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National Scenic Byway Foundation announces the

Inaugural 2020 Byway Organization Awards

Innovation Award Winner – Indiana’s Historic Pathways
Honorable Mention:
Mohawk Towpath National Scenic Byway (NY)

Public-Private Partnership Award
 Winner – Trail of the Ancients (CO)
Honorable Mention:
Appalachian Byway of Ohio
Covered Bridge Scenic Byway (IA)

Interpretation Award
 Winner – Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway (IA)
Honorable Mention:
A1A National Scenic Byway (FL)
Kansas Byway Collection

Leveraging Resources Award
 Winner – Merritt Parkway (CT)
Honorable Mention:
Byway 136 (NE)
Lakes to Locks Passage (NY)

Marketing & Communications Award
Winner – Florida Keys Scenic Highway
Honorable Mention:
Boom or Bust Scenic Byway (LA)
Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway (NE)
Scenic Highway of Legends (CO)

Visitor Experience Award
Winner – Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway (ND)
Honorable Mention:
Lake Erie Coastal National Scenic Byway (OH)
Land & Sky Scenic Byway (KS)

Scenic Viewshed Improvement Award
Winner – Native Stone Scenic Byway (KS)

Expanding Knowledge Award
Winner – Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway (ME)
Honorable Mention:
Cascade Loop Scenic Byway

The National Scenic Byway Foundation celebrates these Byway Organization Award winners! 
Read more about our annual member byway awards!

Byway Innovation Award: Indiana’s Historic Pathways
Outside of Christmas and birthdays, who knew boxes could be so much fun? Beginning in 2016, and with assistance from an Indiana Humanities Grant, volunteers along the Buffalo Trace Trail created and boxed up compelling themed activities to spark schoolkids’ enthusiasm for their unique local history. Box contents related to the historic pathway formerly used by migrating bison, followed by Native Americans and pioneers across the Hoosier State’s southern tier.

Boxes contained not only classroom lesson plans but also engaging multidisciplinary items ranging from the State Seal to sections of authentic buffalo hide. Follow up workshops related to the boxes’ implementation ensured teachers were on the same page. After multiple years of the project, hundreds of fourth grade students across an eight-county area came to appreciate the importance of this historic route while having some furry fun in the process!

Public-Private Partnership Award: Trail of the Ancients (CO)
Partnerships are the lifelines that keep scenic byways alive and flowing. In the case of the McElmo Creek Flume along the Trail of the Ancients (TOTA) Scenic Byway, the flow was literal as well as figurative. In 2011, this flume was the only surviving of the original 104 flumes on the Montezuma Valley Irrigation system that was constructed in the 1890s. Delivering water to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s reservoir north of Towaoc, it sustained damage in the mid-2000s. As the preservation of the flume began in 2011-12, TOTA was awarded a National Scenic Byways Program grant – in its last year of funding – to construct a parking area and overlook.

To keep efforts moving along, a considerable range of diverse partners contributed to the restoration of the flume and construction/management of the overlook. Montezuma County, the Southwest Basin Roundtable, Southwest Water Conservation District, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, CO State Historic Fund, Ballantine Family Fund, and a private historic preservation consultant were all among the organizations – both public and private – that recognized the significance of this byway and worked tirelessly to preserve and protect it.

Interpretation Award: Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway (IA)
While scenic byways’ attributes may entice travelers with or without signage, interpretive panels enhance the visitor experience considerably, especially when installed in a unified manner across the miles. The Lincoln Highway of Times Square-to-San Francisco fame runs 460 miles across the heart of Iowa.

This project had its beginnings in 2016 when the Iowa Resource Conservation & Development Association (RC&D) wrote a grant for each Iowa Byway to create two interpretive panels related to conservation practices. These two (2’ x 3’) panels on a steel base served as the “seed” and helped sell the idea of interpretive panels to other organizations and communities. The sample template was later included in the byway’s interpretive plan. These 6 panels educate the public about the Lincoln Highway, the first improved transcontinental road in America. The route in Iowa travels from Clinton at the Mississippi River, to Council Bluffs along the Missouri River. Each panel covers a different topic of historical value to the visitor and adds to their experience while on this historic road.

Leveraging Resources Award: Merritt Parkway (CT)
Scenic byways often generate conflicts between the competing missions of safety, efficiency and aesthetic stewardship among agencies responsible for their maintenance and upkeep. This project required taking the Lake Avenue Bridge in Greenwich out of service to completely replace the structural steel. It was accomplished under great time pressure to minimize disrupting the parkway’s heavy volume of weekday traffic moving below it – estimated around 70,000 vehicles per day – and school bus routes requiring an 8.5-mile detour while the bridge was out. In addition, the restoration of the ornamental ironwork presented uncertainties about its condition that could not be determined until it was removed.


