Growing Greenways: What We Imagine CAN Become Real

By Ann Babcock

Maybe you’ve experienced being  on your bicycle or walking along a path by a river.  It’s a beautiful day to be  outdoors with your kids and/or friends.  You stop at a park along the way for a picnic lunch before continuing.  Your kids are happy, and you’re getting some much-needed exercise and clear the cobwebs of stress from your brain.

But rather than walking or biking home from this breath of fresh air, you have to get in your car to safely return home.

What is wrong with this picture?  

At Connect Buncombe, we envision a network of connected greenways that allows you to not only play at these linear parks, but commute by them, too. Imagine greenways connecting you to your neighbors across the county, your community, your groceries, your work, and your health.

On May 19, Connect Buncombe and NC Parks and Recreation hosted a workshop at the North Carolina Arboretum called Growing Greenways: Cultivating Support and Success in WNC.  The purpose of this event was to encourage and empower greenway supporters in western North Carolina to explore existing resources for greenway development and look at methods that other areas have used to achieve success.  Our presenters were engaging and helpful and many participants went away with renewed enthusiasm for “making greenways happen” in their area.  

Especially thought provoking was Ed McMahon, our keynote speaker from the Urban Land Institute.  He presented many examples of community enhancement and livability in places where greenways connect people and destinations.  Distilled, his emphasis was on the undeniable benefit of greenways to:

  • Public health
  • Economic development benefits, particularly to the revitalization of many towns.  
  • Transportation alternatives and trends
  • Value and benefit to connection to residential areas.  

All of these facts are important tools which can and should be laid before our elected officials.

If you did not come to the Growing Greenways workshop, consider studying some the statistics presented in the links above and take a look at the this Resource List


Join Connect Buncombe in the movement to make greenways happen! Here’s how you can help:

* Contact your County Commissioners to tell them you value greenways. Let them know the the urgency of implementing the County Master Plan for Trails and Greenways and join as a Friend of Connect Buncombe today.

* Donate to Connect Buncombe to help us fulfill our mission of a county-wide greenway system;

* And, most important, get out on a greenway to walk, run, bike, skate–recreate! Bring a friend or family member and share in the joy of the great outdoors in our beautiful mountains.

Together, we can Connect Buncombe!


Want to learn more about the Growing Greenways event? Check out the photo album here!


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