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July 22, 2014

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The National Park Service’s annual Heritage Day, held at Moses Cone Estate, will not be held this year due to mandated federal budget cuts. Jeff Eason photo

Originally published: 2013-03-22 09:03:31
Last modified: 2013-03-22 09:03:31

Parkway offerings reduced by cuts

For years, families visiting the High Country during the summer months have taken advantage of the free National Park Service offerings associated with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Some of those offerings will be on hold this year due to federal budget cuts.

“Because of the 5 percent budget reduction that is in place as a result of the current federally mandated sequestration, the parkway is unable to hire its full complement of seasonal employees,” said Freida Reaid, secretary to Super intendent Phil Francis of the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Therefore, park visitors will notice some facility closures and reduced hours and services in some areas.”

Locally, the sequestration and budget cuts have led to the cancellation of all ranger-led nature programs at Moses Cone Estate, Price Park, Price Lake, Price Lake Amphitheater, Linn Cove Viaduct Visitors Center and Bass Lake.

In years past, NPS rangers would lead free programs teaching families about wildlife, safety, weather, hiking and other subjects. In the summer, there would usually be three or four of these parkway programs scheduled each week.

The budget cuts have also led to the closing of several campgrounds, concession facilities, visitor centers and picnic areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Campgrounds that will be closed this year include Otter Creek Campground (milepost 60.8), Roanoke Mountain Campground (MP 120.4) and Crabtree Falls Campground (MP 339.5).

Concession facilities that will be closed this year include Otter Creek Restaurant (MP 60.8), Peaks of Otter Lodge (MP 85.6), Rocky Knob Rental Cabins (MP 169), Bluffs Lodge and Restaurant (MP 239.2) and Northwest Trading Post (MP 258.7).

Picnic areas that will be closed this year include James River Picnic Area (MP 63.6), Smart View Picnic Area (MP 154.5), Doughton Park Picnic Area (MP 241.1), Jeffers Park Picnic Area (MP 271.9) and Crabtree Falls Picnic Area (MP 340.2).

Visitor contact stations and areas of interest that will be closed this year include James River Visitor Center (MP 63.6), Rocky Knob Visitor Center (MP 169) and Crabtree Falls Visitor Center (MP 339.5).

Locally, Price Park Campground (MP 296.9) and Linville Falls Campground (MP 316.4) are scheduled to open May 24. The Parkway Craft Center at the Moses Cone Manor opened on March 15.

The Price Park boat rental shop will open on April 6.

The Linville Falls picnic area will open April 5.

Moses Cone Manor House and Blue Ridge Parkway Craft Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Ellen Schaller, the Craft Center receives its funding from different sources than the National Park Service.

The center’s Educational Demonstration Program that brings artisans and craftspeople to the front porch of the Moses Cone Manor will continue this year.

“I am working on the schedule for that program right now,” Schaller said. “Our first demonstration will be May 2-5, and we’ll have two glass artists giving demonstrations on the porch.”

According the parkway superintendent’s office, Moses Cone Manor tours will be available by reservation after June 1.

“We regret that reductions to our usual visitor service may cause some inconvenience for park visitors and will keep the public informed if the situation changes,” Reaid said. “As a unit of the National Park Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway remains committed to its mission to serve the public and preserve our nation’s resources for future generations.”

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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