Connecting Boone and Blowing Rock
The Middle Fork Greenway Association, an all-volunteer non-profit organization, is promoting the development of a greenway along the headwaters of the New River between Blowing Rock and Boone.
A hiking and bicycling trail along the Middle Fork's buffer of native trees, shrubs and grasses will connect the sidewalks and trails of Blowing Rock with the Boone Greenway.
In Phase 1 of the project, a $32,000 grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund paid for surveys and environmental site assessments to secure several sites, some of which are in various stages of development as parks.
The parks, at the Payne Branch, Goldmine Branch and Sterling Creek tributaries, will provide picnic tables, benches and information about the natural and cultural history of the communities that grew up along the headwaters of one of the oldest river systems in the world.
The goal of Phase 2 is to develop a 0.9-mile pilot segment extending from the 3.7-acre Sterling Creek Park site, on the east side of U.S. 321, through the riparian portions of the Mystery Hill and Tweetsie properties, on the west side.
Crucial to the segment is raising funds to pay for engineering, design, and permitting of a pedestrian/bicycle underpass through the N.C. Department of Transportation box culvert between Sterling Creek Park and Mystery Hill. With government grants drastically cut, MFGA is appealing to local businesses and individuals to help. As soon as sufficient funds become available, the engineering process will begin.
In June 2011, Watauga County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the N.C. Community Foundation, awarded MFGA a grant of $2,000 to support Middle Fork Greenway Phase 2: Underpass through a Highway Culvert. The grant was made possible by the Armfield and Rachel Rivers Coffey Memorial Fund.
In May, MFGA received $500 donations for underpass engineering from two local businesses, Mast General Store and Chetola Resort.
MFGA meets regularly the second Monday of each month, from 5 to 6:15 p.m., at the Boone Town Council Chambers, located at 1500 Blowing Rock Road. The public is welcome to attend.
To learn more about the project, visit http://www.middleforkgreenway.org.
To contribute, contact Middle Fork Greenway Association, 3740 U.S. 321 South, Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605. For more information, call (828) 264-3754. MFGA is a non-profit organization, and contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.