Specialty license plates preserved
You’ve seen these plates: whether a bear or the Parkway there are thousands of them across the State. You may even have one on your car, and if you don’t, you can go get one today and keep it, thanks to the efforts of the community of supporters of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
These two groups have the most popular specialty plates in North Carolina and when you see them driving down the road, you have many friends to thank.
Thanks to vocal citizens and state elected officials in Raleigh, in the wee hours of Thursday night, the General Assembly passed SB 571 protecting citizens’ right to sport their existing plate (or get a new one!) without fear of recall.
In 2011, a bill passed which would have removed all of these colorful plates from the roads in North Carolina in 2015 and with it much of the millions in revenue that these plates produce for the State and for the two most visited units of the National Park Service: the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
With parks that physically link together, it no wonder that Holly Demuth, North Carolina Director of the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation joined their two organizations together to work to protect the full color Specialty Plate program.
“We care deeply about our Parks and the revenue that people can provide to them. This program is critical to ensuring that we are able to continue to fund educational programs, visitor services and environmental protection projects for both our Parks,” said Ward.
“We could not be happier for the entire state and for the two iconic parks that we both represent. This program allows full color specialty plate holders in this state to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to help us meet the growing needs of our parks,” said Demuth.
The Parks need revenue now more than ever due to declining federal support. Because of the bravery and leadership of many legislators including Senators Tom Apodaca, Ralph Hise, Martin Nesbitt, Andrew Brock, and Pete Brunstetter and Representatives Frank Iler, Bill Brawley, Deborah Conrad and others, anyone can get a plate, show their colors and support our parks. We would also like to extend thanks to Senators Ron Rabin, Bill Rabon, Kathy Harrington and Representatives Sarah Stevens, Harry Warren and John Torbett.
“Every specialty license plate holder is contributing to the support of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that translates to billons in revenue for our State,” said Ward.
“We could not do it without the support from so many,” said Demuth.
About the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation:
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the primary fundraiser and trusted steward of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Foundation is forever committed to preserving the past, enhancing the present, and safeguarding the future of America’s Favorite Journey®. We are proud to serve and support this extraordinary environment that connects the spirit of countless people through a twisting ribbon of mountain road. We are a strong defender of the Parkway, funding needed projects that enhance and protect the natural, cultural, historic, and recreational qualities that make the Blue Ridge Parkway an American treasure. For more information visit www.brpfoundation.org
About the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park:
Since 1993, the not-for-profit Friends of the Smokies organization has raised more than $40 million to help maintain Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a crown jewel of the national park system, including the establishment of the $4 million Trails Forever endowment to improve Smoky Mountain hiking trails in perpetuity. For more information visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org .