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State Parks System Lists 2005 Accomplishments:

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Michael F. Easley, Governor
William G. Ross, Jr., Secretary

Release Note: 
Charlie Peek
Release Date: 
Monday, December 19, 2005

State Parks System Lists 2005 Accomplishments:

1. The division further implemented its New Parks for a New Century initiative with the General Assembly's authorization of new state parks at Carver's Creek in Cumberland County and at Hickory Nut Gorge in Rutherford County. The division is developing land acquisition strategies for both these parks with the help of land conservancies and the state's three conservation trust funds.

Using grants from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the division incorporated the former Brown's Summit Center in Rockingham County into Haw River State Park and is creating the state parks system's second regional environmental education center. Land acquisition efforts continue at the new Mayo River State Park, also in Rockingham County, with its size doubled in the past year to 1,588 acres.

2. Significant land acquisitions at existing state park units in 2005 included more than 2,500 acres purchased and donated to create a new Scuppernong River Section at Pettigrew State Park in Washington and Tyrell counties. This is an important conservation effort along one of the state's last undeveloped river corridors, allowing for protection of rare species and habitat. The division also acquired 785 acres at Elk Knob State Natural Area in Watauga and Ashe counties. And, 113 acres (former Eure property) were added at William B. Umstead State Park that will provide an important buffer to development at the park's northern boundary along US 70. This acquisition represented partnership among the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Wake County through its open space bond effort.

3. A new 6,273-square-foot visitor center and extensive renovations to related visitor facilities at Jones Lake State Park in Bladen County were completed representing an investment of $2.42 million. Also, new visitor centers are under development at New River, South Mountains and Merchants Millpond state parks. A new access area providing day-use recreation and overnight camping was provided along the Lumber River in Scotland County. And, overnight camping facilities at Stone Mountain State Park in Wilkes County were significantly expanded.

4. The division launched a master planning process for 2,914 acres purchased in 2004 from Crescent Resources Inc. and added to Lake James State Park. The acquisition, representing about 30 miles of shoreline, protects critical watershed and viewshed areas in Burke County and provides room for much-needed recreation facilities. A series of public meetings resulted in three alternate proposals, which are being reviewed in detail.

5. A record $13.7 million was channeled into local park acquisition and improvement projects through 50 grants from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, administered by the division. In the 11-year history of the fund, more than $74 million has been awarded through 422 matching grants to municipal and county recreation programs in all areas of the state.

6. North Carolina's state parks system was one of four finalists for the 2005 Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. The Gold Medal Awards are considered the most prestigious in the field of parks and recreation management. The division was judged on 11 criteria including the quality of long-range planning, the response to population and economic trends, the extent of citizen support, the quality of natural resource protection and the types of services to special population groups.