Friday, November 20, 2015

Press Release

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Leverages Clean Water Grant for the Middle Fork Greenway 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        
Contact: Ann Browning

Middle Fork Greenway Executive Director

BOONE, N.C. (November 2015)
–The Middle Fork Greenway (MFG) initiative took a significant leap forward with the announcement today of a donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and the award of a grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF). A $168,750 donation by BCBSNC to the Blue Ridge Conservancy provides matching funds for the $196,192 CWMTF grant. The combined funds will be used to purchase a 12 acre tract along approximately two-thirds of a mile of the Middle Fork of the South Fork New River, enabling an extension of the existing greenway and the connection of two pocket parks. With its wide buffer along the Middle Fork hosting rhododendron and other native plants, MFG leaders believe this tract will house a particularly beautiful stretch of the greenway.

“Our support of the Middle Fork Greenway project ties directly to our mission of making life better for everyone living in our state,” said Kathy Higgins, vice president of corporate affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “North Carolinians are fortunate to live in a place with such gorgeous open spaces, providing us with a host of opportunities to get outside and lead active lives. The MFG is a great idea on every level and we’re eager to see more North Carolinians enjoying it.”

“A goal of the emerging Middle Fork Greenway is conservation of land along the banks of the Middle Fork, one of the head waters of the New River,” said Blue Ridge Conservancy Executive Director, Walter Clark. “We are so grateful to BCBSNC and the CWMTF for making it possible for our residents and visitors to have access to beautiful natural areas through the Middle Fork Greenway. The contributions by these two statewide organizations are wonderful examples of the private/public partnerships that are developing to make the MFG a reality.”

Funds to construct the greenway on the 12 acre tract are being pursued. Once the trail is constructed, almost two miles of the 6.5 mile greenway will be completed. Other current priorities for the MFG include securing funding to complete construction on the Chestnut Ridge and National Park Service properties near Blowing Rock and advancing the Boone section through the Wellness District to connect to the Boone Greenway.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.91 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) is a foundation established to assist conservation non-profits, local governments and state agencies for the protection of surface waters in North Carolina. Created in response to growing concerns about the rivers, streams and other surface water bodies in the state and their ability to support local economies dependent on these waters, the legislature introduced the program that would take an innovative and non-regulatory approach to the protection and restoration of the surface waters all across the state.

The Middle Fork Greenway (MFG) is a developing pedestrian and cycling greenway trail along the Middle Fork River and US 321 corridor connecting Boone and Blowing Rock. It is being led by two non-profit organizations, Blue Ridge Conservancy and High Country Pathways, in partnership with local governments and many community partners. For more information: and

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Public Meeting Nov. 18

Watauga County, in partnership with
Blue Ridge Conservancy & High Country Pathways,
is holding a public meeting to inform and seek input on
the Middle Fork Greenway.

 Where: American Legion Building
333 Wallingford St.,  Blowing Rock
Where: Wednesday, November 18, 4:00-6:00 pm
Format: Drop-in with presentation at 5:00

~Find out about the latest developments
~Help provide support for grant applications
~Provide your thoughts and ideas

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pictures from a Dedication, September 22, 2015

The highlight of Tuesday's Dedication was a Seisin Ceremony, a ritual dating back to the days of freehold estates, in which the grantors of property presented the grantees with a clump of dirt and, in return, the grantees gave a bunch of leaves and twigs.   In these pictures, Sterling and Barbara Whitener and family members are shown presenting  a cup of earth from Sterling Creek Park to Eric Hiegl, Blue Ridge Conservancy Director of Land Protection & Stewardship, and Watauga County representatives Joe Furman, Director of Planning & Inspections & Economic Development, and Stephen Poulos, Director of Parks & Recreation.  In exchange, Eric, Joe, Stephen, and Ann Browning, Executive Director of Middle Fork Greenway, presented the Whiteners with a basket of leaves, thus sealing the transaction.  

In 2005 Sterling and Barbara Whitener and Donald and Elizabeth Whitener donated their 3.658-acre parcel along the west side of the Middle Fork of the South Fork of the New River to Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust to preserve and protect its natural beauty forever from all development with the exception of the development of a greenway trail and a small park beside it for the peaceful enjoyment of the public.

