Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More good news for Chimney Rock Park

The Charlotte Observer's Bruce Henderson reports that a $3.5 million grant and private fundraising will "help protect a landmark mountain in Rutherford County that will likely become part of Chimney Rock State Park."

The state paid $24 million, including a private donation, for the 996-acre Chimney Rock Park tourist attraction in January 2007. The new state park now covers 4,005 acres, largely because of acquisitions by the Nature Conservancy and local land trusts, which have worked for two decades to protect the Hickory Nut Gorge.

The nonprofit group said Tuesday it will buy 357 acres on the flank of Rumbling Bald Mountain, on the gorge's north side and one of its most important undeveloped tracts. The money will come from the state Clean Water Management Trust Fund and a $3.25 million campaign by the conservancy. ...

Rumbling Bald, distinctive for its series of three mounds and high rock cliffs, rises to about 2,800 feet. Oak and hickory forest covers much of the tract, which harbors rare spiders, salamanders and wood rats. Ravens nest in the cliffs and bats hibernate in large fissure caves.

Money to develop a master plan for the new Chimney Rock State Park has been approved, and public meetings will likely be held early next year. When complete, said deputy state parks director Don Reuter, the park “will be a crown jewel in our system.”

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