The project was completed ahead of schedule, on budget, and to positive community reception through the strong collaboration of CT DOT who designed and administered the project, the contractor Mohawk Northeast, who brought the right skills to the work, and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy who explained the project to the public and closely advised on the restoration process. The successful outcome is exemplary, especially within the context of the Merritt’s recognition as an endangered historic place in 2010. 

Marketing & Communications Award: Florida Keys Scenic Highway
This stretch of All-American Road is surrounded on both sides by incredible natural beauty, including tropical scenery and seemingly endless turquoise waters. The project is an innovative mobile app with features that include: narrated driving tours that give travelers advance notice of scenic, iconic, or historic points of interest, playing narration to hear details about points of interest and amenities and fun facts about the route. Based on a traveler’s location, nearby restaurants, attractions, and points of interest are visible in real-time. It allows users to customize their own trip itinerary with the ability to add trip dates and “favorite” anything they find of interest in searching through this ‘app’ tailored to the traveler. It also includes stunning 360-degree video views of major points of interest, and views underwater, biking, kayaking, and in the backcountry.

The app bridges the gap between the user and local business community, allowing users to search and directly book accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and more. Finally, the app links travelers to local webcams, weather conditions, introductions to each island community, events, maps, and social media. The travel app is truly all-inclusive and maximizes visitor enjoyment while prioritizing the safety of all along the byway.
Visitor Experience Award: Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway 
Sheyenne RiverFest, a new byway event, took place on August 1, 2019. Byway Committee members working with the Valley City Convention & Visitors Bureau (major financial sponsor) brainstormed the concept of an event to bring people to the area. The goal of RiverFest was to get people excited and learn about using the scenic Sheyenne River and spending quality time in the area. The Byway Committee invited partners to collaborate on the Festival. A series of meetings were held and it was decided that it would be best to do RiverFest in two byway locations to get the greatest participation. A world record non-motorized boat launch was proposed on the Sheyenne River at two byway sites. Byway committee members put together a raffle to help finance and sustain the event. Prizes were donated by businesses, public organizations and individuals.

After great success, there are plans to extend the event, and new sponsors are being engaged for 2020. A spinoff of RiverFest is the development of a Water Trail team. Many of the RiverFest workers are engaged with the National Park Service, working to create a water trail to parallel the byway. Long term, the partners hope to be recognized as a National Water Trail. Maps, signage and new launch sites along the river are being developed. The byway visitors’ experience will be enhanced by new recreational opportunities on the river.
Scenic Viewshed Improvement Award: Native Stone Scenic Byway (KS)
In 2007 a stone fence restoration workshop was suggested to teach those who are interested in how our ancestors built the existing historic stone fences 150 years ago and after discussion, the idea was approved. The workshop criteria are simple, one must own property along the Native Stone Scenic Byway, have an existing stone fence and surplus stone; or if the property owner wishes to have a “new build”, they must provide the stone and an appropriate site for the fence to be built. The property owner must also agree to donate $1000 for the entire project, which would cover the pay for the instructor, food, drink, and a port-a-potty, if needed. 

Our workshop is a 3-day weekend, we have a $100 fee, for newcomers, which covers the fence instruction and food and drinks for the weekend.  We do not charge our Alums if they choose to return and volunteer their time and services, but we do provide food and drinks for them.  The bi-annual workshop project began in 2007 and is ongoing; 25 stone fences have been completed. The restored stone fences showcase the historic value in the preservation, education and use of the plentiful “natural” Native Stone in the area.  The workshops convey this message locally, as well as to travelers and tourists. The restored fences are all located along the corridor of the Native Stone Scenic Byway and are easily seen by visitors to the area.
Expanding Knowledge Award: Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway (ME)
The project consists of Byway participation in defense of Maine’s scenic beauty. A very real threat has been presented in the form of a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line coming from Canada to supply a request made by Massachusetts. The purchased real estate is 300 feet wide and 53 miles long and will accommodate two lines of 100 foot- tall monopole structures. The line will cross the Byway twice and bisect the largest temperate forest in the country. Fifty- three miles of this corridor is new and will be cut through the most scenic byway accessed area.

Byway directors in their entirety joined forces with concerned citizens from all over the state to garner 75,000 signatures to force a referendum next fall. The ballot question would be basically: Do you vote to require the Maine Public Utilities Commission to rescind the Certificate of Necessity and Convenience it granted to Central Maine Power Company? This certificate was granted in the spring of 2019 and is essential for the project to go forward. The project is a good fit for Byways because it raises the importance of Byways in the public conscience, and has acted as a focal point for others opposed to the project.