A state park promoting the Black River and its centuries-old trees would be a tremendous boon for Sampson and other counties whose banks touch its water.
Already passed 110 to 1 in the House, a bill will now come before the Senate calling for the construction of Black River State Park in Sampson, Bladen and Pender counties. We urge senators to support this bill, not only because of the benefits it will bring to our area but because of the tremendous tourist draw it would be for the state of North Carolina.
The bill centers around an approximate 2,600 acre tract of land that would become the park, extending some 35 miles, from Sampson, at Ivanhoe, to Pender and Bladen, offering tourists an opportunity to see the over 1,600-year-0ld bald cypresses that are scattered in the river, a beautiful wonder we believe everyone should have the opportunity to see.
The Sampson Independent shared photographs of those cypresses some 20 years ago when a reporter, escorted by a NC Wildlife Officer, took a boat tour of the river just to see the trees, reportedly the 10th oldest in the world. The photographs drew tremendous interest and frequent visits to the river back then. Imagine the draw now, if a park were built and promotion became a state or even nationwide occurrence?
We’ve no doubt the historic trees would be a tremendous draw, particularly to the large group of outdoor recreation enthusiasts who, the Nature Conservancy of North Carolina estimate, drop about $19.2 billion into the state. And, there is, of course, the river itself to enjoy.
The goal, Conservancy officials note, would be to provide boating access on the river, which would provide a view of the historic trees. Imagine if you will, the kayakers and canoeists who would flock to our area just to get on the water and find their way to those beautiful and very historic cypresses.
We love state parks and what they mean in terms of protecting our environment, showing off a natural piece of history and preserving our land. To have one in Sampson’s midst would be exciting and an added attraction that can only benefit our county and its residents.
Development of such a state park will likely take time. Conservancy officials estimate two or three years, and that’s once it’s passed by the General Assembly and funds are in place.
That means the clock is ticking.
We hope senators recognize the significance of having such a park and move quickly to get this one passed so work can begin.
A Black River State Park is a win-win for everyone in the state of North Carolina and beyond. We see no reason it won’t get a thumbs up.