A week out from the start of the Grindstone Fire and with the possibility of rain coming, eyes are now looking toward the recovery of Pilot Mountain State Park and its future. Few outside of forestry and fire officials have been onto the grounds of the park to witness the damage, but corporate donations are already being pledged to help the park.
Contributions both big and small have been pouring in since last weekend from everyday citizens. The calls for donations of food and beverage quickly overtook the ability to store those items. The community then switched gears as needs changed to begin offering financial support.
Now, the community efforts to raise funds to support the park are being redoubled and are being met with significant corporate financial support as well.
Last week Allegacy Federal Credit Union announced a $10,000 donation to help with the recovery and rebuilding of Pilot Mountain State Park. This is in addition to food and beverage donations they made to the Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire Department.
“It is heartbreaking to see the images of Pilot Mountain on fire as many of our members and employees live, work and enjoy this beautiful area of our community,” said Cathy Pace, Allegacy President/CEO and Pilot Mountain native.
“In the past few days, we’ve seen the wonderful community spirit rally behind the brave firefighters and to help begin the rebuilding efforts. We are honored to offer support and also encourage employees, members and other businesses to join us.”
The Allegacy donation was made to Friends of the Sauratown Mountain. Comprised of more than 200 people from local communities, the Friends of Sauratown Mountain generate $10,000 annually “from our donations and fundraisers to purchase items not budgeted like education, conservation and trail maintenance,” said Debbie Vaden.
“These (Allegacy) funds will have a tremendous impact on the park as we move forward with the recovery and restoration of Pilot Mountain,” said Vaden, Friends of Sauratown Mountains President.
“We appreciate the generous donation and as a nonprofit, we rely on partnerships with businesses and community members like Allegacy to keep our parks and rivers safe and beautiful for our community and the many visitors who travel here.”
Friends of the Sauratown Mountains have also been collaborating with the community to create a Pilot Mountain specialty license plate. Given the frightening events of the past week, they are making a renewed push to get the Pilot Mountain plate across the finish line and use the funds to help aid in the park’s recovery from the Grindstone Fire.
The plan had always been for the Pilot Mountain plate to generate an additional stream of income for the Friends to be used for projects not covered by the State at Pilot Mountain State Park. To obtain the approval, the group has been trying to collect 300 applications for submission to the DMV, and their goal is within site.
Vaden said she would like to see the Pilot Mountain plate listed on the DMV website along with personalized plates for the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge plate generates more than a half million dollars in revenue each year according to Vaden.
“Those types of plates, for nature and outdoor groups, are seen, and then people want them,” she said. Someone scrolling for a shag dancing or Kevin Harvick themed plate online may see the Pilot plate and change their mind.
Just like that, a new recurring revenue stream for the Friends of Sauratown Mountain has begun. It can also be a gift that keeps on giving to the Friends and requires no further effort but to renew your license plate as you would anyway. “If you keep the plate, it’s an annual gift for us.”
Generating $6,000 in recurring funds from just the first 300 plates would be of great benefit to the organization. The potential revenue from the plates could be much greater if participation levels are high. Therefore, the initial run of plates is just the beginning of a much larger campaign that Vaden hopes will grow when people see Pilot Mountain adorning such a handsome license plate.
She knows the pain that has been felt in this community over the last week, the fear and the uncertainty. The orders for some folks with health conditions to stay inside, but the smell of smoke reaching into homes anyway. The fire took a toll on everyone in this area over the last week.
“Everyone has been devastated by it,” Vaden said of the Grindstone Fire. “Looking at pictures, even though it is an enormous heartbreak, it appears to be not as much damage as expected.”
“It appears to have burnt the floor, much like we would have seen during a controlled burn. This is actually going to create seedlings and promote vegetation in the spring.”
The Pilot Mountain license plate has yet to receive its approved status at the DMV, so anyone interested needs to go to the website, sauratownfriends.org and click on the link for the Pilot Mountain License Plate Application. At last check the plate was within one hundred applications of making its goal.
To aid in that, Truliant Federal Credit Union is stepping up to help get this effort across the threshold. Friday morning the Friends announced, “Truliant Federal Credit Union has generously donated $6,000 towards the Pilot Mountain State Park recovery. Thank you, Truliant Federal Credit Union, for helping us make our License Plate project a success.”
Truliant held an in-person sign up event Saturday where they were covering the processing fee to apply for the Pilot plate. Contact the Friends of the Sauratown Mountain for more info on the Truliant plate support.
These contributions from Allegacy and Truliant, coupled with the dedication of Friends of the Sauratown Mountain and all the good people of this community will help to ensure the recovery of Pilot Mountain and her long-term health for future generations to enjoy.