Since late Fall, 2014, when the 0.9-mile section of the paved greenway trail from Tweetsie, through Mystery Hill, the DOT culvert, to and through the donated Whitener property was completed, the volunteers of the Middle Fork Greenway Task Force have been busily sawing dead trees, removing stumps, grading, pruning, clearing brush, sowing grass seed, planting milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies, and building and installing picnic tables--to prepare Sterling Creek Park for public use.  Plans are for New River Conservancy to fortify  the park's streambanks with several varieties of native livestakes and rooted plants this fall, and for volunteers to gather one Saturday in October to carpet bare sections of the riparian buffer with native shrubs which will be donated by The Mustard Seed.

Walk, run or ride your bike from Tweetsie to Sterling Creek Park.  Pack your lunch and sit at one of our picnic tables (lumber for two generously donated by Watauga Building Supply, and two donated by Lowes Building Supply).  Fish in the sterling stream, chase a  leaf, sit on a boulder and read a book, recite a poem, pick up litter, and thank your lucky stars, as we do everyday, that there are people like the Whiteners willing to share the beauty of their land with all of us.                                                           photos by Karen Keys

Sterling & Barbara Whitener, Beth Goode, daughter of Donald & Elizabeth Whitener, Dana Whitener Froetschel, Barbi Whitener


Friday, September 18, 2015

Sterling Creek Park Dedication

We're dedicating Sterling Creek Park on Tuesday, September 22, 
12 noon to 1:30 pm, rain or shine!

Come, have lunch beside the river, and celebrate this beautiful place!

106 Whitener Mountain Road
Blowing Rock
(across the highway from Doc's Rocks/Mystery Hill)

 You may park on the grass beside the highway and walk down Whitener Mtn Road to the park, or park at the southern end of Tweetsie and walk on the greenway trail through the culvert beneath the highway.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Transcendental Transportation

You can drive...

Getting There

but do you really want to?

Wouldn't you rather walk?

-Turkey photo by Amy Cooke

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pictures from a Celebration

April 23 was a windy day on the greenway section at Mystery Hill but that didn't stop us from celebrating. Many of the fifty-five local business owners and seven individuals who had joined Brad Moretz and his sister, Brenda Speckmann, of Appalachian Ski Mountain, in a whirlwind Easter Weekend Fundraising Drive for the Middle Fork Greenway, gathered, and were thanked for their incredible support.  The funds raised will be used to match grants being sought for surveys, environmental site assessments, engineering and permitting costs to secure easements along the proposed route.

In paying tribute to the donors, Executive Director Ann
Browning said, "These wonderful donors raised a total
of $48,350 for the Middle Fork Greenway!
Investment from the local community is one of the most
important criteria that granting organizations
consider when evaluating applications.  We are overwhelmed
by the support of our local businesses."

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Saturday at App Ski Mountain

On Easter Saturday at Appalachian Ski Mountain, the sun shone, the wind blew, and skiers and snowboarders from near and far came down the slopes in a steady stream throughout the day. The Easter Weekend event to benefit the greenway was the inspiration of ASM President Brad Moretz, who reached out to more than fifty local businesses and individuals  to donate a percentage of their proceeds to the  project.

Jerry Sumner & John Lanman
MFG Task Force members were in full array to chat with visitors about the project.

              Judith Phoenix
Brad Moretz, Ann Browning, Judith Phoenix
Ben Edwards & Eva Rand

Thanks to App Ski Mtn and our wonderful sponsors and supporters (see list below)!



Thursday, February 12, 2015


Easter Ski Weekend, at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock, will feature 50% discounted ski tickets, and custom packages with local area attractions and lodging.  All ski ticket sales on Saturday will be donated to the Middle Fork Greenway Initiative.
     After a traditional March 29 closing day, Appalachian's slopes will re-open to skiers and snowboarders for this special benefit from 9am-6pm on Saturday, April 4, and also on Easter Sunday, April 5.
     Ski tickets will be discounted up to 50% off normal rates for guests who stay at any High Country lodging facility or for any local resident (Watauga, Avery, Ashe, Johnson, Caldwell, or Wilkes County).  Special "3-for-the-price-of-1" packages are also available for a ski ticket and a choice of two local attractions:  The Blowing Rock Attraction, Doc's Rocks Gem Mine, Grandfather Mountain, or Mystery Hill.
     "Each dollar that we can raise through events like this is critical to leveraging matching funds to purchase greenway property or complete greenway development," said Brad Moretz. "We believe the Middle Fork Greenway will further define the Boone/Blowing Rock area as a premier recreation destination."
    In addition to Saturday's ski ticket sales, leading sponsors Yadkin Bank, ECR Software, Mast General Store and over 50 Tourism industry partners* are collaborating to donate a percentage of Easter Weekend revenues to the Middle Fork Greenway Initiative.
     "We are profoundly grateful to Appalachian Ski Mountain for this generous show of support," said MFG Executive Director Ann Browning.  "The response from so many businesses to join in a weekend of activities benefitting the Middle Fork Greenway is remarkable.  In addition to the funds raised to advance the project, this broad demonstration of support from the business community recognizes the value that the greenway will bring to our region's portfolio of recreational options." 

