It’s no question the Blue Ridge Parkway is an asset to Franklin County as it weaves in and out of the county’s western side through neighboring Floyd County.
However, a short drive down the parkway reveals dozens of downed trees all along the road. While they are not hindering travel, they make for a sad sight. Time and weather have wreaked havoc on area trees as a natural process, but clearing them out of the roadway isn’t enough. Piles of rotting wood dot the scenic byway.
Ecologically, it is good for the shorter flowering shrubs and wildflowers that need extra sunlight as trees are thinned out, but scenery-wise, it’s an eyesore.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is maintained by the National Park Service, which did not return calls seeking information. It’s understandable that cleanup would take some time following the winter season, last year’s damage due to remnants of hurricanes Florence and Michael and the federal government shutdown. More than 460 miles of parkway stretched across two states and 84 million acres of land is a lot of work, but since the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most visited National Park sites, it would be nice to see those trees completely removed and not just lying dead along the road.
There are partner organizations such as the Friends of The Blue Ridge Parkway who volunteer time to maintain the overlooks by doing trash pick-up and removing invasive vegetation. The overlooks throughout the Franklin County stretch of parkway are looking good except for the downed and damaged trees piled up.