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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
"Growing DENR's Visitor Attractions and Nurturing North Carolina's Natural Resources"

This is probably not good news. At this time it is uncertain and may be best described as a being only a rumor, that talks on the state level may be taking place in the early part of 2010 which will evaluate the sustainability of Dupont State Forest becoming a NC state park. Yes, this was rumored last year as well but let me quote from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources 2009-2013 Strategic Plan:

"Develop DuPont State Forest as a model to evaluate how the divisions
of Parks and Recreation and Forest Resources and the Wildlife Resources
Commission can work together to better enhance the use of the forest
for recreation, forestry, game lands and scenic areas. (Lead: Assistant
Secretary of Natural Resources)"

and

"Open, operate and initiate visitor services at new state parks established
as part of the New Parks for a New Century program. (Lead: Division of
Parks and Recreation)"

My take on the matter is this (featuring sarcasm that only I can deliver)...

-Let's make state level budget decisions while few bikers, fewer horseback riders, less hunters, and depending on the weather, a handful of hikers are using the forest less and are therefore slightly out of the loop and current events.

-Let's make decisions now and then hold the public input meetings. Kind of a little like the Mills River (Brushy Ridge) logging plan.

-Let's build something new or add to an existing well-functioning model because our state budget is cut everywhere else and there is no better short-term solution to get money flowing into our state economy than by exploiting our local resource that's doing an above-average job of holding it's own.

-Let's charge all the users at Dupont a parking fee, and to swim and hike to the waterfalls, and let's give some consideration to renting out the horse stables, or better yet, charge users to ride horses as we lead out our own guided tours.

-We can open up our roads in the middle of the forest so that more people don't have to hike as far to see the waterfalls. Wait a second.... I guess this will result in fewer charity rides, runs, events in general because of the increase in safety concerns associated with the now present cars in the middle of the forest. Oh well. Or here's an idea, we can eliminate this conflict altogether by just closing the trails and roads in the middle of the forest to bikes and horses. There we go!

-Let's charge users to camp overnight, but wait, we will have to close all the gates at night.

-I guess we'll have to have/ hire security patrols because now no one should be using the forest after dark. Don't forget that there will now more of a criminal element that associates itself with state parks that is generally absent from state forests. Yipee to graffiti! We can bust hoodlums! (And look at our badges.)

PS: All you hunters will have to go somewhere else because you can't discharge a weapon in a state park.

But there is an upside. More signs will be placed along Dupont, Reasonover, Statton, and Crab Creek Roads that will highlight the exact volunteer group that is now picking up all the diapers, random sneakers, trash bags, and broken glass. Cool. Free advertising.

I can go on and on. But I am tired. Look forward to my upcoming additions that will feature alternatives to a State Park designation as well as the damaging potential effects on our local economy. I'm really looking forward to the alternatives, because it's crazy how many of them that are already in place. Call me bitter. But then call me unemployed because of previous state budget cuts. Just don't call me on my home phone....

I would like to end this by stating that the group of forest service representatives that currently manage Dupont are really doing an excellent job. They have been easy to work with during special events. They have a good vision and are headed in the right direction regarding sustainability. They are well trained. They regard the forest as their own and as such are invested in maintaining it's character. And they are appreciative of all the volunteer work that has been put in by various user groups. Also keep in mind the wonderful relationship that the Friends Of Dupont State Forest maintain with the current personnel and their associated advocacy. I press you to pay attention and become involved in 2010. Here is a link to the strategic plan: http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document...a91-b342-48e2-b941-2bdc0b430e98&groupId=17388
 

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drunken pirate
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I don't see this just being pushed through silently. One look at the history of Dupont shows that the forest's users aren't going to agree to Dupont becoming a standard NC State Park. Friends of Dupont is very active and has a voice. I'll be interested in seeing what develops with this but personally am not worried.
 

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I agree with driftwood that this will not be pushed silently. There is a growing concern in the NCWRC that the numbers are down in hunting. Simply changing the land status from State Forest to State Park will give way to resistance from hunters as a well as NCWRC employees. I can see this area getting fragmeneted into "user specific" areas but not completly changed.
 

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Great Closing Comments, Chief!

CHIEF said:
I would like to end this by stating that the group of forest service representatives that currently manage Dupont are really doing an excellent job. They have been easy to work with during special events. They have a good vision and are headed in the right direction regarding sustainability. They are well trained. They regard the forest as their own and as such are invested in maintaining its character. And they are appreciative of all the volunteer work that has been put in by various user groups. Also keep in mind the wonderful relationship that the Friends Of Dupont State Forest maintain with the current personnel and their associated advocacy. I press you to pay attention and become involved in 2010. [/url]
Chief,
Thanks for ending your post on such a positive note. The NCDFR (Division of Forest Resources) folks we've worked with at DSF are great people who try to keep the Forest open to ALL users. Likewise, FoDF folks are trying to maintain the present character of the Forest...

