Crowds converge on Hooker Falls. Photo by David Brown

Crowds converge on Hooker Falls. Photo by David Brown

by Nancy Kay

The NC state budget has been finalized and it’s all fantastic news for DuPont State Recreational Forest. The initial House budget called for substantial financial support for the Forest, but the Senate version allocated no funding whatsoever. Special thanks to Representative Chuck McGrady and Senator Tom Apodaca for doing the nudging needed to help Senate members come to their senses.

In a recent general assembly bulletin, NC Representative Chuck McGrady reported:

After many long days and nights, the budget is finally done. The Conference Committee reconciled the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget, and it was publicly released. This conferenced version of the budget cannot be amended.

Now, here’s the wonderful news. The budget provides $629,335 in recurring funds to support nine positions and associated operating expenses at DuPont State Recreational Forest. Additionally, the budget earmarks $3,000,000 (yep, you read all those zeros correctly!) for the construction and improvement of additional bathrooms, utilities, and parking lots.

These funds will allow development of infrastructure within the Forest to help support its massive and ever growing visitation. The major bathroom project will be at Hooker Falls. This should alleviate the need for visitors to relieve themselves amongst the trees and shrubs along the trail.

Now, let the construction begin!