By Joe Johnson
The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on the Elk Knob State Park Master Plan currently being developed. When finalized, the master plan will be a 20-year plan that covers the entire state park. Elk Knob State Park began as a state natural area in 2003 and became a state park in 2008; the park encompasses over 4,200 acres spanning Watauga and Ashe counties and is sited within the Amphibolite Mountains, an ecological hotspot of global significance.
A drop-in style open house meeting will be held Dec. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Optimist Park Clubhouse, located at 1012 State Farm Road in Boone. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and can expect to spend 20-30 minutes to review, discuss, and comment on amenities and recreational priorities for the park and provide other feedback.
The meeting on Dec. 17 will not include the final version of the Elk Knob State Park plans, but the review process is nearing its end. “We spent the last year in development of the master plan and there has been a lot of feedback from the community on that,” said Tracy Minton, Superintendent of Elk Knob State Park, “This will be one of the last meetings before the plan is actually revealed next year. The N.C. Parks Department is going to bring you up to speed and show where they are at right now with plans. There will be schematics, so you’ll be able to see what they’re doing, not just hear about it. There will be people from various jobs and positions and state parks who will be there; people from Raleigh and from Elk Knob will be there to answer questions about things that are being discussed. Questions, concerns, anything visitors might be wondering about they can ask about during this meeting.”
The park’s master plan is being developed by E2 Landscape Architecture in Asheville with direction from the division. It will identify recreation and conservation priorities for the park. At a previous public open house, the division invited the public to comment on proposed amenities and is now seeking input on the recreational concepts for the park.
“What I would be willing to say about the plan is that there will be many recreational opportunities such as additional hiking trails including section of Northern Peaks State Trail, more facility development, more opportunities to picnic, for example, a picnic shelter, a formal visitor’s center, and additional camping space,” said Minton, “Those are some of the things that will likely be discussed at the meeting, but nothing has been finalized.”
If you are interested in getting a firsthand look at the proposed master plans for the future development of Elk Knob State Park or you have questions or concerns about the state park you would like to discuss with park officials, attend the meeting at Optimist Park Club on Tuesday, December 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
If inclement weather causes a change in the meeting date or venue, a notice will be posted on the Elk Knob State Park webpage at ncparks.gov/elk-knob-state-park.