Two new parks will be built in the High Country thanks to the latest state budget. The Blue Ridge Conservancy is getting more than a million dollars to move forward with the projects.
The new state budget provides more funding for the North Carolina Land and Water Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. There are also two separate allocations for the Boone Gorge Park in Watauga County and Paddy Mountain Park in Ashe County.
A bulk of the money will be used for Boone Gorge Park. It's the next phase in a major project known as the Middle Fork Greenway. So far, two miles of the Greenway have been completed and it will eventually connect Blowing Rock to Boone.
Charlie Brady with the Blue Ridge Conservancy says this stand-alone park will play an important role in the community.
"It will have a paved hiking path along the perimeter of a large bottom area that was agriculture in that region," says Brady. "It will also provide public access for trout fishermen in that section of the Middle Fork of the New [River], so we are excited to protect that permanently for public access.”
Brady says he hopes to secure more local funding for both parks. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to begin next year on the Ashe County development and in 2024 for the one in Watauga County.
Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news