Category: State Forests
Fans of "The Hunger Games" have turned out to help create a banner attendance year at DuPont State Recreational Forest, where much of the hit movie was filmed, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Forest Supervisor David Brown told the newspaper that visitation through the end of October had hit 327,000, topping last year's full count of 250,000 for an all-time high.
Brown said increased interest in the forest can also be attributed to it being named one of the top five state forest/parks in the nation by Outside Magazine, an 18-page photo essay on the forest in Our State Magazine last March (when "The Hunger Games" was released), and a Bike Magazine feature about the forest as a mountain biking destination.
Tammy Hopkins, co-owner of the Hunger Games Fan Tours in Brevard, said her firm has escorted 700 fans from 41 states through the forest.
Scenes at DuPont were shot at Triple Falls, below, and Bridal Veil Falls in the forest's High Falls Access area, and elsewhere among DuPont's more than 10,000 acres.
Brown also told the newspaper that an ongoing survey of people as they leave DuPont has found that 40 percent of visitors came to the forest to hike; 25 percent came to see the waterfalls; 19 percent to mountain bike; and 7 percent to swim (during the summer). Most visitors (81 percent) rated their trail experience as excellent, with 15 percent rating it as very good.
Dealing with the increased attendance and popularity of the forest has been a challenge as the state has cut funds and staff, Brown said.
The 12-mile shuttle bus tour visits the forest's four most scenic sites: Triple Falls (below), High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Julia. Visitors can get off and on buses at each stop. The tour takes three hours or longer, depending on how much time is spent at each stop.
"Tour de Falls is intended to provide families and those with limited hiking abilities a chance to see the beauty of DuPont Forest and some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Southeast via shuttle buses," a news release says.
Buses will be available at the High Falls Access Area, 1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain (N35E11.356', W082E 37.425'), approximately every 40 minutes from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The 10,400-acre forest straddles the Transylvania/Henderson county line.
Volunteers on the buses and at each stop will provide information about the area's history and efforts to protect the forest's historical and natural resources.
Light refreshments will be available in the lodge overlooking Lake Julia, the last stop on the tour. Otherwise, visitors should bring water and snacks; there are no food concessions. Triple Falls and High Falls have covered shelters with picnic tables.
A donation of $6 for ages 6 to 17 and $12 for ages 18 and older is requested.
Friends of DuPont Forest, a non-profit organization that works with the state Forest Service and Department of Agriculture to "enrich the recreational experience and preserve the natural resources" in the forest, sponsors the tour each spring.
The Friends initiated a fall version of the tour last September.
Click on the photo of Triple Falls for more information about DuPont State Recreational Forest.
"The Hunger Games," set to open Friday and expected be a huge hit worldwide, was filmed entirely in North Carolina, including in DuPont State Recreational Forest and on the Blue Ridge Parkway, The News & Observer explains in a front-page report today.
Scenes for the post-apocalyptic young adult drama were filmed at Triple Falls, below, and Bridal Veil Falls in the forest's High Falls Access area, and elsewhere among DuPont's more than 10,000 acres.
DuPont, which is on the Transylvania/Henderson county border between Hendersonville and Brevard, has more than 80 miles of roads and trails open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Forest officials expect visitation to grow significantly beyond the usual 188,000 visitors each year when "Hunger Games" tourists begin to join them, The N&O says.
A lake in the film is the North Fork Reservoir, which is not open to visitors but can be seen from a trail at Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville.
Fans should note that, while hiking trails remain available if the Parkway is not closed for inclement weather, the Craggy Gardens visitor center and other Parkway facilities are closed for the winter until next month. The Craggy Gardens visitor center opens on weekends in April and then on weekdays for the season beginning April 23. It will close for next winter on November 4.
DuPont State Forest is open year-round.
'The Hunger Games' uses Triple Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest, below, as a backdrop for fight scenes, and additional parts of the forest as the wilderness that pivitol characters spend much of the film in. Click on the photo for more about DuPont State Forest.
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.
The Friends of DuPont State Forest have announced dates for a fall version of Tour de Falls, a 12-mile shuttle bus tour to four spectacular sites in DuPont State Recreational Forest.
Buses departing from the High Falls Access Area every 30 minutes will take visitors to Triple Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Julia from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on September 24 and 25, a Saturday and Sunday.
The Tour de Falls has also been held in May.
The High Falls Access Area is at 1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, N.C. (N35E11.356', W082E 37.425').
The tour takes three hours or longer, depending on how much time you spend at each stop, according to the Friends. There are no food concessions at the forest, so visitors need to bring food and water. Light refreshments will be available at the lodge overlooking Lake Julia, which is the last stop on the tour.
The tour is free but a donation of $6 for ages 6 to 17 and $12 for ages 18 and older is requested. There are no advance reservations.
Donations to the nonprofit Friends of DuPont Forest "are used to finance construction projects such as shelters and steps at the waterfalls, to maintain 90 miles of trails, and to support research and educational projects that protect historical and natural resources within DuPont State Recreational Forest," the group says.
Supporters and users of DuPont State Forest are concerned that the budget passed last week by the N.C. House of Representatives could change the primary orientation of the forest from recreation to timber production. They want the forest to be given a designation of its own that retains its recreational mandate (.pdf).
