The Three Stages of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Management Plan
Each National Heritage Area is required to submit a Ten-Year Management Plan to the Department of the Interior for approval. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area developed its plan in three stages: (1) the creation of local heritage development plans for the Qualla Boundary and for each of the 25 counties within the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area; (2) seven regional strategy sessions, conducted during the month of September, 2005; and (3) the final drafting of the Management Plan with an associated Environmental Assessment.
Grassroots Volunteers Help Preserve Blue Ridge History and Heritage
The first stage was a massive grassroots undertaking. The BRNHA enlisted the help of staff from Western Carolina University and five of the State of North Carolina’s Heritage Tourism Development Officers, who coordinated and facilitated the planning process. Literally thousands of volunteer hours were invested in the plans, all of which can be found on the Local Heritage Plans page of this website.
After all 26 local plans were completed, local volunteers were called together with state and national experts, in a series of seven regional meetings, to build upon the local plans and develop regional perspectives and strategies.
Collaborations with the National Park Service and other Partners
A preliminary draft of the BRNHA Management Plan, representing the cumulative efforts of hundreds of Western North Carolina’s most creative and civic-minded citizens, was submitted to the National Park Service in late 2006. The BRNHA then engaged Equinox Environmental Consultation and Design, Inc. to conduct an Environmental Assessment with the assistance of an Interdisciplinary Team of federal, state, local, and tribal government representatives. After several periods of public review, Equinox worked with the BRNHA Staff to prepare the final draft of the Management Plan.
The BRNHA Management Plan with Environmental Assessment was approved by the Department of the Interior in August, 2008.