Submitted by Rita Larkin, Communications Director, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
On Friday, Feb. 17, the Virginia General Assembly approved the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s specialty license plate. Proceeds from sales will support enhancements and programs along the country’s most visited national park.
Thanks to Parkway supporters, the Foundation exceeded the 450 pre-orders required to secure approval for the license plate.This will be the only specialty plate in the commonwealth solely dedicated to funding projects and programs along the Parkway.
“We are so grateful to all the Virginians who placed a pre-order for the plate and helped us create a new source of support for the national park in their backyard,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
In 2022, the park welcomed more than 15.7 million visitors. Unlike many large national parks, the parkway does not charge an admission fee, making the scenic route more vulnerable to shortfalls in government funding, maintenance backlogs, and building closures.
The plate legislation garnered widespread support, ranging from Augusta County to the Roanoke Regional Chamber to Patrick County.
In a letter of support, Kimberly Davis, executive director of the Friends of Southwest Virginia, wrote: “The Parkway is a significant economic driver for Southwest Virginia. Additionally, the work of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has had a tremendous impact in both Virginia and North Carolina, and this license plate project will help the foundation support projects and programs on the parkway for years to come.”
The specialty plate fee is $25, of which $15 will go toward key improvements along the parkway, including repairs at trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas. Funding will also support projects such as wildlife studies, historic preservation, and educational programs. A personalized plate is available for $35. The specialty plate is available for vehicles and motorcycles.
The DMV will soon begin the steps to get plates into production. The foundation will continue to accept pre-orders for the plate at GetThePlate.org until Friday, March 31. Those who have pre-ordered by that date will be the first group to receive the plate in the mail. Others will have to wait until the plate is listed on the DMV’s website this summer. Production of the plate is estimated to take a few months, so plates will likely begin to arrive in July or August.
Since 1997, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has provided more than $20 million in support for the parkway, including historical and cultural preservation, environmental protection, visitor amenities, and education and outreach. To improve the health of children and help them connect to the outdoors, the foundation started the Kids in Parks program, which features five TRACK Trails on the parkway in Virginia. The foundation funds music programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, which celebrates the musical traditions of the region with bluegrass, old-time, Americana, and country blues performances.
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