The Umstead Coalition 
Celebrating Umstead State Park since 1934!

Umstead Coalition opposes RDU Fence and Recommends Community Solutions

05/06/2021 12:38 PM | Jean Spooner (Administrator)

NC Department of Environmental Quality-Division of Water Resources (DEQ-DWR) approved the Neuse River Buffer Authorization Application submitted by the RDUAA staff in October, 2020.  The Odd Fellows Tract is not included, and some restrictions were added, but it's still a tragedy if moved forward by the RDUAA Board.  Note: this application was entirely on staff initiative - not initiated, nor approved (yet) by the RDUAA Board. 

Download DEQ Approval letter, May 4, 2021

Download NC State Park's letter asking for denial of Application, January 25, 2021

Statement by Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition, dated May 5, 2021:

The proposal by RDUAA staff to deforest a wide swath and install a chain-link fence topped with 3 rows of barbed wire (similar specifications used for high voltage power sub-stations and correctional facilities) along the environmentally sensitive boundary of William B. Umstead State Park and the East Coast Greenway along Old Reedy Creek Road is an embarrassment and insult to our community and William B Umstead State Park. And, would result in grave environmental damage to our State Park.

DEQ-DWR should have followed the Neuse Buffer Rules (the law) and denied this authorization request to destroy and harm our streams and wetlands flowing into William B. Umstead State Park.  The Neuse Buffer Rules require that RDUAA must first AVOID stream and wetland impacts to the maximum extent possible, and then minimize any unavoidable impacts, as well as provide sufficient Best Management Practices to protect our streams and tributaries. Viable alternatives exist - NC State Parks opposed this fence and offered alternatives. In addition, absolutely, no stream crossing protections are proposed to protect the streams and wetlands: no bridges,  no culverts, nothing.

To add to this insult, RDUAA fence proposal plans to sever one of the most popular trails in the Region and the East Coast Greenway by putting the fence across Umstead State Park's Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail.  This trail is popular with commuters and recreational users and serves as a regional connection to Cary's Black Creek Greenway, Morrisville's Crabtree Creek Greenway, Raleigh's Reedy Creek/House Creek Greenways, the American Tobacco Trail, and the planned Triangle Bikeway along I-40.  Reedy Creek multi-use trail is built upon the historic road beds and has been a State Park trail since 1934 in the same location.  Shameful.

The proposed fence is an unnecessary boondoggle and mis-use of RDUAA funds. There is already a security fence perimeter that protects the runways, terminals, and parking areas.   Furthermore, it has not been initiated, nor approved by the RDUAA Board. 

In contrast, the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) has and promotes a publicly accessible bike trail along its airport perimeter (BWI Trail) which provides a community recreational asset, a transportation connection to the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail and the airport, and provides parking revenues for the airport.  That is the type of community and partnering relationship that RDUAA should engage with the community and its four owning governments of the Counties of Wake and Durham and the Cities of Raleigh and Durham.

RDUAA should strive to find collaborative opportunities with its owners, NC State Parks, and the community. This is sadly the opposite.  We request that the RDUAA Board put an end to this extreme blow to the airport's community relations.

Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition

The Umstead Coalition

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


The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.