Representatives from Maryland in attendance included (left to right): Denise Lovelady, Sen. Andy Harris Eastern Shore Office; Cassandra Vanhooser, Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway, Talbot County Tourism; Terry Maxwell, Maryland Scenic Byways Program, MD SHA; and Kathy Mackal, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, Caroline County Tourism.
Congressman Sam Farr (CA-20) was the evening’s recipient of the Scenic Hero award for his career-long commitment to scenic byways in California. He credited the designation of the Pacific Coast Highway as the nation’s first scenic highway with helping to preserve Monterey Bay.
Eric Hamilton (left), National Scenic Byway Foundation Board Member and Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Executive Director, enjoys the program alongside Bonnie Quill, Director of the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway in Alaska.
Shuan Butcher, Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, presented AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright with a Scenic Byway Trailblazer Award to recognize AASHTO and the State DOTs for their leadership in championing Scenic Byways since 1991. Also pictured are (far left) Rob Draper, Chair of the National Scenic Byway Foundation, and (far right) Hal Kassoff, Scenic America Board of Directors.
The Delaware Scenic Byways Program was well represented by Jennifer Pilcher, Small Business Administration, Delaware District Office; Thomas “Chip” Kneavel, Planning Project Manager, Delaware DOT; Ann Gravatt, Planning Supervisor, Delaware DOT; and State Scenic Byway Coordinator Mike Hahn, Delaware DOT.
Scenic Byways 25!
On Tuesday evening, December 6th, byway supporters joined Congressional leaders to recognize and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Scenic Byways Program. The Scenic Byways 25! event was held in Washington, DC at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. Congressional Hosts for the evening were David Cicilline (RI-1), Ted Poe (TX-2), John Delaney (MD-6) and Sam Farr (CA-20). The reception was sponsored by the National Scenic Byway Foundation, Scenic America and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.
In his opening remarks, Rob Draper, Chair of the National Scenic Byway Foundation, affirmed that byways create a sense of place, entice travelers, boost local businesses, and connect small towns in rural America. He called byways “a critical component of the travel and tourism sector – integral to sustaining a diversified rural economy.”
Featured speaker John Porcari, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, recalled childhood memories of traveling the Seaway Trail, and stressed the historic and cultural significance of the stories told by America’s Byways. He spoke solemnly of Maryland’s Religious Freedom National Scenic Byway, where travelers follow the spiritual journey of English settlers along the shores of the Potomac River, to the place often recognized as the birthplace of religious toleration in North America.
Before announcing the first recognition award of the evening, Congressman David Cicilline spoke about the value of authenticity and sense of place. He then announced that Congressman Sam Farr was the evening’s recipient of the Scenic Hero award for his career-long commitment to scenic byways in California. During his acceptance remarks, Congressman Farr declared that “we sell scenery,” and spoke passionately about the importance of preserving scenic beauty.
A Scenic Byway Trailblazer Award was presented to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Executive Director Bud Wright accepted the award on behalf of AASHTO and the State DOTs for their leadership in championing the implementation of Scenic Byways since the Program’s 1991 inception. Executive Director Wright feels support is vital to the future of byways.
Senator Lamar Alexander (TN), a longtime advocate of scenic roads, was also recognized with a Scenic Byway Trailblazer Award. Senator Alexander said that when President Ronald Reagan asked him to chair the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors in 1985, the report “recommended more land trusts, greenways, city parks and scenic byways,” which led him “to work with the Tennessee legislature to create 10,000 miles of state roads and scenic highways with no new billboards, because we knew tourists came to Tennessee for the scenery, not the billboards. The Great American Outdoors is blessed with natural beauty, and I look forward to maintaining our opportunities to enjoy it.” Senator Alexander also remarked that “Great ideas carry themselves,” and that scenic byways are a great idea that should continue to be supported and enhanced.
The final speaker of the evening was Representative Paul Tonko (NY-2) who attended the event at the request of Eric Hamilton, National Scenic Byway Foundation Board Member and Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Executive Director. Representative Tonko closed the program with powerful remarks about how byways and heritage areas are critical to “place esteem.” He encouraged byway supporters to be “squeaky wheels” and seek additional support from Congress.
The event was very well attended by National Scenic Byway Foundation board members as well as byway leaders from as far away as Alaska. Many byway leaders, like Charlotte Bumgarner, Executive Director of the Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway in Colorado, used the time in D.C. to also schedule meetings with members of Congress. In those meetings, Charlotte spoke on behalf of all of the byways in Colorado, and reported that the information was well received.
Terry Maxwell (MD) was one of several state byway coordinators who attended the event. He expressed gratitude for the large turnout of Maryland representatives he described as “an enthusiastic group determined to get the word out about the benefits of byways within their jurisdictions.” Other state scenic byway coordinators in attendance included Lenore Bates (CO), Mike Hahn (DE) and Jackie Koons-Felion (PA).
The National Scenic Byway Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Scenic America and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership on this successful event. The Foundation’s participation was made possible through membership fees, donations and countless volunteer hours. Other sponsors of the event included AASHTO, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Bus Association, Visit Rochester and American Road Magazine.
Stacy Brown, National Scenic Byway Foundation Board Member and Boom or Bust Scenic Byway Director, greets William Sellers, President, The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.