*Thanks to our Amazing Contributing Partners! (more will be added as their names become available):
Yadkin Bank (Sponsor) 
ECR Software Corp. (Sponsor)
Mast General Store (Sponsor) 
Alpen Acres Motel:   25% of lodging revenue/Easter Saturday
Damon Anagnos, MD, Plastic Surgery
Appalachian Mountain Brewery:   15% of Easter Saturday revenues
Appalachian Ski Mountain:   All ski ticket revenues/ Easter Saturday
Basil's Fresh Pasta & Deli:   25% of sales/ Easter Saturday
Black Cat Burrito, Boone: 10% of revenues/ Easter Saturday
The Blowing Rock Attraction:   Admission sales/ Easter
Blowing Rock Brewing Co.:   25% of beer sales
Blowing Rock Inn:   25% of lodging revenue/Easter Saturday
Blowing Rock Market: 25% of revenue from Easter Sat. Oyster Roast
Boone Drug, Inc.
Carolina Mountain Lodge: 25% of lodging revenue/Easter Saturday
Cheeseburgers Grille:   25% of revenue/ Easter Saturday  
Chetola Resort:   25% of lodging revenue/ Easter Saturday
Comfort Suites of Boone:   25% of lodging revenue/ Easter Saturday
Dianne Davant & Associates: $500
Doc's Rocks Gem Mine:   $2 per person/ Easter Saturday
Fairfield Inn & Suites, Boone:  25% of lodging revenue/ Easter Saturday
Farm to Flame:   15% of Easter Saturday revenues
Foggy Rock Eatery & Pub:   $500
Jane Fonvielle:   $100
Footsloggers: 25% of sales/Easter Saturday
Foscoe Rentals/Echota: % of condo rentals/ Easter Saturday
French-Swiss Ski College:   All lesson revenues/ Easter Saturday
Gaines Kiker, Silversmith: $100
Grandfather Mountain:   All admission sales/Easter Sat./Online Sales
Green Park Inn:   25% of lodging revenue/ Easter Saturday
Hemlock Inn: $250
Highland Hills Motel & Cabins:  25% of lodging revenue/Easter Saturday
Adam E. Hill, DDS, PA:   $500
The Inn at Ragged Gardens:   25% of lodging revenue/ Easter Saturday
Jenkins Rentals:   5% of rental commissions/ Easter Friday & Saturday
Kilwin's of Blowing Rock:   $500
La Quinta Inn & Suites, Boone: 25% of lodging revenue/Easter Saturday
Lost Province Brewing Co.: 15% of beer sales/Easter Saturday
Magic Cycles: $500
Makoto's Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar:25% of revenue/Easter Sat.
Meadowbrook Inn: $500
Melanie's Food Fantasy:  25% of revenue/ Easter Saturday
Mellow Mushroom (Boone & Blowing Rock): 25% of sales/Easter Sat.
Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins: 25% of lodging revenue/Easter Sat.
Mystery Hill: All admission sales/ Easter Sunday
New Public House & Hotel: 25% of lodging revenue/Easter Fri. & Sat.nites
Norwood's Commercial Appliances: $500
Jim & Suzie Parnell: $100
Pepper's Restaurant & Bar: 25% of revenue/ Easter Saturday
Rays Weather: Advertising Benefit Weekend
Recess Ride Shop: To Be Determined
Red Onion CafĂ©:  25% of revenue/ Easter Saturday
Roots Restaurant:  25% of revenue/ Easter Saturday
Xan Sanders: $20
Jim & Suzanne Shaut: $100
Sleep Inn, Boone: 25% of lodging revenue/ Easter Saturday
StickBoy Bread Company: 25% of bread sales/Easter Saturday
Sunset Tees & Hattery, Blowing Rock: $500
Super Eight, Boone: 25% of lodging revenue/Easter Saturday
The Ethel & George Kennedy Family Foundation/The Herterich Fund: $1,500
The TApp Room:   25% of revenue/Easter Saturday
Ed Winebarger: $7