I'm on the FoDF Trails Committee, and have been hearing rumors of the management changes, but have not been free to discuss these rumors on a public forum. If DNR is posting the concept, however, I feel I can pass along some of the things I'm hearing within FoDF. We're hearing that the Forest will be 'co-managed' by NCDFR, NCWRC, and NCDPR (Division of Parks and Rec), and that MOST of the Forest would continue to be called (and managed as) "forest"... What does that really mean?? We'll find out in a couple months, I guess... The Trails Committee has asked that ALL trails currently seeing shared use continue to see shared use--no feedback there, either. We've also asked that any new trails be shared-use. Again, no feedback to date. And I've heard nothing about fees, etc. As Driftwood and others point out, DSF's history proves that Forest users will not be quietly pushed into a corner.

So, thanks for pulling the discussion into a public forum, for keeping the discussion positive, and for pointing out the good things that have been done in DSF by its many volunteers. If people "...pay attention and become involved in 2010...", as you've requested, the many Forest users who share DSF will have a great place to play for many years to come...

Regards,
TZ
 

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Jan. 25th meeting

Greetings all,

Like TZ, I have an "official opinion" in this matter. That is due to me serving on the Advisory Committee for DuPont. I have served on that for many years now, the position is appointed by the Sec. of DENR.

We have an upcoming Advisory Committee meeting on Jan. 25th and Asst. Sec. of DENR David Knight will present the departments thoughts on managing DuPont.

No need to over react now, my guess is nothing will change for mountain bike access. I will post an update after that meeting.

Generally speaking, mountain biking has always been a welcome user group at DSF. Forest Supervisor David Brown knows all too well that we have done the bulk of good volunteer trail work in the forest and he would not want to do anything to jeopardize that. There is still a lot of work to do to make DuPont a model sustainable trail system, and the mountain bike community will continue to lead that charge.

Woody
 

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I'm new to the area, so this makes me a bit nervous as I moved here mainly for mountain biking. In Wisconsin, State Parks allow mountain biking, but you have to purchase a trail pass and parking pass, and the parks are closed if it rains at all. What are the state parks like in NC? I haven't had a chance to research it much, but I ride at Dupont all of the time, and I would love to continue riding the trails as much as possible...
 

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DuPont is a State Forest, not a State Park. Trail management in DuPont is quite different than State Parks and has always focused on shared use trails and being very mountain bike friendly.

NC State Parks have not historically been friendly to mountain biking, there is only one NC state park that has single track riding (Lake Norman). SORBA Executive Director and IMBA Regional Director Tom Sauret had a meeting a month or so ago with NC State Parks Director Lewis Ledford and also high ranking officials from NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Tom reported to me that the meeting was very good.

In some ways, the current success at trail management is having a positive influence on how state parks view mountain bikes.

The best way to deal with your concerns is to get involved. Join Pisgah Area SORBA (if you have not already done so). Join us for volunteer work days in DuPont (and other ride venues) and help to show land managers that mountain bikers are responsible users of public lands and willing to give back to the trails we use (and have an impact on).

I will be announcing our first trail workday for DuPont here shortly, and will start a new thread for that announcement.

Woody
 

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My concern would be limiting or removing mountain bike access at Dupont if it were to become a state park, as you've touched on. I would love to get involved with trail work. Sundays are usually the only day that I can volunteer, along with Saturday mornings. I know that the last few workdays that I've seen posted have been Saturdays. Has anybody been on the trails since the snowfall? Are there a lot of downed trees? I couldn't believe all of the fallen trees along Highway 26 through Asheville.
 

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"My concern would be limiting or removing mountain bike access at Dupont if it were to become a state park, as you've touched on."

Let's not assume anything at this point. They are talking about State Parks helping to manage DuPont, but to the best of my knowledge they are not suggesting a take over by state parks. Again, I will know more after the important Jan 25th meeting and will keep you posted. In the meantime, let's not blow this out of proportion.

"I would love to get involved with trail work. Sundays are usually the only day that I can volunteer, along with Saturday mornings. I know that the last few workdays that I've seen posted have been Saturdays."

We will host more workdays in DuPont on Sundays in 2010. We will also continue to hist work weekends with a workday on Sat. with free camping and a group ride on Sunday.

"Has anybody been on the trails since the snowfall? Are there a lot of downed trees? I couldn't believe all of the fallen trees along Highway 26 through Asheville."

I hope to get over to DuPont this afternoon to check in with forest management on an upcoming work project (next Sunday, details later). I would expect that there are a number of trails that have downfall, seems to be the norm around here.

Woody
 

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Thanks for the responses! I'm looking forward to getting out on the trails, working and riding. The trails I've ridden in Bent Creek, Dupont, and Pisgah are some of the best that I've ever ridden. Thanks to all of the people that have helped make them what they are. Happy Holidays!
 

