Western State Parks Closed To Assist Firefighting Effort
RALEIGH, N.C. – Several state parks in western North Carolina have been closed to allow additional staff and resources to be deployed to fight wildfires in South Mountains State Park and in and around Chimney Rock State Park, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation announced today.
In addition to those parks, where fires have burned approximately 1,000 acres in both locations, the division has closed New River, Gorges, Elk Knob, Lake James and Mount Mitchell state parks and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. People planning to visit other state parks in the western part of the state are advised to check the division’s web site at http://www.ncparks.gov/ before making the trip. The parks will reopen when the fires are contained or extinguished and staff are able to return to their assigned parks. A handful of staff will remain on duty in the closed parks for security purposes.
“It is never an easy decision to close parks, but our utmost priority is the protection of life and property in the parks and the surrounding communities,” Mike Murphy, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, said. “The dedicated park rangers, maintenance staff and other staff from our agency are working diligently and cooperatively with partner agencies and the local communities as part of this effort.”
The division has also expanded its burning ban on all fire, including charcoal, to all parks west of Interstate 95.
About the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation
The Division of Parks and Recreation manages more than 230,000 acres of iconic landscape within North Carolina’s state parks, state recreation areas and state natural areas. It administers the N.C Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, including its local grants program, as well as a state trails program, North Carolina Natural and Scenic Rivers and more, all with a mission dedicated to conservation, recreation and education. The state parks system welcomes more than 17 million visitors annually and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.