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Be a REAL Friend to the Blue Ridge Parkway

Everyone in Virginia who loves and appreciates what has been called “America’s Favorite Scenic Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway, has a landmark opportunity to make a difference for its future. However the window of opportunity is fast closing.

“FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway” is making a push to secure Virginia’s own specialty license plate – similar to the popular plate more than 23,000 drivers sport in neighboring North Carolina, which translates to $500,000 every year for their stretch of parkway. According to Richard Wells, Board President Emeritus of FRIENDS, “you can’t drive anywhere in that state without seeing the distinctive yellow-and-green tags,” something he hopes will soon echo in Virginia.

The proposed Virginia plate is an attractive “cousin” to the North Carolina plate, has an understated outdoorsy look – with lots of color – a golden yellow background with an evergreen tree silhouette beside a gently curving road, emblematic of the inviting gorgeous winding drive the Parkway offers through several states.

In light of the fact that parkway maintenance employees have been cut by 40% over recent years, alternative funding via non-profit “friends of the parks” organizations is becoming ever more vital. The license plate program offers citizens a chance to promote the parkway both visually and financially.

The deadline for achieving the 350 applications needed to start a parkway plate in Virginia is the end of November. “The cost is $25, most of which will be used to supplement much needed Parkway projects along the Virginia sections of the Parkway,” according to Wells.

He adds, “One key area of focus for FRIENDS is viewshed protection. The non-profit has planted thousands of trees in recent years to buffer views of nearby urban development. Going forward, the maintenance and clearing of overgrown overlooks will be addressed. Once established, the plates that Virginia drivers purchase will join North Carolina’s in supporting America’s Favorite Scenic Drive.”

So far, there are applications in for all but 66 of the 350 required, but there is now less than half a month remaining to get the project underway. The win-win plate initiative is just on the edge of reaching the goal … giving many Parkway supporters great optimism but also a sense of urgency as they know that the 350 minimum must be reached.

Wells says, “That’s where you and I come in … to help the cause and the cash-strapped Parkway. If you’re ready to sign up or need more information about the program, go online to or call the FRIENDS office in Roanoke at 1.800.228.7275.”

The office can mail forms or they can be accessed online and printed and mailed in with the $25 fee to FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway, P.O. Box 20986, Roanoke VA 24018.

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