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The DSF Advisory Committee is on Monday afternoon, I will post an update after the meeting on what takes place and what is presented. As I have noted before, I don't think this to be bad for mountain biking in DuPont. In fact, I think it could out to be a good thing for mountain biking and DuPont.

Woody
 

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mountaingoatcycles.com
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Woodman said:
NC State Parks have not historically been friendly to mountain biking, there is only one NC state park that has single track riding (Lake Norman).
Woody
As Woody mentioned, Lake Norman State Park has the only true singletrack trails in the State Park system. We have over 10 years invested in the project so we are intimately familiar with dealing with the DENR.

There are good and bad points but it does take a radical change in attitude when building trails. Everything has to be approved by multiple different layers of government and it really slows things down to a crawl. Some of the regulations dealing with things such as bridges are completely ridiculous but that is the price we pay to be able to use the land. Things are changing for the better but it takes people getting involved to make it happen.

Some of the things that take some getting used to:
-trails are only open during park hours
-trails are one direction (which is reversed annually)
-trails will be closed to prevent trail damage and it is trespassing on state property if you ride trails when they are closed (about $125 fine/court costs)
-multiple layers in the approval process
-bridges that you could drive a tractor trailer over
-stream crossings are tough to get approved

Not sure what would happen at DuPont since the trails already exist and it isn't as contained as Lake Norman. The DENR is willing to listen and work with us but it takes a good amount of give and take. As more and more parks get mountain bike trails, it will get easier for all of us. I have even seen the change in attitude with each new section of trail we build. The park staff and the trail builders just have to get used to working with one another and each group typically comes from to the table with different priorities.

The important thing is to get involved to make sure your voice is heard. Make sure not to overreact and to get the facts before getting too worked up about possible changes.

If anyone is interested, I have a lot of our paperwork which is being developed as a template for future state park projects.
 

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I'm gonna be a bit upset if DuPont becomes a state park. It's perfect just the way it is.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS PURE SPECULATION ON MY PART

What really bothers me is this. There was a survey done recently by the NC state park service. We organized many mtn bikers to respond to the survey to show support for adding mtn bike trails to the state parks. Seeing as Lake Norman is the only park in the system with bike trails there is a huge hole in the park system when it comes to meeting the needs of mtn bikers. Many cyclists responded to the survey and the survey numbers were very positive to the need for biking in state parks.

As a result of the survey, the park service knows that there is a huge demand for bike trails in state parks. They have a few options. Spend lots of money to build new trails in the existing parks. Ignore the need. OR they could just make a new state park from some public lands that already have bike trails. Hey DuPont has great bike trails! Bingo! Make DuPont a state park so those bike folks will have a place to ride. It's win win right?
 

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I have said this before, but it seems to need to be said again. Let's not over react here folks, not until we really need to based on something we get from the horse's mouth (DENR officials).

The early info that I am getting is that they do not want to make DuPont a state park. They also do not intend to compartmentalize DuPont. I will post more this evening after the meeting, but for the time being please know that mountain bikers have a voice and a seat at the table (me). It would help me if you all don't go hog wild with the rumor mill and speculations.

I really think this is going to be a good thing for DSF and getting single track trails into other state parks. That is my goal.

Woody
 

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my opinion

This may be a slighly different way to think about it.

First, I agree with Woody, let's wait and see. I think they are going to use DuPont primarily to train State Park Staff in recreation management. Here is a facility within the state system that has a working alliance between all of the user groups. Why? I think that is the question they are going to try and answer.I think they know the solutions at LNSP are a bit of a band-aid, but they are trying. This is another step forward. The survey results clearly stated people ACROSS THE STATE want more mountain bike access, yet the staff at these parks have never had to manage that use. DuPont is a great training ground for the management of a number of user groups. It is also probably one of the largest trail networks in the system. I am typically very pecimistic, but my gut, from experience working with and for state parks, tells me this is good overall. We will see.

Ben
 

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Ben has some good points. Hopefully he knows me well enough and has worked with me to know to also trust my gut.

We had a proposal in many years ago to use RTP Education money to set up DuPont as a Trails Training Center within the state. We got a little traction on that at the time and full support from the State Trails Committee (who decide how to allocate the state's RTP money). This idea died down in Raleigh at the time. I have heard some rumor about it coming back to life.

I should have mentioned that DuPont was rated the number one mountain bike trail system by the readers of Blue Ridge Magazine (current issue), this is the second time in 5 or so years that we have received that praise. I will have that issue with me when I go into the meeting today and make sure DENR folks see that. I don't think they want to strip that by changing mountain bike access in DuPont, in fact I think they want to continue to build on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
3000 acres?

So the big meeting took place today right? Wonder what was discussed? Was establishing the central portion of the present state forest as a state park brought up? Or the elimination of hunting? Playing the devil's advocate here. Woody I know you were there. A penny for your thoughts big fella.
 
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