The Elk Knob State Park Master plan was released this week for public comment. The plan lays out a solid set of objectives for a campground, visitor center and increased recreational opportunities that will surely benefit all North Carolinians. A significant portion focuses on becoming the anchor for the Northern Peaks Trail.

Sadly, the plan fails to educate the public on the environmental damage a trail like the NPT will cause. For instance, the plan highlights the creation of “viewsheds” for the public, but fails to explain that viewsheds are located on high elevation rock outcrop plant communities that contain many rare plants. This means creating a “viewshed” is a compromise, where we choose to destroy the rare plant community for the sake of a viewing location.

Much of the land associated with the development of the entire NPT were gifts to the state from the Nature Conservancy with the caveat that they are designated as nature preserves. Compromises, like the creation of “viewsheds” are not consistent with the management of nature preserves. If you are like me and love the outdoors, love to hike and explore, care about biodiversity and our state’s natural heritage, then please comment on the master plan before July 10.

Let the state parks know that you want a trail, but that it must be sustainable! Compromises that endanger biodiversity are unacceptable. Our community deserves a sustainable trail that accommodates and prioritizes the needs of biodiversity as well as providing a recreation opportunity.

Matt Estep

Boone

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(1) comment

howells1@bellsouth.net

When you have a beautiful, unique area of which you are a steward, you must take this responsibility seriously. Every effort should be made to protect this unique and beautiful area. I hope that the county and those responsible for designing these trails take into account this fragile environment and protect these ecosystems!

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