The budget proposal transfers the Division of Forest Services, including DuPont and Bladen Lakes state forests and seven Educational State Forests, from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources — which includes the Division of Parks and Recreation — to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Treating DuPont State Forest as a source of agricultural products could hurt recreation at the 10,400-acre forest in Transylvania and Henderson counties, Fred Roane, a board member of Friends of DuPont Forest, told Nanci Bompey of the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Supporters think the move will mean less of a focus on hiking, biking and horseback riding in the forest, and a move instead toward more logging.
"With the transfer of Forest Resources to Agriculture ... we now have a Division of Forest Resources with no recreational budget or mandate reporting to a department with no recreation budget or mandate," the four past presidents of Friends of DuPont Forest wrote in an op-ed appearing in the Henderson Times-News. "Did you know that Agriculture does not even report to the governor, but to the elected agriculture commissioner?
"The only other state forest in North Carolina is Bladen Lakes, which is run as a self-sustaining commercial tree farm with no discernible recreation system. There is discussion of closing some educational state forests. How will recreation at DuPont fare under the new management in times of severe budget cuts? Or in several years when our current dedicated supervisor retires?"
The four Friends leaders call for keeping the current hunting and fishing policies at DuPont as "a core mission of the property," and, where possible, maintaining multiple trail use, including mountain biking and equestrian use, and say they support "responsible timber management on the property outside of the current nature preserves."
Leaders of various user groups began meeting about two weeks ago as news of the potential transfer circulated, and chose Roane to lead the fledgling DuPont Recreational Working Group. They call for supporters to contact their state representatives.
"All of the persons who have begun meeting support the current recreational and land management practices, and we want to prevent any changes that would threaten the current management priorities," Roane said in a news release from the group. "We are researching whether DuPont should be something other than a 'state forest.' Perhaps some other legal recognition is necessary — like a 'state recreational forest' or a 'state recreational area' would be a better designation.”
DuPont State Forest Supervisor David Brown told the Citizen-Times he wouldn't expect management of the forest to change drastically if the transfer went through, and that some timber harvesting is likely anyway.
"I don't think it will have a significant impact on visitation, and of course, we're not going to be clear-cutting around the waterfalls," he said. "We would protect areas where we have the highest concentration of visitors."
Buses will leave the parking area approximately every 40 minutes from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday to visit Triple Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Lake Julia.
Because the buses run continuously, visitors can get off and explore each area. The Friends of DuPont State Forest, the tour sponsors, estimate three hours of more to complete the circuit.
The tour starts at the parking lot at 1300 Staton Road (N35E.11.356', W082E.37.425') in Cedar Mountain, which is just up the road from the High Falls access area. DuPont State Forest straddles the border of Henderson and Transylvania counties in southwestern North Carolina.
Bring your own food and water; the 10,400-acre forest has no facilities. Light refreshments will be available in the rustic lodge overlooking Lake Julia, which is the last stop on the tour.
The tour is free, but a $10 donation is requested.
Donations to the nonprofit Friends of DuPont Forest "are used to finance construction projects such as the shelters and picnic tables at High and Triple Falls, to maintain the 90 miles of trails, and to support research and educational projects focused on historical and natural resources with DuPont State Forest," the group says.
Gov. Bev Perdue's budget proposal would close most state parks two days a week and close Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest in Wilkes County and Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest in Bladen County altogether to save money.
Under the budget Purdue presented this week, state parks would close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except for Carolina Beach, Chimney Rock, Fort Macon, Haw River, Jockey's Ridge and Mount Mitchell, which have contracts requiring them to remain open, according to The News & Observer, and Hammocks Beach and Umstead, which are impractical to close.
Closing Rendezvous and Turnbull Creek educational state forests is attributed to low attendance and is to save $131,000, according to NBC 17.
"The governor's recommendation is to save $3 million by reducing funding to the Division of Parks and Recreation by 10 percent," the Journal says. "Staff reductions would be avoided by closing most parks two days a week. The division would be given flexibility in how to manage that."
Purdue's budget also closes the state's nine welcome centers two days a week and would eventually privatize them to save $1.9 million, the Journal says.
North Carolina's state parks reported this week they had 14 million visitors in 2010, second in attendance only to the record year of 2009.
The state has added more than 1,500 acres of natural woodlands to the Bladen Lakes State Forest near Elizabethtown, The Fayetteville Observer reported Tuesday.
Bladen Lakes is one of the largest state-owned forests in North Carolina, The Observer says. It has 130 miles of dirt roads, and is open for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and horseback riding, but requires permits.
The 1,562-acre addition comprises an approximately 777-acre Prestage tract, a 683-acre Boyette tract and the approximately 140-acre Stevens tract.
Trails at Dupont State Forest re-opened earlier this week upon completion of work to clear them of debris from winter storms, Forest Supervisor David R. Brown says on the Friends of Dupont Forest Web site.
"This does not mean that trails will be completely free of hazards," he adds. "Visitors to the forest must always be aware of their surroundings, and watch for hazards."
The winter of 2009-'10 was wetter and colder than any winter in recent years, and ice storm debris created hazards on many trails.
The Vista Trail will not be cleared or reopened, the message says.
Dupont State Forest encompasses 10,300 acres on the Transylvania/Henderson county border between Hendersonville and Brevard. The forest has four major waterfalls on Little River, including Triple Falls (below), and several more on Grassy Creek.
In another note on the site, the Friends group has announced that it will not hold the Mother's Day Tour de Falls this year. It cites "a lack of affordable buses."