Friends group grants turn into creative state park projects

In coming months, state parks will be dreaming up some creative ways to use grants being made available by the statewide Friends of State Parks (FSP). A combination of additional funding for the grant program and tighter budgets for the state parks system have made the FSP grants more valuable than ever.

An FSP grant helps stage a paddle festival at Hammocks Beach.

An FSP grant helps stage a popular paddle festival at Hammocks Beach State Park.

Modest, one-time grants from the FSP program improve the North Carolina state parks experience in some surprising ways. An FSP grant augmented by funds from the Eno River Association allowed Eno River State Park to add a lifelike display of a coyote, an animal increasingly common in that area. FSP funds will match those raised by Friends of Crowders Mountain State Park to support the annual festival at that “Park of the Year.” Hammocks Beach State Park’s paddle festival, partially funded by an FSP grant, will offer visitors the opportunity to get out on the water in what is becoming an international event supported by the American Canoe Association and involving the British Canoe Union.

A coyote mount was added at Eno River State Park with FSP grant help.

A coyote mount was added at Eno River State Park with FSP grant help.

Morrow Mountain State Park will rebuild a dry-stacked stone wall that once served proudly at the entrance. Native argillite, once quarried in the park, was used by the Civilian Conservation Corps to fashion the wall in 1940. The result will be more than just wall construction; it will be building an organization of volunteers as Friends of Morrow Mountain contribute both funding and physical effort in the restoration.

With three quarters of 2014 remaining, the Friends of State Parks Grants Disbursement Committee is inviting ideas from park staffs, and said it expects to have opportunity support more projects.

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