The public will get one more chance to weigh in on the idea of creating a new state park in a swampy area of Eastern North Carolina that’s home to what is thought to be the oldest forest east of the Rocky Mountains.
The state Division of Parks and Recreation will hold an open house in the Sampson County town of Ivanhoe on Thursday, Nov. 16, to get feedback on a plan to create a state park on the Black River in parts of Sampson, Bladen and Pender counties. The remote area is already popular with canoers and kayakers who paddle amid towering cypress trees – some 1,600 years old.
The private non-profit organization The Nature Conservancy has protected thousands of acres around the Black River through purchase and conservation easements, including 2,757-acre Roan Island which it acquired on behalf of the state Wildlife Resources Commission in the late 1990s.
The General Assembly ordered the Black River study earlier this year and set a deadline of March 1, 2018. The study will look at an area of about 2,600 acres along a 45-mile stretch of the Black River to determine whether it is suitable for a state park and to describe what such a park might look like. The study will also provide an estimated cost for developing the park.
The division of parks held previous open houses in September that drew about 200 people. Thursday’s open house will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Rowan Fire Station, 18933 N.C. 210 East in Ivanoe. There will be no formal presentation, and people can stop in to talk to representatives of the Division of Parks and Recreation at their convenience.
North Carolina has 41 state parks and recreation and natural areas, covering more than 232,000 acres. The Black River area is in a part of North Carolina considered under-served by the state parks system.