Reflecting on the Scenery of 2023
December 22, 2023
Image credit: Jensen Momohk

From securing landmark funding for America’s byways to launching a revitalized brand identity and website, 2023 was a historic year for Scenic America. As we turn the page and set our sights on the new year, let’s reflect on a year filled with victories, new relationships, and unwavering dedication to preserving the scenic treasures that define our nation. Join us as we take a stroll through the highlights that have shaped our mission and strengthened our commitment to safeguarding America’s beauty.

New Website and Visual Brand Identity Unveiled

Screenshots from the new Scenic America website

In April we launched our revamped website and visual brand identity. The modernized online presence not only streamlined communication with our audience but also reflected our organization’s commitment to staying at the forefront of scenic advocacy. We are excited for where this new visual identity will take us into the future.

America the Beautiful Photo Contest

2023 America the Beautiful Photo Contest Best in Show, Curves by Sue Mangan

In September, we proudly unveiled the winners of the 2023 America the Beautiful Photo Contest. This year was the third installment of our annual celebration of photographic talent showcasing the breathtaking diversity of our nation’s landscapes. We saw record participation and received submissions from photographers of every level from all over the country.

FHWA Grants Transform Byways Programs

April brought a substantial boost to scenic byways nationwide with the announcement of $21.8 million in grants from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This funding infusion is pivotal for the enhancement and preservation of scenic byways, ensuring they remain accessible and cherished by all. Scenic America played a pivotal role in securing this funding through the appropriations process.

Trees for Test Drives with BMW

Graphic from our spring Trees for Test Drives campaign with BMW

In a “groundbreaking” and innovative collaboration, Scenic America partnered with BMW to launch our Trees for Test Drives initiative. Participants across the country had the opportunity to test drive a BMW electric vehicle, with each drive contributing to reforesting efforts in fire-damaged forests. This partnership exemplifies the intersection of corporate responsibility and environmental conservation and will be a signature part of Scenic America’s programs into the future.

The Ozark Run Scenic Byway

Photo by Eric Hermanson

Earlier this year, “The Ozark Run” was officially designated as Missouri’s newest scenic byway. A collaborative effort from Scenic Missouri, Scenic America, and local partners, this achievement is a testament to how one unique vision can become a reality through cooperation, teamwork, and persistence.

Miami Residents Defend Scenic Landscapes

The Miami skyline will remain free of LED billboards

In a victory for community activism, Miami residents and advocates successfully defended their community’s scenic beauty against a proposed LED billboard onslaught. This accomplishment reinforces and demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of grassroots advocacy in preserving urban scenic environments and highlights the strength of our Scenic America partners and supporters.

Senate Appropriations Committee Allocates $20 Million to Byways

November brought exciting news as the Senate Appropriations Committee approved three funding bills that included $20 million for the National Scenic Byways Program in their FY24 THUD appropriations bill. This funding is instrumental in sustaining and enhancing our nation’s scenic routes, ensuring they remain vital conduits to America’s natural wonders.

Congressional Support for Byways

In a promising start to the year, Congress demonstrated its commitment to scenic preservation by including $20 million for the National Scenic Byways Program in the FY23 appropriations bill. This early support set a positive tone for the year ahead.

Legal Victory in Wisconsin

We celebrated a legal victory in Wisconsin as a court upheld Madison’s digital billboard ban. Citing the precedent set in Austin v. Reagan, this decision reinforced the importance of local regulations in preserving community aesthetics and showcased Scenic America’s legal strength.

Planned Giving Society Launched

In August, we introduced our Planned Giving Society, a platform to recognize and honor donors for making an enduring contribution to Scenic America through their will or estate. This initiative highlights the significance of ongoing support in sustaining our mission for years to come, and helps our supporters create their own legacies in scenic conservation.

As we reflect on these accomplishments, Scenic America extends heartfelt gratitude to our supporters, partners, and advocates who have played a vital role in making 2023 a year of triumphs in scenic preservation. With renewed enthusiasm, we look forward to continuing our journey in 2024, working together to protect the scenic wonders that make America truly extraordinary.