RALEIGH — The State of North Carolina is seeking public input for a study on the feasibility and suitability of a state park on the Black River in parts of Sampson, Bladen, and Pender counties.
During the last legislative session, the N.C. General Assembly directed the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation to undertake the study and report results to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources by March 1, 2018.
The public meeting schedule is as follows:
— Bladen County – Thursday, Sept. 14, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Public Library at 111 North Cypress St. in Elizabethtown.
— Pender County – Monday, Sept. 18, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Cooperative Extension Office at 801 South Walker St. in Burgaw.
— Sampson County – Tuesday, Sept. 19, 4 to 7 p.m. at Union Elementary School at 10400 Taylors Bridge Highway in Clinton.
The Black River is home to large cypress trees, some of which are more than 1,600 years old, making it a popular paddling destination in an area currently underserved by the State Parks system. The study area is roughly 2,600 acres and includes 45 miles of the Black River corridor.
The study will create a vision for what a state park, natural area, or trail could look like, including what amenities would be most important to nearby communities and other potential users. It will include an evaluation of the natural and cultural heritage significance of the area, whether it meets criteria to be part of the state park system, the suitability of the Black River for recreation, and a cost estimate for developing the park.
A series of public meetings will be held to seek public input as part of the study. They will be in an open house format to allow the public to stop in at any time to provide comments and ask questions about the proposed park. Members of the design team, park rangers and staff from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will be on hand to answer questions.