Archives for: October 2011
We learned from Joe Miller and the Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association that six miles of new singletrack in the Uwharrie National Forest's Wood Run Mountain Bike Trails are set to open with a celebration a week from next Saturday.
Phase I of the Wood Run Area Trails expansion, which began in 2009 included design and expansion work on Wood Run Road Trail, Supertree Trail and Keyauwee Trail, the SORBA says.
The work was finished October 15 and "includes a half-mile of road-to-trail conversion, rehabilitation of existing unsustainable trail, installation of approximately 20 rolling grade dips on the Supertree Trail, 2,300 square feet of rock armoring, construction of rock retaining walls, at least a dozen in-sloped switchbacks and turns, and over 25 rolling grade dips on the Keyauwee Trail" in addition to six additional miles of trail.
Events at noon November 12 at the Wood Run Area trailhead are to include a ribbon cutting, trail rides, games and food.
"The new trail and upgrades should be really sweet, and the rehabbing will make some of the existing trail much more sustainable," the SORBA post says. "Although these trails are designed and built to be attractive to mountain bikers, they are open to other recreational users, such as hikers and trail runners."
The State Forest Service will present the recently completed Land and Resource Management Plan for DuPont State Recreational Forest at a public hearing on November 3 in Hendersonville.
Forest Service staff will "explain the planning process and provide an overview of the plan as it relates to the management of natural communities, wildlife habitat and recreation," according to a news release. The plan doesn't appear to be available online at this point.
DuPont was transferred to the state Department of Agriculture and designated a "state recreational forest" (as opposed to "state forest") earlier this year, and forest supporters feared the transfer from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources could change the primary orientation of the forest from recreation to timber production.
"Topics of discussion at the meeting will include how that new designation will affect current and future projects involving recreation, invasive species control, prescribed burning and timber harvesting," the release says.
Thursday's meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Henderson County Public Library, 301 N. Washington Street, Hendersonville.
"Meeting participants are encouraged to ask questions and offer comments regarding the current and future management of the forest," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says in the release.
Update: The National Parks Conservation Association says "the Parkway can preserve its integrity as a self-contained, scenic motorway separate from the regional highway system, rather than allow piecemeal road developments to transform the historic parkway into a commuter traffic route," by adopting the proposed general management plan, and calls for folks to speak out at the public hearings.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is presenting options to the public for a new general management plan, the preferred alternative to which "emphasizes the original Parkway design and traditional driving experience, while enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities and regional natural resource connectivity, and providing modest improvements to visitor services."
Public hearings are set for November 2 at the Folk Art Center on the Parkway near Asheville, November 3 at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, November 9 at the Nelson Memorial Library in Lovingston, Va., and November 10 at the Brambleton Center in Roanoke, Va. Each meeting is from 3 to 7 p.m. and will feature exhibits that explain the plan.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, available here, provides comprehensive guidance for perpetuating natural systems, preserving cultural resources, and providing opportunities for quality visitor experiences along the Parkway for the next 20-plus years, the news release says.
In the approach preferred by the National Park Service, Alternative B, "the parkway would be actively managed as a traditional, self-contained, scenic recreational driving experience and designed landscape," the plan's introduction says. "To support that experience, many of the parkway’s recreation areas would provide enhanced opportunities for dispersed outdoor recreation activities."
Under Alternative C, the Parkway would be managed in a manner "more integrated with the larger region’s resources and economy," the plan says. "More emphasis would be placed on reaching out to communities and linking to regional natural, recreational, and cultural heritage resources and experiences. The parkway would continue to be managed to retain the fundamental character of the traditional designed landscape and scenic driving experience. However, a variety of more modern recreational and visitor service amenities would be provided, primarily concentrated in visitor services areas. As a result, portions of some recreation areas would be redesigned."
Alternative A describes the Parkway as is, and is a "non-action alternative" for comparison purposes. As it is currently being managed, "there is not a comprehensive Parkway-wide resource and visitor use management direction for setting priorities. Resource and visitor use issues and conflicts [are] resolved on a case-by-case basis without the guidance of an agreed upon Parkway-wide management strategy."
Under the preferred alternative, about 9.4 percent of Parkway land would become part of "recreation zones" and accommodate "a wider range of trail-based recreational activities such as allowing mountain biking and horseback riding in some locations, or more hiking trails or trail improvements to accommodate more hikers. Recreational opportunities would focus on the outdoors and include organized group programs, self-guiding interpretation, nature observation, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, viewing natural and cultural resources, photography, exploring, and backcountry camping."
The proposal also suggests additional campsites, picnic areas, restrooms, and interpretive media, and "expanding visitor services from a six-month to a nine-month visitor season."
