The Mayo River State Park in Rockingham County is about to get bigger. The Piedmont Land Conservancy has acquired more than 60 acres of forestland near the Virginia state line.

State and local officials have been working to help preserve habitat and improve recreation in the area. The Mayo is one of the largest tributaries to the Dan River, but access hasn't always been easy for visitors.

Duke Energy recently donated more than $360,000 to the environmental group to help buy a key chunk of property on the river's banks. It's part of the company's restoration activities in response to the Dan River coal ash spill in 2014.

Kevin Redding, the Conservancy's executive director, says the property will allow the state to install boat launches and other access points.

“For many years, the public has used this property illegally and accessed the river across it,” says Redding. “And now, we will be able to work with the state park when they own it. They will keep it clean, they will have order to it, manage it — a much safer environment.”

Redding says with the new addition, Mayo River State Park will soon total 2,500 acres. 

The Conservancy will officially transfer the property to the State of North Carolina by early next week.     

Across the border, there are also efforts underway in Virginia to accumulate land for a Mayo River State Park. Redding says the hope is that in the future, both states will work together to create a 20- to 25-mile stretch of interstate park that will help protect the waterway and open it up for even more recreation.

*You can follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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