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Request to Protect William B. Umstead State Park and not build unnecessary fence

01/08/2020 8:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

January 8, 2020: Memorandum sent to NC Division of Parks and Recreation and Park Superintendent for William B. Umstead State Park

From: Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition

Reference: Request to PROTECT William B. Umstead State Park and not build unnecessary fence

The proposed fence project (RDU Project No. 211140) has profound detrimental impacts on one of our most visited Parks in NC. As such, sufficient time for two-way communications and discussions of alternatives and solutions should be requested.

Under RDUAA’s proposal, visitors to the park will be greeted with 8' tall chain link fence topped by 3-rows of barbed wire on both sides of the East Coast Greenway as they approach William B. Umstead State Park from Lake Crabtree County Park. And if the fence alone wasn't bad enough, RDU plans to clear cut a 30' wide path through the forest (15' to either side of the fence) for 8.3 miles, much of this along the border of William B. Umstead State Park. This will totally destroy the natural beauty of the Western approach to Umstead State Park. And, sever a vital wildlife corridor along Crabtree Creek and Haley’s Branch. And, cause significant water quality issues.

Adding to the public insult, RDUAA’s RFP shows the proposed fence severing our most popular trail within William B. Umstead State Park, the Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail. (Bid Sheet C27 of RDUAA RFP).

We object to this offensive fence and deforestation along much of our Park border. (see the attached Google Earth map that illustrates the vast extent of the proposed fence that would directly impact William B. Umstead State Park).

I. Impacts to Water Quality

The majority of the proposed fence has a direct and detrimental impact on William B. Umstead State Park. All the airport lands managed by the RDUAA drain TO William B. Umstead State Park.

The drainage from the airport either flows to Crabtree Creek with flows through the heart of our State Park or directly into the Park. The proposed 8.3 miles of 30 feet deforested clearing crosses numerous streams and wetlands. Deforestation of our streams and wetlands should be avoided.

By “Bid Quantities” provide in the RDUAA RFP for the proposed 8.3 miles of fencing (attached), the following water resources would be affected with a deforested 30’ wide- swath and security fence:

  • 240 linear feet wetland (we presume includes Foxcroft lake on the Odd Fellows tract)
  • 19 small stream crossings
  • 4 large stream crossings

II. The Historic Multi-use William B. Umstead State Park Reedy Creek Trail Should NOT be Severed or Moved

In addition, the proposed fence and 30’ width deforested swath would be cut along over 1 mile (yes, over 1 mile) through the STEEP forested slopes of Crabtree Creek, with minimal little riparian buffer for such terrain. (see Bid Spec Sheets C41, C42C43, C44, C45, C46, and C47). This stretch of Crabtree Creek is immediately upstream of William B. Umstead State Park and within the Odd Fellows Tract.

William B. Umstead State Park should NOT move its historic Reedy Creek Park Trail. The Park trail location was well established in 1934 and has been used and maintained (by Umstead State Park staff) in the SAME location as a State Park multi-use trail continuously for the last 85 years. All the multi-use trails in the Park were built upon the historic road beds. Before it was our Reedy Creek Multi-use Park Trail, it was the Old Middle Hillsboro and Reedy Creeks in the SAME location for 200 years prior. The Old Middle Hillsboro Road was the road to Durham and Hillsborough. See below the 1914 Soil Survey below (with today’s land use faded underneath) to document the historic roads.

It is the AIRPORT that encroached upon Umstead State Park (not the other way around as claimed by RDUAA staff). ALL of our Umstead State Park Trail (Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail) was INSIDE Umstead State Park from the Park's inception in 1934 until 1958. Our multi-use Park trail was built upon the historic road bed of Old Middle Hillsboro and Reedy Creek Roads. The location of the Park trail has NOT changed. In fact, it would be very expensive to do such.

What did change was a forced exchange of land in 1958 to allow for a safety zone for a runway (currently the short General Aviation runway) built too close to the Park by the US Government for WWII. A small portion of our Park land was forced to be traded with the airport in 1958 to provide for a safety zone for the WWII runway (see Wake County Commissioners minutes, Deeds Book/Page 1357/548 and 1358/590). That WWII runway is the General Aviation runway today.

When that forced land exchange occurred, the surveyors used the existing survey pin on the inside bend of the trail/road as the corner. The Park continued to use this major multi-use trail with collaboration from RDUAA. All of the Park maps clearly show the 1958 revised Park boundary with the historic trail location on airport managed property - there has been nothing hidden, or changed on the part of NC State Parks.

The Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail is maintained by NC State Parks. In addition, it has undergone two recent major renovations/investments. In 1989, the Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail received a major trail renovation project with the assistance of NCDOT, primarily due to the need for access to tornado-damaged areas. The improvements included grading, ditching, crowning, and graveling the trail to its former width (when it was a public road). And, in the mid-1990’s a major trail renovation project was undertaken by NC State Parks to improve the base and top screenings for horses and bike users. All keeping the SAME location and using the road base and location of the historic public roads. All these major trail renovations were done with coordination with the RDUAA.

III. Impacts to Wildlife Habitat and Historic Park Experience

William B. Umstead State Park, including its forests, is listed under the National Register of Historic Places. Is an 8-foot tall chain link fence with 3 rows of barbed wire along the top in the middle of a 30ft-wide deforested swath the image appropriate to form the border of a large portion of our prized NC State Park? To border our NC State Park with a Security fence spec’ed for power stations or prisons is an insult to our Park visitors.

The proposed fence would sever one of the last remaining connected wildlife corridors in the Triangle region along Crabtree Creek and Umstead State Park. This corridor is home to bald eagles, a protected Great Blue Heron nesting site, bobcat, and more.

See attached Google Earth graphic and figure below with the fence locations (from RFP) overlaid on the map with Park border and Lake Crabtree. Note, the fence would create isolated land islands.

In addition, the proposed fence would isolate Umstead State Park and severely limit (or perhaps prevent) the future of ability of Umstead State Park to provide new trails within Umstead State Park.

IV. Violation of the 250 feet Undisturbed Buffers Promised to the State Park in Existing Rock Quarry permit

The proposed fence outlining the Odd Fellow tract is a violation of Wake Stone’s current mining permit (Mining permit 92-10) and the commitment Wake Stone Corporation made to NC State Parks, DEQ and the Mining Commission when the existing quarry was permitted (after denial by DEQ). The committed buffers in the current mining permit are 250 feet wide and do NOT allow a fence within the buffer zones. The current Mining Permit 92-10 language includes:

“3.C Buffer Zones. All buffer zones shown on the Site Map revised February 26, 2018 shall be maintained to protect adjoining property. These buffer zones, with the exception of the installation of required sediment control measures and approved earthen berms, shall remain undisturbed.”

The proposed fence is an apparent attempt to circumvent this committed quarry buffer requirement. The proposal by RDUAA is to clear-cut the forest with only 10 feet buffer from the State Park boundary and 30 to 50 feet buffer along over 1 mile through the steep slopes of Crabtree Creek. No fence should be allowed on the Odd Fellows tract prior to an approved mining permit, and certainly with no less than committed 250 feet of undisturbed buffer.

Download a PDF of the email here.

The Umstead Coalition

We are dedicated to preserving the natural integrity of William B. Umstead State Park and the Richland Creek Corridor.