Helping state’s parks another reason to pass Connect NC

There are a plethora of reasons for Sampson County residents to vote in the March 15 primary, many of which we will address in a series of editorials that will run over the next two weeks.

Among them is the $2 billion Connect NC bond that, if passed, will benefit the state in myriad ways, with much needed investments made in education, parks, safety, recreation, and water and sewer infrastructure.

We encourage voters to mark ballots in favor of this all-important bond, one that won’t raise your taxes but will, locally and across the state, make a tremendous dent in some growing needs.

We’ve already stressed the importance of this bond’s passage to Sampson Community College, which would see money that can be used for new construction, repairs and/or renovations. No matter how the money is spent, it is greatly needed at our local campus as well as across the state at the 51 other community college campuses.

Another very important reason to support the bond is the $75 million that will be used to build new facilities in state parks, new hiking trails and campgrounds and provide funding to support environmental education.

One of those trails, The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, has an impact in Sampson as well as many counties throughout the state. The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, a 1,000-mile trail that will connect Clingman’s Dome to the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, is considered North Carolina’s State Trail. Right now, it is only two-thirds complete, but bond approval would provide needed funds to complete the trail.

A breakdown of how the bond money will be spent throughout the parks includes:

• $20.9 million for new/improved visitor centers and community buildings in 11 parks

• $18.8 million for new/expanded campgrounds and cabins in 12 parks

• $21.3 million for park-wide improvements in 12 parks

• $14.1 million for land acquisition/expansion in 10 parks

In addition, the NC Zoo will receive a $25 million investment from the Connect NC Bond, funds that will serve to increase the viewer experience and education by including safari rides through the park and glass-bottom gondolas that would offer new and more interactive ways to view the animals.

Putting needed funds into our state parks and zoo is money well spent, if for no other reason than the fact that many of North Carolina’s tourists come are drawn here by the very things we have mentioned.

If we are to be good stewards — and we contend we must be — of the beautiful land, trails, rivers, campgrounds and visitor centers that are part of our parks system, then we must maintain them. And that costs money. It is our responsibility as citizens of this great state and a very valid reason to support passage of Connect NC.

While the bond’s passage isn’t a panacea, it will go a long way to address some long neglected needs in areas of education, agriculture, safety, parks, recreation and water and sewer infrastructure.

With no tax money needed, voting for this bond seems a no-brainer.