Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor Recreation’

Chimney Rock has long been the major attraction drawing people to Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure every summer. However it was on private property for the last century. In July 2006 the owners (the Morse family) decided to list the Park for sale. less than a year later, NC Governor Mike Easley announced that the State of NC, with the help of several partners (The Nature Conservancy, the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and others), had purchased Chimney Rock Park for $24 million to be the centerpiece of a new state park under development in Hickory Nut Gorge.

Today, A draft master plan for Chimney Rock State Park will be presented online for public review. Public comments on the plan will be accepted through Dec. 13, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Comments will be considered for the final master plan expected to be completed in early 2011.

A state park’s master plan is essentially a blueprint for long-term development of facilities and recreation opportunities and a guide for protection of natural resources. Three initial design alternatives were publicly presented earlier this year by Greenways Inc., a Durham-based environmental planning and landscape architecture firm responsible for completing the master plan. The alternatives differed primarily in the extent of development proposed.

The final draft master plan can be viewed at starting today.Written comments may be submitted by using an online comment sheet or by mail.

This appears to be a win for outdoor recreation in general, but a bit of a disappointment for climbers. The existing climbing area on Rumbling Bald will be preserved – with improved parking and access; new mountain bike trails will be created; and overnight primitive camping areas for backpacking will be created. However there are several areas with 100+ years of climbing history representing hundreds of established routes that will not be opened up to the climbing community under this plan. This new park could have been a true climbing destination area, but instead the state is maintaining the status quo.