Historic Dollars for Conservation, Outdoor Recreation in NC State Budget
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina communities will soon receive funding to preserve green spaces, maintain parks and boost resiliency against the impacts of climate change, the result of hundreds of millions of dollars allocated for conservation and outdoor recreation in the new state budget.
Charlie Brady, executive director of the Blue Ridge Conservancy, pointed out next year, many of the state's rural areas which have traditionally not received public funding, will have access to new resources.
"It will have a huge impact," Brady stated. "Particularly with that much more money than we've had since roughly 2008."
Communities will share $15 million for local floodplain projects to help buffer themselves from more frequent and heavy floods due to climate change. Outdoor recreation contributes around $28 billion a year to the state's economy and supports an estimated 260,000 jobs.
The budget also includes nearly $30 million dollars to aid the North Carolina Trails Program in building, planning and maintaining a dozen state trails, including the new Roanoke River Paddle Trail.
Brady said he believes the pandemic has prompted state lawmakers to pay attention to people's need to get outdoors, as a way to maintain social distancing and stay healthy.
"And this is going to go a long way to support the state trails that have been established by the Legislature in North Carolina," Brady added.
State parks received nearly 20 million visitors in 2020, despite being closed for six weeks when the pandemic began. Brady noted the funding will also help conservation groups acquire and preserve more land; an effort which has been on the decline, despite a spike in demand for parks and natural spaces.
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