Blue Ridge Parkway Regional Destination Visitor Center

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The National Park Service, Southeast Regional Director has approved the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The FONSI has determined that there will be no significant environmental impacts that would occur by locating the proposed Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Visitor Center adjacent to Parkway Headquarters on Hemphill Knob, clearing the way for construction of the 12,000-square foot facility to begin next spring.

Acting Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said today that construction should take an estimated 18 months, so that the center could open as early as fall of 2007. This is contingent on receiving final Congressional funding.

Francis said that completing the environmental analysis and review "puts us one step closer to achieving our long-time goal of having a center that would orient visitors to the Parkway and region." He noted that Asheville is the Parkway's greatest point of access and that many arriving visitors have little idea about the significance of the Parkway or the many things to see and do in the region. He said the center, "should give visitors a much greater appreciation for the history, culture and natural resources of both the Parkway and the region."

Planning for the facility and its eventual operation is being done as a partnership between the National Park Service and the recently established Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

Current plans call for the new center to include high-tech, interactive exhibits about the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the natural and human history of the region that it passes through, a 70-seat digital theater, reception desk and bookstore, and classroom space for visiting students. The center will also offer orientation and information on things to see and do in neighboring communities.

Contact Information

Gary Johnson (828) 271-4779 ext. 210