Trust fund authority authorizes $11.7 million for state park projects

The N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority Friday allocated $11.7 million from the fund for several capital improvement projects, maintenance across the state parks system and key land acquisitions.

Facility development funding approved by the board includes design and/or development funding for a new visitor center at Lake Norman State Park; tent and boat camping at Lake James State Park; youth cabin renovations and interim development at a recent land addition at Haw River State Park; bathhouse repairs and renovations at Fort Macon State Park; water system improvements at Pilot Mountain State Park and a tree canopy walk at William B. Umstead State Park.

The authority also approved funding for modest land acquisitions at Chimney Rock, Cliffs of the Neuse, Dismal Swamp, Hanging Rock, New River, Pettigrew, Pilot Mountain and Stone Mountain state parks, as well as Bear Paw State Natural Area and Deep River State Trail. Maintenance funds authorized by the board will be used for trail and exhibit rehabilitation, along with repairs and demolition of other facilities.

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is the principal funding source for state park capital projects and land acquisition. The authority approved the projects during a quarterly meeting at Gorges State Park.

Lewis Ledford, director of the Division of Parks and Recreation, provided the authority with a year-end review and briefed members on current issues and expectations for the coming year. Carl Silverstein, executive director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, presented a summary of the organization’s accomplishments and ongoing preservation efforts.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Gorges State Park Superintendent Steve Pagano presented an overview of the park, which was established in 1999 and opened a new visitor center and other facilities last week.

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