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Trust Fund Grants Directed to 3,500 Acres for State Parks

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

Release Note: 
Charlie Peek
Release Date: 
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Trust Fund Grants Directed to 3,500 Acres for State Parks

RALEIGH -- More than 3,500 acres could be brought under conservation by the state parks system as a result of grants this fall from the Natural Heritage and Clean Water Management trust funds, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The parks system received $5.6 million in grants from the Natural Heritage Trust Fund in November and $5.46 million from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund in September and November. Coupled with $9.89 million in allocations from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the grants will support land acquisitions at 10 state park units including Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County and the newly authorized Deep River State Trail centered in Chatham County.

'Each year, trustees for these conservation trust funds have become more adept at combining their efforts for effective conservation of our natural resources and support of the state's One North Carolina Naturally initiative,' said Lewis Ledford, director of the division. 'The critical properties to be acquired by these grants will help develop new parks and greatly enhance established parks.'

Each of the three trust funds was established with its own mission. The Natural Heritage Trust Fund is dedicated to the preservation of important species and habitats while the Clean Water Management Trust Fund is concerned with protecting water quality and conservation of riparian areas. A portion of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is set aside for state parks land acquisition.

The combined efforts for state parks in 2007 are directed at 24 tracts, the largest being a 1,082-acre property on the Scuppernong River at a newly designated section of Pettigrew State Park in Washington and Tyrell counties.

It is likely eight properties, totaling 513 acres, will be added to Chimney Rock State Park, authorized in 2005 and firmly established earlier this year with the state's acquisition of Chimney Rock Park, formerly a privately owned nature attraction. The properties lie on both the north and south sides of Hickory Nut Gorge and include several nationally and regionally significant natural heritage sites as well as the headwaters of Falls Creek, which creates Hickory Nut Falls within the park.

About 300 acres could be acquired to expand the Deep River State Trail authorized this year by the N.C. General Assembly. The trail will eventually be a network of conservation lands and recreation amenities stretching along the river corridor through five counties.

Other planned land acquisitions will benefit Elk Knob, South Mountains, Lake Norman, Eno River, Stone Mountain, Lake Waccamaw and Merchants Millpond state parks.

Negotiations are still under way for some of the proposed land acquisitions. The majority, however, have either been placed under contract by the State Property Office or are in the control of nonprofit land conservancies and land trusts.