Increased recreational opportunities and development outside the Parkway in the Roanoke, Highlands and Asheville areas will increase visitation and congestion, the report says, but mitigation efforts described in the report would make them minor and localized in the long-term.
Comments on the plan can be submitted at any of the meetings listed above, or until December 16 online or by mail to: Superintendent Philip A. Francis, Jr., Blue Ridge Parkway, 199 Hemphill Knob Road, Asheville, NC 28803.
The Forest Service said shortly after Hurricane Irene struck August 27 that 60 percent of roads in the 160,000-acre forest were blocked by fallen trees. Since then, only Cedar Point Recreation Area, the Oyster Point campground and the Dixon's Landing canoe launch and campground reopened on September 8.
All remaining reservations for the season at the Cape Lookout National Seashore's Long Point cabins will be cancelled as the national park continues to deal with damage from Hurricane Irene, which struck in August.
The National Park Service also said in a news release Thursday that the Long Point ferry basin would be dredged, and that vehicle access to North Core Banks could be available by mid-November.
When it hit August 26-26, Hurricane Irene significantly overwashed the entire seashore, the news release says, "and overwash caused the greatest physical damage at the Long Point camp, eroding about 50 feet of beach, causing damage to cabins [and] cabin infrastructure, and filling in the ferry landing with about 100 feet of sand."
In addition to other work, the "back road" to the Long Point area has been graded, and marking the dune lines and remaining vehicle routes is underway.
The August issue of the state parks' newsletter, which we're late to because of its haphazard publishing schedule, outlines the master plan to develop Chimney Rock State Park and notes the opening of a new visitors center at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.
The Chimney Rock development plan, which is to be implemented over the next 20 years, calls for establishing three day use areas – "at World’s Edge, a high-value natural area with an escarpment that overlooks the Piedmont plain; the Bottomless Pools, a dormant streamside tourist attraction; and Rumbling Bald, a rugged area on [Hickory Nut] Gorge’s north side popular with rock climbers" – and primitive camping sites "most notably along the perimeter of Chimney Rock Mountain."
The current narrow entrance road to the Chimney Rock tourist attraction, the focal point of the 4,500-acre state park, would become a one-way exit and a new entrance road would be built to a 6,500-square-foot visitor center and central visitor-receiving area in what’s known as the Meadows, at the base of Chimney Rock Mountain. Visitors would access the elevator to the park's famous spire, as well as stairs to higher points, from there. A picnic area and various trailheads would be located at the Meadows, too.
"The master plan envisions an innovative partnership among the local governments to create a bus shuttle system [described elsewhere in the article as "an electric or natural gas-powered transit circulator"] that can get tourists to the state park as well as local retail attractions and motels," the article says.
The Skyline Lounge will become an interpretive center, the report says.
The Old Rock Café at the park’s entrance, as well as the elevator, are being renovated, according to the park's page on the state parks' website.
At Cliffs of Neuse, a new 7,000-square-foot, $2.4 million visitor center built to national green building standards was formally dedicated June 3. It includes an exhibit hall, teaching auditorium and classroom, and administrative offices for the park and the state parks system’s east district.
Show your support for North Carolina’s environment by camping out this weekend, October 7 to 9, with Campout! Carolina.
Campout! Carolina is an annual program from EarthShare North Carolina, a group of 66 non-profit organizations that work together to educate the general public about the value of protecting North Carolina’s natural resources.
Last year, more than 8,400 people from across the state joined Campout! Carolina, according to its website. This year's is the fifth annual statewide campout.
Any night outdoors this weekend can declare itself part of Campout! Carolina, and the program has affiliated events, including the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance, a family-friendly festival with four stages of music, plus dance, art, education, games and other fun from Thursday through Sunday. Here's a closer look at Shakori Hills, which is on a farm in Silk Hope in Chatham County.
If you register on the Campout! Carolina website, you could win a four-day pass to Shakori Hills, or a tent from REI.
REI stores will have gear rentals available for free on a first-come, first-served basis for the weekend of Campout! Carolina.
Need an idea of where to camp? There are literally hundreds of camping opportunities on public lands across North Carolina - campgrounds that you are already paying for in our national parks, national forests, state parks, and elsewhere, including at military bases and posts in the state.
A private firm will operate the site, which is to be located at the new Beaufort Town Hall (the former Post Office building) and Grayden Paul Park, according to a news release. Service is expected to begin in 2014 after contracts are let in 2013.
Currently, Cape Lookout is only accessible by private boats or private ferries.
The National Park Service decided in 2008 to develop a ferry service, and various options were presented for public comment last March.