Senators join effort to buy, protect Blue Ridge Parkway land

Posted January 27, 2010 12:56 a.m. EST

— In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr joined Virginia Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner in introducing a bill Tuesday that would seek federal money to buy up to 50,000 acres along the scenic roadway.

Each year, nearly 20 million people visit the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs for 469 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. The popular tourist attraction generates about $2.3 billion in economic activity in both states annually.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Protection Act will authorize $75 million over five years to buy land adjacent to the roadway.

The legislation would also allow the National Park Service to protect the parkway's views from being overshadowed by homes and businesses.