Thanks to $21,820 in funding from the National Park Service (NPS), Dr. Mark Spond, Appalachian State University’s liaison to the NPS, has completed a condition assessment of agricultural parcels adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway — a 469-mile road that snakes along the central and southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.

NPS, which owns the parcels, leases the land through a Special Use Permit for a period of five years as part of its Agricultural Lease Program. The leases provide a modest source of revenue for NPS and promote the pastoral setting along portions of the parkway, Spond shared.

“In permitting agricultural use of NPS lands, the parkway is required to foster practices, which conserve soil, protect streams and groundwater, control exotic plant species and avoid toxic contamination of the environment,” the NPS website states.

Spond said NPS will use the information collected from the assessment in fall 2018 to require correction prior to the renewal of an agricultural lease permit and/or may create best management practice statements that need to be included in the permit and carried out during the permit’s term.

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Originally published March 15, 2019.