Boone Mountain Times Nov. 11, 2004

National Committee Adds On To State Park With Latest Purchase

By Miles Tager

The North Carolina State Park System has increased its stature in the
mountains the past few years, with local voluntary initiatives helping to
create new public lands on Elk Knob, Beech Creek Bog, and Bullhead Mountain.

The latest addition to the system comes courtesy of the National Committee
for the New River (NCNR), the High Country-based conservation group that
announced this week the latest purchase of private lands they will donate to
become part of the New River State Park.

The property, a 110-acre tract along the National Scenic River section of
the South Fork of the New River, represents the second donation to the park,
according to NCNR Land Protection Director Eric Hiegl.

“After two and a half years of work, we are very pleased to have closed on
the New River Heights property in Scottsville, northern Ashe County,” Hiegl
said.

Working with voluntary landowners, the National Committee for the New River
protects beautiful riverfront and other adjacent lands for low-impact
recreational use. Photo courtesy of National Committee for the New River

“This is our second ‘handover’ to the park,” Hiegl said; the first coming in
1998 when the NCNR donated a fifty-acre tract adjacent to this most recent
purchase and donation.

The new section of park will for the short-term remain “without facilities
and have river access only,” Hiegl said; “this tract preserves the viewshed”
in an area that has seen subdivision development creep along the river.

“Canoeists and fisherman will continue to enjoy the natural rural setting of
this beautiful section of the river,” Hiegl said.

Funding for the project came from the unique North Carolina Ecosystem
Enhancement Program (NCEEP), a partnership of the state Department of
Transportation and Department of Natural Resources and the federal U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers.

In July, 2003, the state began this initiative to “restore, enhance and
protect its wetlands and waterways, and to help preserve open space across
the state,” according to the NCEEP mission statement.

Unfortunately, monies for the program were pulled this year, Hiegl said,
with the NCNR “getting the last one in” for funding before it was
terminated.

The property includes 4,000 feet of riverfront that touches in two different
places along a classic New River horseshoe bend, and contains cliff faces
and a variety “biologically significant” natural communities including some
old growth Canada hemlocks and Rich Cove forest segments, Hiegl said.

“The National Committee for the New River does not condemn land,” Hiegl
said; “we work with landowners interested in voluntarily protecting their
property.”

The purchase, protection and transfer of additional lands to a popular local
state park represents “a long and complicated project, but it was worth all
the effort to protect this beautiful piece of land.”

The NCNR mission is to “protect and enhance the natural and cultural
resources of the New River and its watershed.”

For more information please call 336-246-4871 or visit the NCNR office on
Jefferson Avenue in downtown West Jefferson.