Parks and recreation authority approves park expansions, improvement projects

Land acquisition projects at eight existing and proposed state parks and natural areas and four capital projects were funded in whole or in part by the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority on Friday, May 12 at a meeting at Carolina Beach State Park. The projects will be supported with a $5.2 million share of the trust fund designated for state parks. The allocation of this funding is contingent upon budget approval by the North Carolina General Assembly.

Land acquisition projects totaling $4 million include adding 151 acres to Eno River State Park, 212 acres to Grandfather Mountain State Park, 50 acres to Morrow Mountain State Park, 114 acres to Lake James State Park, and 236 acres to Hanging Rock State Park. Other projects include acquiring 1,790 acres to establish the proposed Black River State Park and an initial acquisition of 1,000 acres for the proposed Salmon Creek State Natural Area, which is located on a Bertie County site where artifacts that may be linked to the “Lost Colony” and 18 other identified archaeological sites were found.

The authority also approved $1.2 million in funding for much-needed capital improvement projects including sand relocation in Jockeys Ridge State Park, dock replacement at Hammocks Beach State Park, design for restaurant renovations at Mount Mitchell State Park, and HVAC replacement at Fort Macon State Park.

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is the principal source of funding for land acquisition and capital projects in the state parks, with 65 percent of trust fund revenue directed to those types of projects. The remainder is set aside for local government grants for parks and recreation projects and for coastal beach access.

At the May 12 meeting, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Susi Hamilton got to know to authority members and spoke of her deep appreciation for the work of DNCR’s divisions, which manage and support state parks, historic sites, art, science, and history museums, the N.C. Zoo, the N.C. Symphony, and much more. Division of Parks and Recreation Director Mike Murphy updated authority members on park visitation, the successful NC Science Festival, stream restoration projects and prescribed fire success in the parks. He also shared the progress of the exciting new 100 Mile Challenge and Passport programs and provided legislative updates.

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