People who were embroiled by both political turmoil and summer heat may have missed a bit of good news last month: Following unanimous favorable votes from both the N.C. House and Senate, Gov. Cooper signed a bill authorizing the creation of Pisgah View State Park in Western North Carolina. It will join a growing network that preserves the best of our beautiful state for future generations.
Composed of some 1,600 acres in southwest Buncombe and Haywood counties, the new park will feature, as the name says, a prominent view of Mount Pisgah. “The area is full of trails, unique habitats, cliffs, coves and upland forests that are home to several rare plant and animal species,” says a news release from the governor’s office.
The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson.
“This is an effort that has the support of the State Parks and Department of Cultural and Natural Resources,” Rep. Brian Turner, D-Buncombe, who sponsored the bill for the park in the House, told The Associated Press. “I think people recognize whenever we can create something like this and preserve land of this quality, it’s a good thing for everybody in North Carolina, not just the community where it’s placed.”
Indeed, we expect it to draw residents from the Piedmont and the coastal plain, as well as visitors from out of state.
But this is only the tip of the peak. Cooper also signed off on the creation of three new state trails: The Northern Peaks State Trail in Watauga and Ashe counties, the Wilderness Gateway State Trail in the South Mountains range through McDowell, Rutherford, Burke and Catawba counties and the Overmountain Victory State Trail, which will reach across Avery, Mitchell, McDowell, Burke, Rutherford, Polk, Caldwell, Wilkes and Surry counties.
“These new parks and trails will conserve important wildlife habitats and support North Carolina’s flourishing outdoor recreation industry,” the governor said in the news release.
The new Wilderness Gateway State Trail may eventually connect natural areas from Chimney Rock State Park to Hickory, including stops in South Mountains State Park and the town of Valdese, depending on the results of a feasibility student conducted by the state Division of Parks and Recreation.
Added to the Mountains to Sea Trail, we could wind up with a veritable honeycomb of nature trails and parks throughout the state.
And there’s no better place for it. North Carolina features some of the most rugged and beautiful landscape in the country, much in pristine condition, thanks for the foresight of predecessors who kept it from being ruined.
Much of our environment is still under threat from other quarters that would like to open our public lands to mining and drilling operations. Offshore drilling interests still threaten our coastal region, and no matter how safe an oil rig is, there’s always the risk of a deadly spill.
Our legislature doesn’t agree on much — and it doesn’t always agree on environmental protections — but it’s nice to see a show of unity when it comes to increasing our state parkland. These resources belong to the people, and provide recreation, refreshment and a respite from the pressure of everyday labors. Our thanks to the legislators on both sides who pushed for the new additions to our park system.