Roanoke Buzz: Answering the Call

Published 1:11 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Each month when I sit down to write this column, I ask myself, “What is the most important message that Roanoke River Partners (RRP) need to share with readers in our region?”

It is always a challenge to narrow the possibilities down to one message and to express that message in 600 words or less.

Sometimes the message is about the ways we share our Roanoke River story—within our region as well as across North Carolina and beyond. Sometimes it is about an upcoming event. And sometimes the message is about our partners and our collaboration to develop our region.

Though RRP spends much of our collective effort to draw visitors and revenues to our communities, the goal in writing this column is to inform readers about how we are engaging a network of partners for the common good of our region. It’s about how, by working together, we are delivering a growing return to our communities.

I am often amazed at all that is being accomplished on a shoestring— maintaining a multi-county river trail that is nationally-recognized; offering a “bucket list” destination that attracts outdoor adventurers from across the country; regional, state and federal partnerships supportive of this development; and local buy-in to sustain and grow this rural development.

In case you didn’t know, there is no major annual appropriation for our Roanoke River Paddle Trail. Instead, each year RRP knits together a “bare bones” operating budget out of modest contributions from participating county governments and tourism agencies; memberships from participating towns, businesses and organizations, and interested individuals; and the revenues that our camping platforms yield.

It is the revenues generated by our camping platforms that bring me to my point—answering the call. Over the past two years, our region has experienced a lot of rain and high water levels. It is not surprising that this weather pattern has negatively impacted our trail. Lots of rainy weekends with persistent high water means less than favorable conditions, cancelled reservations and reduced revenues—leaving a gap in an already meager operating budget.

This is where readers like you can weigh in and make a difference. We could really use your help as we begin a new budget year. If you represent a small town or a business that is not yet a member, we’d love to have you.

If you have never been member, and want to help, we would welcome you as a new member and supporter. If you have been a member in the past but it’s been a while since you renewed—now would be a great time to show your support of this rural development.

Projections from our most recent economic development study show our efforts return upwards of $600,000 dollars back to our regional economy annually. Ideally, RRP operates from a $75,000 budget to deliver this return—not a bad return on investment to our Roanoke River communities.

Though RRP seeks to deliver a positive economic impact derived from our natural and cultural assets, we are also pleased to contribute to a sense of community pride. We often hear people remark that they love seeing the images, documentaries and articles about the Roanoke that we work with partners to produce.

This work is about pulling together to yield benefits to our rural region. Now would be a great time to answer the call—to be a Roanoke River Partner!

Carol Jones Shields is the Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners, Inc. You can contact her at (252) 798-3920 or You can learn more about Roanoke River Partners at