Parkway campgrounds will close October 28 this year.
The refuge comprises 154,000 acres on the Alligator River and Intracoastal Waterway, Albemarle Sound, and Croatan and Pamlico sounds in Dare and Hyde counties. It is about 190 miles east of Raleigh.
A news release says "as you discover why this place is important for wildlife and YOU, be on the lookout for black bear, bald eagles and other animals. Watch for the budding of wildflowers and many plants along the way."
Reservations for the tour are not required. Contact Cindy Heffley at 252-475-4180 with questions, the release says.
The North Carolina state parks' automated reservation system is undergoing an upgrade and will be down until March 21, a news release says.
During the two weeks of downtime, walk-in reservations at individual state parks will be accepted for access to campsites, picnic shelters and other amenities. If you made reservation for a time between March 7 and 21 before the system was taken offline, it will be honored.
Like always, reservations are not required if campsites are available when campers show up.
The work being done is described as "a major upgrade of the Internet- and call center-based service" introduced in 2009.
The reservation system provides guaranteed access to 3,000 campsites and other visitor facilities in 39 state parks and state recreation areas. A $3 surcharge for each reservation or night’s stay pays for the automated system.
The National Park Service has installed posts on the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore to designate ORV routes and vehicle-free areas as the park gets ready to enforce new off-road-vehicle regulations.
New signs with information about the ORV regulations adopted February 15 have also been installed at ORV ramps, a news release says. The rules, which require drivers to display an ORV special use permit when driving on designated routes, are to be enforced beginning March 15.
A 2008 consent decree requires the National Park Service to limit driving on the beach at Hatteras to times that do not conflict with nesting and spawning seasons for endangered species. The agreement, which settles a lawsuit brought by various environmental groups, also closes pedestrian access to specific areas of the seashore for bird breeding season from mid-March to mid- to late-August and for turtle nesting until early November.
Weekly closure notices are available each Thursday in season at www.nps.gov/caha/parknews/newsreleases.htm.
ORV permits cost $120 for the calendar year or $50 for a permit good for seven days after it is issued. They are available at Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (Buxton), and the Ocracoke Visitor Center.
Violation of the new ORV rules may bring a $150 fine.
A new web page has FAQs, route maps and other information.
Firefighters held the fire, which was first reported around 7 p.m. on February 11, to 73 acres.
Our friend Smokey Bear provides these tips for safely extinguishing a campfire:
* Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
* Pour lots of water on the fire; drown ALL embers, not just the red ones.
* Pour until hissing sound stops.
* Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
* Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers.
* Stir and make sure everything is wet and they are cold to the touch.
* If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool. Do NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.
A study by a General Assembly committee suggests that the state could save more than $2 million annually by closing state parks during the winter and closing other state-supported attractions all together.
The study by the Program Evaluation Division (.pdf) for the North Carolina General Assembly was received by a legislative oversight committee and sent to a subcommittee for further examination, WRAL reported Tuesday.
The legislature ordered the study last year to determine whether the state could save money by consolidating administration "and to suggest optimal operating schedules for sites," a cover letter with the study says.
The review included sites administered by the Department of Cultural Resources (23 state historic sites, nine museums, and three commissions) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (39 state parks and recreation areas, three aquariums, Jennette's Pier, the North Carolina Zoological Park, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the North Carolina Museum of Forestry).
The study calls for DENR to record daily visitation at all of its parks and recreation areas, and to use this data to determine the impact of closing December through February. “The Program Evaluation Division estimated the state could save $2.4 million by closing all state parks and recreation areas for three months during the winter season, but the division determined it was premature to recommend that level of closure without daily visitation data,” it says.
The study’s other recommendations include:
• Adopting a five-day schedule for seven historic sites and closing two: the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City and the CSS Neuse/Richard Caswell Memorial in Kinston. On a cost-per-visitor basis, they are among the system’s most expensive to operate.
