New state park proposed for Sampson County’s Black River

By Chase Jordan -

A traveler spends time at the Black River which flows through Sampson County.

State legislators recently approved the creation for a state park on the Black River which will allow visitors to see some of the oldest trees in the world.

The North Carolina House approved a bill to build the Black River State Park in Sampson, Bladen and Pender Counties. The bill, which passed with a 110-1 vote, would consist of about 2,600 acres of land.

According to The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina, the bald cypresses are more than 1,600 years old. This makes the wonders the 10th oldest in the world. It’s the reason, the organization worked to protect more than 16,000 acres of land in the Black River basin. Legislators feel that it’s important to protect the area as well.

Debbie Crane, director of communications for the Conservancy, said it has a lot of potential to benefit Sampson County, especially the Ivanhoe area, when it comes to tourism.

“It would be nice to have a state park because it has some ancient trees,” Crane said.

Tourism is a big attraction in North Carolina. Outdoor recreation collect about $19.2 billion in consumer spending, 192,000 jobs and $5.6 billion in wages and salaries. More than $1.3 billion in state and local income tax revenue is also generated.

“A lot of local stores will benefit,” Crane said.

If finalized, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation will build the park after acquiring the land from the Conservancy. According to the Conservancy, the park will be situated on the banks of the river, similar to the Lumber River State Park. The goal is to provide boating access on the river, which will provide a view of the historic trees

In the 1980s, Professor David Stahle of the University of Arkansas studied the trees and used equipment to measure the age. The oldest rings date back to 364 A.D. Researchers believe there’s trees much older in the forest.

Crane said it may take about two or three years for Black River State Park to develop. In addition, the bill also proposes three other state parks: Bob’s Pocket State Natural Area in McDowell County, offering scenic beauty, outdoor recreation; Warwick Mill Bay in Robeson County, a breeding habitat for different species of waterbirds; and Salmon Creek State Natural Area in Bertie County, which covers the Native American occupation site, which contains prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, include a Native American occupation site.

According to the bill, the state may receive donations of appropriate land and may purchase other needed areas for the parks. with existing funds in the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the federal Land and Water Trust Fund and other sources of funding.

Representatives of The Nature Conservancy and the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation will hold an information session 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, at 18933 Hwy. 210 East, Ivanhoe.

A traveler spends time at the Black River which flows through Sampson County. traveler spends time at the Black River which flows through Sampson County.

By Chase Jordan

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