Letters to the Editor

Michael Murphy: Connect NC would help maintain state parks

The benefits of North Carolina’s stunning state parks are varied and numerous. The 75 units are economic dynamos both for North Carolina’s tourism industry and for their communities, many in rural areas. The parks contribute to North Carolinians’ wellness, provide recreation, protect water and air quality and counterbalance development pressure.

This beautiful strand of state parks helps define who we are as North Carolinians.

The state parks system is a source of pride, having grown from 525 acres on Mount Mitchell in 1916 to nearly a quarter-million acres of breathtaking landscapes, lush forests, pristine waters and valued species, while hosting a record-setting 17.3 million visitors in 2015. These iconic landmarks are directly connected to tradition, legacy and an outright love of the “goodliest land under the cope of heaven.”

During 2016, every state park will hold a special centennial event, each one reflecting the local flavor of the park and its bond with the community.

The centennial is a time to renew our commitment to conservation in North Carolina and the stewardship of its resources. Consider learning about the Connect NC bond proposal, which will direct $75 million for improvement projects to the state parks.

Let 2016 be the year that we reconnect with the landscapeand celebrate what’s “naturally wonderful” about North Carolina.

Michael Murphy

Director, N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation