precedent — one that cannot be easily undone. Under this status, any changes within the Parkway will go under intense historic and environmental review, called Section 106 process. This could halt or stagnate trail building, road maintenance, or future improvements for bicycle access. In addition, other National Parks could begin using this designation to preserve their status quo. Despite the growing interest in bicycling, Park managers wouldn’t have to, or perhaps be able to, accommodate cyclists or other non-motorized and alternative transportation users.
Parkway management’s preferred plan is Alternative B. None of the options proposed…

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