Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sky over Brookshire Park, Feb. 6, 2016

Amy Cooke took this picture of Canada geese this morning on the monthly High Country Audubon Society nature walk along the South Fork New River trail at Brookshire Park, 250 Brookshire Road, Boone.

The walks begin at the parking area near the Brookshire Park picnic shelter, go down the greenway, and loop around the sparrow fields on the way back, for a total distance of about one mile.  They are led by Guy McGrane, and held 8-10 a.m. the first Saturday of every month, rain or shine. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Festival of Trees at Chetola December 3-6

Tree Decorating at Chetola!


Members of more than seventy-five groups
gathered at Chetola, in Blowing Rock, on December 2 to decorate Christmas trees and wreaths for the Festival of Trees.  The trees, with all their decorations and a variety of great gifts beneath them, are on display December 3-6, and will be auctioned off to the highest bidder this weekend, with all proceeds benefitting Watauga Youth Network.   Here are some pictures showing MFG Task Force members Dick and Joan Hearn, Kay Landis, and Anne Burgess working on the Middle Fork Greenway tree.
Go and see for yourself all the beautiful trees and wreaths! The schedule is posted below.

photos by Karen Keys 





The trees and wreaths are on display in Chetola's Appalachian/Blue Ridge Room
the following days and hours:
Thurs. Dec. 3, 5-10 pm
Fri. Dec. 4, 2-10 pm
Sat. Dec. 5, 10 am-10 pm
Sun. Dec. 6, 10 am-2 pm
You may make your bid there,
or bid online:
www.32auctions.com/FOT

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
704-907-4394

annhbrowning@aol.com

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 bcbsnc.com. 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: www.middleforkgreenway.org and www.blueridgeconservancy.org.

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)!