• The long vistas are part of a Blue Ridge Parkway experience

    Blue Ridge

    Parkway NC,VA

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  • Phone System Down at Julian Price Campground

    The phone system at JP Campground, MP 296.9, is currently out of order. Please refer to recreation.gov to make or change any reservations. For additional questions please refer to the camping opportunities section of our website. More »

  • ONE LANE TRAFFIC CONTROL, MP 241 - 242.4

    REMINDER: Roadwork continues in a one-mile section of Parkway, commonly known as Ice Rock, from MP242.4 at Alligator Back Parking Area to MP241. The project involves twenty-four-hour, one-lane traffic control until November 1, 2014.

Nonnative Species

Nature and Science

Purple Loosestrife

Managing and preserving natural resources, including Southern Appalachian ecosystems, individual native species and cultural landscapes, along a 469-mile ribbon of land with some 1,200 miles of boundary is extremely difficult. Because of its linear character, Blue Ridge Parkway lands are susceptible to invasion by exotic plants and animals from adjacent lands.

With thousands of "cut and fill" slopes, more than 3,000 vista openings and more than 1,000 utility and roadway crossings, the Parkway contains an unusually large number of "disturbance" habitats for pioneer and often exotic plant species. In the Southern Appalachian highland forest landscape, exotic thickets and groves are aesthetic intrusions. They often obscure native flora and give visitors a false image of the area's natural vegetation. Furthermore, exotic plant invasion can lead to elimination of some species of local flora. Exotic vine species such as kudzu, honeysuckle and bittersweet prevent mature forests from developing by suppressing tree emergence and growth.

Control of an exotic plant species is a long-term commitment since non-natives are prolific seed producers and often become well established in an area within one or two years. Many of these species also have long-lived seed viability, further enhancing their establishment. Abandonment of a control area can actually result in enhancement of exotic populations. Consequently, Parkway staff must look for new exotic species that might establish themselves in these newly disturbed areas.

Several non-native animals can also pose problems to our native species. Eastern bluebird populations dropped significantly as the more aggressive European starlings took over available nesting cavities. Introduced brown and rainbow trout have displaced brook trout from many aquatic systems, forcing our only native trout to move further and further upstream. The list of nonnative species extends down to invertebrates, including earthworms and crayfish, and even fungi. The introduced chestnut blight fungus wiped out American chestnut trees throughout the Southern Appalachian forests, and the balsam woolly aphid has destroyed spruce forests at our highest elevations.

Did You Know?

Graceful curves and old fences along the Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway was designed as a recreational motor road, connecting Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks.