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Friends of DuPont Forest was awarded a total of $99,000 in grants from the Tourism Development Authorities in Henderson and Transylvania counties. The money will be used to plan for a sustainable future of DuPont State Recreational Forest by helping fund a Master Recreation Plan.

When DuPont State Recreational Forest opened to the public in 1995, it included a system of trails, roads, and facilities that were not designed for the level of visitation it experiences today.  A Master Recreation Plan is needed to assess the current conditions for safety and sustainability and provide the agency with guidance for future recreation management.

“We believe the best way to protect the Forest is to plan for its future, and that is why we have long advocated for a Master Recreation Plan,” says Sara Landry, Executive Director of Friends of DuPont Forest. “We are incredibly excited to have both counties so invested in our public lands. More than 1 million people from all over the country visit DuPont Forest every year. It is a huge economic driver in both counties, and we are thankful to the Henderson County TDA and the Transylvania County TDA for making such a meaningful investment.”

The grants will supplement the $750,000 allocated to the North Carolina Forest Service by the General Assembly in late 2021. That legislation included $200,000 for the development of a Master Recreation Plan that balances the needs of the Forest and the 1.3 million visitors who come to view waterfalls, ride horses or bikes, hike or run, hunt, and fish. The General Assembly allocated an additional $550,000 for implementing the plan once it has been developed.

“The Henderson County TDA is pleased to be able to support one of the most-beloved natural attractions and assets in our area,” says Michelle Owens, Executive Director Henderson County Tourism Development Authority.

“Sustainability is vital to the long-term success of our destination,” shares Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Clark Lovelace. “The TCTDA believes that a key role for our organization is to provide funding and other support to projects and initiatives that ensure that the experiences that make our area so special are here for future generations.  DuPont State Recreational Forest is an incredible place. We believe that this plan will provide DuPont’s leaders with the information they need to keep it that way.”

The North Carolina Forest Service has hired Mattern & Craig, who will collaborate with IBI Consulting, C2 Recreation Consultants, and Terra Incognito Trail Consultants, to develop a Master Recreation Plan that will recommend how to balance the current and future needs of the Forest and all of its diverse visitors. Moreover, the company will use research, public involvement, and direct observation to inform the recommendations that it puts forth. Master Recreation Plans typically make recommendations for future trail system management and other measures aimed at protecting forest resources and natural communities and improving the experience of current and future visitors.