The newly signed North Carolina state budget includes funding for several Blue Ridge Conservancy projects as part of the $300 million allocation for conservation and outdoor recreation. The bipartisan budget, signed into law by Gov. Cooper on November 18, includes $500,000 for the Middle Fork Greenway and $150,000 for the Watauga River Paddle Trail. Also in the budget is $50,000 for a Natural Heritage Program study of the Northern Peaks Trail corridor, which will help map the trail with minimal impact on rare plants and animals.
“The bipartisan support for historic increases in funding the North Carolina Land and Water Fund and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is an affirmation of why BRC’s work is critically important, especially now,” says BRC Executive Director Charlie Brady. “The L&WF will receive $100 million additional nonrecurring funds over the biennium and PARTF will receive $91 million. These increases will enable BRC to pursue more projects in the region than ever before. We are grateful to local legislators, Senator Deanna Ballard and Representative Ray Pickett, for their efforts to fund three important local public access projects.”
Middle Fork Greenway Director Wendy Patoprsty says: “This state funding will help acquire land in the Middle Fork Greenway corridor – every tract purchased is additional protected land for future generations to access green space, parks, and the Middle Fork of the New River between our two communities as they grow in population.”
State Budget Highlights for conservation and resilience:
Land and Water Fund
- $49.5 million in additional nonrecurring funds for FY21-22. Brings the total to $62.7 million for traditional projects (see additional $15 million in the 3rd bullet below).
- $51.5 million in additional nonrecurring funds for FY22-23. Brings the total to $64.7 million.
- $15 million in nonrecurring funds in FY21-22 for floodplain projects. This brings the total for all NCLWF projects in FY21-22 to $77.7 million.
Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
- $45.5 million in additional nonrecurring funds for FY21-22. Brings the total to $61.7 million.
- $45.5 million in additional nonrecurring funds for FY22-23. Brings the total to $61.7 million.
- $29.25 million in nonrecurring funds in FY21-22 for Complete the Trails (CTF) fund.
- Creates a new Trail Coordinator position, and provides $95,018 in recurring funds to pay for the new position.
Parks for Persons with Disabilities
- Provides $10 million in nonrecurring funds to local governments for parks for persons with disabilities.
Farmland Preservation Trust Fund
- $670,000 in new recurring funds and $8 million in additional nonrecurring funds in each year of the biennium. That brings the new recurring total to $4.97 million per year, and the total funding for both FY21-22 and FY22-23 to $12,970,000
- $12.2 million for Pisgah View State Park ($9 million in FY21-22 and $3.2 million in FY22-23)
- $4 million for Vade Mecum at Hanging Rock State Park
- $550,000 for Mayo River State Park land purchase
- $150,000 to Blue Ridge Conservancy for the Watauga Paddle Trail
- $500,000 to Blue Ridge Conservancy for Middle Fork Greenway
- $50,000 for Northern Peaks Trail
- $4 million for Pilot Mountain Bean Shoals Trail
- $3.1 million for Rendezvous Mountain Park, which will be a satellite annex of Stone Mountain SP
- $3 million for the Wilderness Gateway State Trail
New State Park Units
- The budget authorizes two new State Park units, the Roanoke River Paddle Trail and Bakers Lake State Natural Area. It also transfers a portion of Rendezvous Mountain from the Department of Agriculture to DNCR.
- As noted above the resilience package contains $15 million for the Land and Water Fund. In addition it includes:
- $20 million to the Division of Mitigation Services within DEQ for the creation of a “statewide Flood Resiliency Blueprint”
- $15 million for a Disaster Relief and Mitigation Fund at DPS
- $15 million for a Transportation Infrastructure Resilience Fund at DPS
- $25 million to Golden Leaf for a Small Project Mitigation and Recovery Program
- $40 million for a Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund at DEQ
- $4 million for a Dam Safety Emergency Fund at DEQ
- $3.5 million to DEQ for specific DMS pilot projects
- $1.15 million to DEQ’s Division of Coastal Management for the Resilient Coastal Communities Program
- $300,000 to DEQ’s Division of Coastal Management for 2 time limited, full time positions to staff the Resilient Coastal Communities Program
- $38 million for DACS for a new Streamflow Rehabilitation Program
Parks Operating Funds
- Fully funds the operating requirements for State Parks that have been recently expanded or improved. $2.1 million recurring and $877,000 nonrecurring in FY21-22, and increased to $3.5 million recurring in FY22-23.
State Parks Water and Sewer Projects
- $40 million for water and sewer projects in State Parks