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The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks Program has received a $701,000 Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNCF) to expand the program into North Carolina’s state, county, and municipal parks as well as launch a National Technical Training and Resource Center for Kids in Parks.

In 2008, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Blue Ridge Parkway partnered with BCBSNCF to form the Kids in Parks initiative. With the initial investment of $204,000 by BCBSNCF, the Kids in Parks program has been able to install nine TRACK Trails, bring more than 35 partners together (including multiple state, federal and local agencies), and link public lands to each other and to the kids and families of the surrounding communities.


Organizers of WNC OutdoorAthlon will host a two-day festival on Oct. 8-9 in Franklin, featuring a wide variety of events and activities that will have something in store for everyone. Organizers hope the event will allow visitors, residents, and business owners to interact collectively in showing their appreciation for the area’s unique landscape. The event venue is located at Cullasaja Park just off the Greenway on the Highlands Road.

“We just wanted to put together an event for the community,” said organizer Rob Gasbarro. “This area has something that no other place has. Not New York, Orlando, or any other area. We feel like this will be a great opportunity to show people what Macon County really has to offer,” he said.


Western North Carolina is beginning to feel the effects of a new insect pest: the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. The bug was accidentally introduced from Asia and was first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2001. Since then, the bugs have been slowly increasing their range outward from Pennsylvania and are beginning to make their first forays into North Carolina.

Researchers at North Carolina State University are concerned about the stink bug’s arrival because it could potentially have huge impacts on the state’s agricultural crops. In states where the insect has become established, such as northern Virginia, eastern West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and south central Pennsylvania, some farmers in 2010 lost more than half of their crops.


Proposed camping fee for the Smokies in the hands of the Park

Officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park spent the month of August collecting public input on a proposed user fee to stay overnight in the Park's backcountry shelters.

Park officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have officially closed the public comment period regarding a proposed fee and changes in the process by which backpackers make reservations for overnight camping at the Park’s nearly 100 backcountry sites and shelters. Park officials intended to spend the rest of the year evaluating public comments before reaching a decision by January.


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