By Karen Chávez , email@example.com
CEDAR MOUNTAIN – Bev Parlier has been waiting a long time to see DuPont State Recreational Forest become complete by filling in the “doughnut hole.”
The so-called hole was a privately owned center of the sprawling and scenic state forest between Hendersonville and Brevard that attracts nearly 700,000 visitors a year.
It is a lonely hole no longer.
DuPont Corp., which owned an abandoned industrial site on a 476-acre property for years, donated the land to the state in late December.
The donation brings DuPont to nearly 11,000 acres of oak-hickory forests, waterfalls, lakes and rock faces. It also offers 80 miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, hunters and anglers, and habitat for wildlife and rare plants.
“We’ve been hearing it will happen in five more years, then we’d hear it’s another five years. Last year we heard maybe it will happen this year and then one day it happened,” said Parlier, president of the nonprofit Friends of DuPont State Forest.
The Friends group, which has some 400 members, supports the state-run forest with volunteer visitor center staffing, trail maintenance, litter cleanup, educational programs and fundraising. The group was one of many entities pushing for acquisition of the doughnut hole for years.
The donation resulted from the Department of Agriculture working with the Department of Environmental Quality, DuPont Corp., the N.C. National Guard and others, said DuPont State Supervisor Jason Guidry.
Parlier said she got the news in December from Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson.
McGrady started out as a citizen activist to establish DuPont State Forest in the late ‘90s, before his political career as a county commissioner and then state representative began. He has continued to support the forest expansion.
“Normally public land acquisition work takes a lifetime. In a relatively short period of time, we went from having no state forest, to having a gorgeous large tract of land that protects all those beautiful features that can be enjoyed by the public,” McGrady said.
“It’s arguably the best thing I’ve worked on as a public official.”
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