Following the acquisition of 2,744 acres of land in the Black Mountains, the Mount Mitchell State Park will effectively double in size.The acquisition was made possible by contributions from Salisbury couple Fred and Alice Stanback and The Conservation Fund, along with N.C.’s Clean Water Management and N.C. Parks and Recreation trust funds. The announcement for the expansion was made Friday during the 100-year celebration of the state park. “What a magnificent birthday gift to Mount Mitchell and the state parks system,” said Susan Kluttz, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Mount Mitchell was our first state park and this gift will more than double its size. The generosity and graciousness of the Stanbacks and other private donors and citizens for this project are an example of why North Carolina is so special.”The Mount Mitchell State Park expansion includes the acquisition of 783 acres in the Laurel Branch area and 1,961 acres in the Cattail Peak area. According to a release from the governor’s office, The Conservation Fund will pay $8.6 million for the two tracts and will resell them to the state for $3.2 million. “Protecting our natural resources in North Carolina requires a partnership of government and the private sector,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “This acquisition for Mount Mitchell State Park, aided by the Stanback family, The Conservation Fund and the state’s conservation trust funds, is a prime example.”The Laurel Branch area was mostly funded via a gift from the Stanbacks and is valued at $3 million. $130,000 was provided by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The Cattail Peak area, appraised at $7.5 million, had half of its funding provided by the Stanbacks but is not completely funded at this time. The CWMTF supplied $1.2 million while the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund has reportedly set aside $728,000 in funding toward its purchase. A grant from CWMTF is still pending to supply the remaining funds to close the acquisition.
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