North Carolina Looking into Closing State Parks in the Winter

Mt.Mitchell tower - artist rendition


While I was busy worrying about including EarthShare in the Asheville City employee giving program, a blog reader alerted me to another problem. A commission is looking into closing our North Carolina State Parks in the winter to save $2.4 million. The headlines said “millions of dollars” but the details show only 2.4 millions. They’re also talking about the possibility of closing cultural resources and state museums. Look at this report.

Are they serious? I don’t know but we better take them seriously.

The legislature ordered the study last year to determine whether the state could save money by consolidating administration “and to suggest optimal operating schedules for sites.” This was the first that I’ve heard about this study. It certainly did not make the Asheville Citizen-Times. Why has the media in the mountains been so silent about it?

We, in Western North Carolina, are blessed with Federal lands, such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pisgah National Forest, which cannot be closed. The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed for various reasons in the winter and therefore Mt. Mitchell State Park is also often closed as well. We also have Chimney Rock State Park.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be outraged. Parks in the Piedmont and the Coast provide good winter recreation for millions when facilities are legitimately closed for winter weather in the Mountains.

So what would it mean for the folks walking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail? Even if we accept that Mt. Mitchell would be closed in the winter, the potential closures would mean no access to:

Stone Mountain
Pilot Mountain
Hanging Rock
Eno River 
Falls River
Jockey’s Ridge

The subcommittee will report back to the committee in March with potential recommendations for the full committee. The full legislature would have to approve any changes. This is the time to write to your North Carolina state representatives and state senators.

If the State really needs the 2.4 million dollars, why not charge two dollars a day like they do in South Carolina

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