North Carolina-North Carolina State Parks-January 22

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-January 22

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.

In my role at UNC Pembroke I have become very familiar with a number of different aspects of state government. In learning more about the upcoming CONNECT NC bond referendum on March 15, 2016 I have received a real good history lesson on North Carolina’s State Parks. The bond if passed would provide support to North Carolina State parks and the NC Zoo in the amount of 100 Million dollars.

The story of how North Carolina’s State Parks got their beginning is not pretty.

The parks system was begun in 1916 when a group of citizens sought to protect the summit of Mount Mitchell.

Mount Mitchell had become under attack by miners and especially the lumber industry. Local citizens contact then NC Governor Locke Craig and asked him to come see for himself what clear cutting looked like at Mount Mitchell.

Clear Cutting Mountain

He was horrified and demanded that the lumber harvesting cease until he could get back to Raleigh and speak with the General Assembly.

Governor Craig appeals were successful when on March 15, 1915 the General Assembly passed a bill establishing Mount Mitchell as North Carolina’s State Park.

NC State park logo

For his efforts Governor Locke Craig had a mountain peak named for him.


Photo of Governor Craig

Locke Craig Image

Mount Mitchell became the first state park in the Southeast and among the first in the nation. Many of the state parks were initiated by local citizens with a strong conservation ethic.

Today North Carolina has 35 State parks including Lumber River State Park located in parts of Robeson County. It is the state park with the greatest geographic expanse, it preserves the banks of the Lumber River.

Princess Anne

More than 15 million people visit the state parks each year. The state parks system employs about 400, and nearly 200 of those are park rangers and park superintendents who are commissioned law enforcement officers.

Hoping on March 15, 2016 that voters in North Carolina will continue a 100 year old dream to keep investing in State Parks.

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