Dupont State Forest or State Park?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Dupont State Forest or State Park?

    Folks,

    Please see my commnets below to state officials concerning a proposal to turn some of DSF lands over to state parks for management. I was asked to comment becuase I serve on the DSF Advisory Committee as appointed by the governor.

    Woody

    Folks,



    Thanks for the opportunity to (again) comment on a proposal for some of the DSF lands to transfer over to state parks. I was a bit surprised to hear this come up again but so be it, it gives us yet another chance to comment and influence a final outcome for DuPont.



    I have been intimately involved in DSF from day one and continue a high level of commitment. In addition to working there as a contractor on paid trail projects, I continue to lead volunteer work projects and hold educational workshops on sustainable trail principles. My most recent class/workshop was back in Feb. for Pisgah Area SORBA (Southern Off Road Bicycling Association). As has been the case for many other educational workshops, we used the Guion Farmhouse building which works out great. Thanks to David for supporting this important workshops. For more on this recent workshop, please see: http://pisgahareasorba.org/docs/March2007.pdf





    I have been and continue to be opposed to a change of significant management structure in DuPont State Forest. Yielding some of the property over to State Parks would certainly entail a significant management change.



    DSF has always been a very unique state public lands and the public has seemed to be more than comfortable with that. I spend as much time in the forest as anybody interacting with visitors and have never had anyone ask me about a fancy visitorís center or where they can find flush toilets. In fact, I have never seen anything but smiles on visitorís faces and folks having a great time visiting the waterfalls and many other cool landscapes features whether on foot, horseback or bike.



    The major attraction to some land conversion to state parks seems to be better funding for facilities. While I would agree that capital improvement monies are desperately needed in DSF, I somehow doubt that on the same day that new state park signs would be delivered from Raleigh there would also be a large bag of cash in the same vehicle delivering the signs. Would the land contained in and around the waterfalls (or a larger parcel) be better managed just because the managing agency wore a uniform of a slightly different shade of green? I am not convinced the answer to this question is yes.



    If Raleigh has money to spend on a State Park in DuPont, then Raleigh has the same amount of money to allocate to DFR for a state forest in DuPont. It is just another budget or billing number within the DENR budget. Yes, state parks can apply for PARTF money as a source for capital improvements. Why not make that same pot of money available to DSF to tap into. It would take legislation from general assembly to create a new state park, why not create legislation that would allow for better funding for our state forests?



    I think we need to be thinking out of the box, after all the history of DSF is very out of the box. Those of us who worked so hard to protect the forest from private development were told point blank and early on that we would never win. Guess what?



    I would again like to propose the idea that DSF be declared a State Recreational Forest and be managed by DFR. A special designation different from other state forest would set it apart and could have special funding source attached to such a bill.



    Another option would be to dedicate it as a State Recreational Area (such as Kerr Lake, Fort Fisher, or Jordan Lake) or State Natural Area (such as Mt. Jefferson), both of which currently exist as state designations. The only difference is that DuPont State Recreational Area would be managed by DFR not state parks.



    Precedent for such already exists in federal land managing agencies. National Monuments were traditionally managed by the National Park Service (Dept of Interior) but there are now National Monuments managed by the USDA-Forest Service and BLM. Likewise, National Recreation Areas can be managed by any of the major federal land managing agencies; Mt. Rogers NRA in VA is managed by the USFS as an example.



    Do we really need to look at this as an either/or scenario?



    The state has recently purchased Chimney Rock Park. No doubt that Chimney Rock will be a very different state park as compared with more traditional parks. My guess is that in addition to the 24million purchase price, there are 10s of millions that will need to be spent to bring this formally private park up to state standards. For the first time, NC needs to be looking at charging entrance fees into this new (and) different state park. Thinking out of the box is a great conservation tool and we need to apply that to managing DSF.



    Several respondents have noted that DSF manages trails as good as or better than state parks. I would agree that we have made some serious headway in improving sustainability of recreational corridors considering the fact that many poor alignment extraction routes were adopted. It should be no secret why trail management in DSF is what and where it is. We had held many trail design and construction workshops/seminars (for multi use trails) in DSF dating back to spring 2001 with an IMBA Trail Care Crew visit. Please see: http://www.imba.com/tcc/2001/dupont.html

    There has been 3 Trail Guru Gatherings hosted by myself; each of which brought in trail professionals from all over the US to work for a week improving trail conditions and teaching new sustainable techniques. There were several newspaper articles featuring such events, I have great clippings to that effect. DSF management have been willing to learn from outside sources (trail professional) and have taken the many educational trainings and informal sessions to heart.



