Blue Ridge Parkway Corps
The Blue Ridge Parkway Corps is a partnership between Appalachian State University and the National Park Service, established to provide a volunteer presence along the trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor. The intent of this presence is to educate visitors on how they can best preserve and protect the unique and sensitive environment in the Rough Ridge area and encourage its responsible use. Parkway Corps volunteers also engage in outreach to educate the public about the Parkway, its preservation, and in projects to improve the trails along the Parkway.
For more information, check out this recent video on the program.
Over the past few years, Appalachian State University has made a significant effort to develop a positive relationship with the National Park Service. This effort has resulted in the development of a Parkway Liaison office on campus, the development of the first university chapter of Friends of the BRP, an academic class dedicated to researching park interaction issues, and now the Blue Ridge Parkway Corps. During the 2007-2008 academic year, Parkway interests on campus worked together with the Park Service to determine how the ASU community could best address Parkway issues in the High Country. The Park Service identified Rough Ridge hiking area as an area of significant concern. Parkway officials and biologists have had increasing problems with users going off trail in this sensitive area. Research was conducted by the academic class on campus, and it was found that there were indeed many hikers that went off trail in the area. As a result of this research, a series of recommendations were made to the NPS and ASU on how to potentially address the issue. One of the main recommendations was to have a “presence” in the area that would encourage hikers to stay in designated areas, leave dogs and other pets at home, and to educate hikers on why this is ecologically important. The Blue Ridge Parkway Corps was developed as a direct response to this recommendation. Since the project was initiated, it has gained great support from all of the Parkway interests on campus. The funding was provided by the University to support the project and to fund a Graduate Assistantship responsible for overseeing the Corps which has been housed in the Outdoor Programs Office on campus. The Corps began volunteer shifts in the Fall of 2008, and as of Winter 2009 the Corps has been present for over 5,000 user visits to the Rough Ridge area.
To Get Involved...
- Contact Valerie Brey, the Parkway Corps Coordinator at (828)262-4954.
General Responsibilities Include:
- Attend Parkway Corps meetings, trainings, and other events as designated
- Complete approximately two weekend volunteer shifts at Rough Ridge per month
- Special events may include: trail work, presentations, and helping with special BRP projects (e.g. treating Hemlocks along the Parkway for Wooly Adelgid infestation)
- Become a committed advocate for the mission/cause of the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Serve as a potential liaison between the Parkway, OP, and ASU
- Provide feedback and recommendations to Parkway, OP, and ASU staff
- Become certified in First Aid/CPR (will be made available through OP)
For more information email Valerie Brey, Blue Ridge Parkway Corps Coordinator at (828)262-4954.