RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill Tuesday that authorizes three new state natural areas for the North Carolina State Parks system and directs a study for a potential state park along the Black River in the southeastern part of the state.
The bill authorizes the addition of Bob’s Pocket in McDowell County, Warwick Mill Bay in Robeson County and Salmon Creek in Bertie County to the state parks system as state natural areas.
The bill also directs the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation to study the feasibility of establishing a state park on the Black River in Bladen, Pender and Sampson counties. The park would be home to some of the oldest trees east of the Rocky Mountains — cypress trees more than 1,600 years old. The study will explore the natural resources, land use, costs, and impacts on surrounding communities that would result from a state park designation.
“From the mountains to the coast, our state parks and state natural areas protect North Carolina’s treasured natural resources for all of us to enjoy,” said Gov. Cooper. “I’m proud to continue this tradition by adding these three unique properties to our state parks system.”
North Carolina’s state natural areas preserve and protect areas of scientific, aesthetic, or ecological value with more limited recreation. Facilities are limited to those needed for interpretation, protection, and maintenance.
The three new state natural areas will protect some of North Carolina’s most distinctive natural resources. Bob’s Pocket is a series of sheltered coves and ravines with rare flora and geology. Warwick Mill Bay is home to herons, egrets, amhingas, alligators, and the federally threatened wood storm among other wildlife. Salmon Creek features cypress-gum swamps, freshwater tidal marshes, and several archaeological sites. These three properties will offer minimal impact access for birdwatching, photography, and scientific research.
“These additions to our state parks system are truly special,” Mike Murphy, state parks director, said. “Not only do they represent outstanding natural communities, but they also protect lands in areas of the state that are currently underserved by our state parks system. State natural areas help preserve North Carolina’s heritage for future generations, and they provide living laboratories for our state’s students and scientists.”