    NC State Parks are not necessarily better trail managers than current DSF staff. To the contrary, NC State Parks indeed has a long way to go and a lot to learn about trails management. NC Western Trails Specialist Dwayne Stutzman and I crafted and drafted a proposal to use DSF as an outdoor classroom (along with the indoor classrooms) and what we were calling NC Trails Education Center. Unfortunately, this proposal did not get very far in Raleigh. The education and training that such a proposal would have provided is sorely needed as trail use increases in our state parks and forests. I just taught a 1 day workshop (as part of the SE Hiking Trails Festival and Conference in Montreat) and did have Cheryl Waltz from South Mountain State Parks sit in. This was a mini workshop (shortened to 1 day) version of the popular 2 day Art and Science of Trails Workshop that I teach all the time. Please see: http://www.trailbuilders.org/confere...science06.html





    I have visited many state park trails and trail systems and there is little to brag about there. As president of the Professional TrailBuilders Association, I am well aware of trail contracts that our members are working on. I know of and have visited NC State Park projects under construction and have witnessed some really badly eroded trails (due to poor design and long term management). Yes, I am aware of big money trail projects being funded by PARTF. Some of these projects are over Ĺ million for 1 mile of trail and only serves hikers. The state does need to find funding sources that would allow DSF better upgrades of the extensive and well used trail system (which is a good thing, we want people to use trails). A injection of Ĺ or 1 million dollars into the DSF trail system would affect much more linear distance (as compared with some these heavy rock intensive state park projects) and more importantly be used by many more tax payers and visitors (via various forms of trail travel) to NC public lands.



    A change over to state parks management would seem to change much about current management in the DuPont lands. I have heard little if any complaints about current management style or philosophy. Why then change such? Hunting has been a welcomed use group in the forest and the controlled and limited hunting seems to work well. I have enjoyed my interactions with sportsmen and other recreational users seem to be getting along with this user group just fine. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no safety incidents related to hunting and other forest visitors.



    While I donít want to see extensive logging operations in DSF, I do agree that some timber management demonstrations would be a good use of the land. Improving wildlife habitat with small well built food plot (wildlife clearings) certainly gets my support. Removing unnatural plantation pine stands and returning the land to a more natural state (hardwoods) is also something that I fully support.



    The roads system suffers from poor design and a lack of maintenance for many years. Using these roads as BMP demonstrations for forest roads also gets my vote. I would however urge consideration that these same roads are used heavily as recreational corridors and therefore aesthetics are also important. Please consider roads to trails conversions where road width is not needed for fire management or other administrative use. Road to trail conversions are much cheaper and therefore cost effective as compared with upgrading roads with extensive grading and surfacing (needed if full road width is to remain).



    Trail management in DSF has adopted a multi use policy for most trails and this seems to be working well (state parks does not recognize multi use trails as a legitimate management style, and yet DSF has proven it to work). This is not to say that all trails should be open to all users, but a trail system in which many trails are shared helps to foster good relationships between the different user groups. DSF management has been willing to learn from outside experts how to best manage and reduce user conflict issues (though good planning and design). I do support some single use trails in DSF including a new equestrian only loop to help those with horses in training get familiar with other forest visitors by interaction in parking areas and at trail junctions while allowing for a comfortable trail experience until the horse is well trained.



    State Park management might would entail or encourage greater vehicle ingress into the forest bringing people closer to the waterfalls via cars. This will be heavily fought on the local end here. Current management encourages visitors to get out of vehicles and get some exercise while earning views of the impressive landscapes including the famous waterfalls. We need more public lands that do this; obesity is a major health concern (number 1) in the US and casual walking on roads and trails to visit the waterfalls is a good thing. There are plenty of drive by waterfalls and vistas here locally serving those that desire such an experience (Looking Galls Falls in Pisgah and the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, many miles of which are easily accessible in this area).





    Because of local opposition to proposals for state park management (from the advisory committee and FODF), a ďhostile takeoverĒ of the land and management would likely result in reduced public support and a reduction in outside sources of funding (both of which have been proven to be very important). This should be carefully considered in making this important decision.



    In closing, I remain very opposed to any lands being turned over to State Parks and do not believe that would solve all (or any) problems. Letís think out of the box and be a bit more creative when we develop management strategies for DuPont. Letís consider the State Recreational Forest or State Recreation Area managed by DFR. Such a management structure could allow for all current uses (some timber management, wildlife management including lottery hunting, and a shared use trail system with an over all emphasis on recreation) while finding better funding to infuse much needed capital improvements in what has become an important recreation facility for many.



    The state of NC has a grand opportunity to shed light on the important work that DFR does and help tax payers become more familiar and accepting of this work. We have the opportunity to start a trend that could allow for more recreational use of public land managed by DFR which can help tax payers feel more positive about this land managing agency (current sentiment is likely neutral or negative, with the exception of DSF). Letís not loose this opportunity by simply handing DSF over to state parks.



    I look forward to continued discussion on this important issue.



    Woody Keen

    President- Trail Dynamics LLC

    President- Professional Trailbuilders Association

    Board of Directors- IMBA

    Certified NC Clear Water Contractor

    ----- Original Message -----

  2. #2
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    Nicely done.
    I hate rude behavior in a man.....won't tolerate it. - Woodrow F Call.

  3. #3
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    All of the advisory committee members commented in opposition to any state park ideas, as did the board of FODF. I am hoping we have killed this proposal for the last time.

    Woody

  4. #4
    Its got what plants crave
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    I like DuPont just the way it is.

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