• Privatizing the N.C. Zoo and aquariums, and developing or expanding private-public partnerships or private sponsorships for other sites.
• Consolidating management of sites in close proximity to each other, such as Singletary Lake State Park and the undeveloped Bay Tree Lake State Park in Bladen County, and at Bennett Place, Duke Homestead, and Historic Stagville in Durham County.
• Increasing admission fees or eliminating fee discounts (such as for senior citizens) at the zoo and aquariums.
In letters attached to the report, officials from DENR and Cultural Resources dispute some of the study's findings, downplay projected savings and reject the study’s recommendations.
Lewis Ledford, director of the state Division of Parks and Recreation, told WRAL that most state parks aren't designed to keep people out, and trying to close them for the winter could pose safety and security risks for people and the facilities.
Officials with both agencies point out that in some rural areas, the state sites are the only recreational attractions available to residents.
Because of utility work near Brevard, parts of several trails in the Pisgah National Forest may be closed at times between now and the end of March, the U.S. Forest Service said Monday.
Trails affected are in the Pisgah Ranger District, and include:
- Black Mountain Trail, which starts behind the Pisgah District Ranger Station/Visitor Center on U.S. 276.
- Art Loeb Trail between Davidson River Campground and the junction with the Estatoe Trail.
- Buckhorn Gap Trail.
- Avery Creek Trail (and Avery Creek Road).
Progress Energy will be taking down trees along U.S. 276 during the work week as part routine maintenance of the utility right of way, the Forest Service says. Trees won't be felled on Saturdays or Sundays.
The controlled fire is to cover a 155-acre area near the public entrance to the RV campsites and shoreline at the Vista Point Access.
"Some plant communities and animal species rely on periodic fire for their existence," a state parks news release says. "The prescribed burn will also reduce the amount of potential wildfire fuel. The prescribed burn will help protect the park’s resources and neighboring landowners if lightning, arson or carelessness spark a wildfire."
The fire will be set when weather conditions make it safe. Monitor the state parks website page for Jordan Lake (through the link above) or our Twitter feed, @NCOutdoorsGuide, for notice of the burn.
Vista Point, one of five campgrounds at Jordan Lake, has 50 group camping sites for RVs and five group camping sites for tents. Vista Point is off of U.S. 64 and North Pea Ridge Road north of Pittsboro.
A news release today says the Seashore will add a day - Wednesday - and an extra time to climb at the end of the day for the 2012 season.
The lighthouse will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, May 16 to September 22, this year.
Climbs begin every 15 minutes and require reservations. Tickets cost $8, or $4 for ages 12 and younger (must be at least 44 inches tall) and 62 and older, and for those holding a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass.
A U.S. Forest Service program will provide $605,000 to reduce wildfire costs and severity, and to fight hemlock wooly adelgid in two popular recreation areas of the Pisgah National Forest, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release today.
The grant is among $40 million to be allocated for 20 forest and watershed restoration projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program.
The 10-year project is meant to restore natural fire-adapted vegetation in the forest, lower wildfire severity and fire suppression costs, and help threatened and endangered species in and around Linville Gorge and the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River corridor.
The proposal for the grant calls for prescribed burns, thinning mature trees and planting shortleaf pine in 36,795 acres of pine and oak forests. Other work includes "removing white pine, red maple, yellow poplar and other mesophytic species from oak-hickory and yellow pine Ecological Zones" to "improve species composition and structure on 1,850 acres of upland forests." Another 2,740 acres will be treated for non-native invasive plants.
The Grandfather Restoration Project (it's named for the ranger district) will also include treatment of 540 acres of eastern and Carolina hemlock for hemlock woolly adelgid within the first two years of the project and then indefinitely thereafter.
Additional plans call for bank stabilization, species reintroduction, and removal of artificial fish barriers and non-native invasive plants on a total of 16 miles of streams in the project area.
The proposal says the work involved, including harvesting and selling wood products, will create 12.6 full-time-equivalent jobs.