Paul Bunyan Meets the Feds
In early May, the story of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway was in front of the eyes of Federal Highway Department staff members. Our application for National Scenic Byway designation is being reviewed for specific content to determine if it makes the first cut. What is national designation? Unlike official state designation which is received from the state in which a byway route is located, the national designation is indeed a higher level of designation, but it‘s much more than that.
The federal government has created a collection of scenic byway routes across the nation to offer travelers a wide variety of byway experiences. The collection, called America’s Byways, includes byways with two types of designations; National Scenic Byway designation and All American Roads. Each included byway is unique and adds something significant to the America’s Byways collection.
Byways included in this premier collection are marketed through federal efforts, such as the ‘Come Closer. We Have Stories to Tell‘ program. Inclusion also opens the door to resources that help individual byways create uniquely memorable travel experiences, as well as develop byway programs that enhance the local quality of life through efforts to promote, preserve and interpret the intrinsic qualities of designated byways.
The application for national designation requires a written guide to the byway, including related documents such as maps, photographs and brochures. The guide, when completed, tells the story of the byway in a way that brings it to life for a wide variety of audiences. Additionally, a clear vision for the future of the byway must be delineated, including how potential partnerships will be encouraged. Ultimately, the application must answer the question, “Why should travelers choose to visit your byway?”
Did we do a good job of telling the story of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway? Did we lay out an easily-pictured, exciting vision for our byway’s future? Have we crafted a compelling answer as to why travelers should choose the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway amid more than a hundred other byway choices in the nation? Here’s the timeline we all have to live through before we find out whether we’ve earned the new title of Nationally Designated Scenic Byway.
Step 1: Late April, 05 - Online nomination is due to FHWA headquarters. They are expecting 40-60 nominations.
Step 2: First quarter of 2005 - A panel of 7 experts from outside the DOT will complete a first independent assessment of each nominated route.
Step 3: Early May, 05 - FHWA staff reviews nominations for the first cut.
Step 4: Mid May, 05 - FHWA sends remaining candidates to the panel of 7 reviewers.
Step 5: July, 05 - Review panel, FHWA staff and a facilitator meet in Washington DC. Reviewers develop independent assessments of each candidate.
Step 6: August, 05 - Using the state’s assessments, results of the independent assessments and FHWA internal evaluation, a recommendation package will be sent to the FHWA Administrator and the US Secretary of Transportation.
Step 7: Sept. 19-23, 05 - Announcement of selections is made.