The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization comprised of individual members and 16 partner conservation organizations. The Umstead Coalition's mission is to preserve the natural integrity of William B. Umstead State Park and the Richland Creek Corridor.
The Umstead Coalition is active in service projects, Park land acquisition environmental education activities, trail maintenance, restoration of the 120 historic cabins and mess halls (recently accomplished with over 7,000 volunteer hours) and preserving the cultural history of the rural community that once lived in the lands that became William B. Umstead State Park.
Since Margaret Nygard founded the Umstead Coalition in 1968, the Umstead Coalition has repeatedly risen to protect William B. Umstead State Park from threats such as quarries, a proposal to sell the Park, a dry-dam flood control structure on Turkey Creek, RDU airport runways that would have taken Park lands and a plan to build a major highway that would have taken Park and disrupted the Richland Creek Corridor.
Please consider becoming a member of the Umstead Coalition as a volunteer, sponsor or advocate and help us protect this regional asset. Funds donated to the Umstead Coalition are used exclusively to help William B. Umstead State Park. The Umstead Coalition serves as the conduit to donate funds to help the Park. Donations are tax deductible.
The Umstead Coalition Board is comprised of 11 people who meet monthly. The Chair of the Umstead Coalition is Dr. Jean Spooner.
Umstead Coalition Chair, Dr. Jean Spooner
Dr. Jean Spooner, Extension Professor retired from N.C. State University with 34 years of service. Dr. Spooner joined N.C. State as an Extension Specialist in 1984 as a member of the Water Quality Group. Her specialties are soil science, statistical analysis, and non-point source water quality. Spooner received a B.S. in Agronomy from Cornell University, a M.S. in Soil Science from NCSU, M.S. in Applied Statistics from Utah State, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from NCSU. She served from 1991 until her retirement as Group Leader of the NCSU Water Quality Group (WQG). She became Director of the Soil & Water Environmental Technology Center (SWETC) in 2002.
Dr. Spooner’s unique specialty included experimental design and subsequent statistical analyses to demonstrate statistically significant improvements in water quality associated with nonpoint source (NPS) control programs. She has provided this expertise to state nonpoint source control programs and water quality projects nationwide.
Dr. Spooner has co-authored 34 refereed journal articles and 23 extension factsheets or online curriculum software; served on 10 graduate committees; and provided leadership for 147 grants totaling over $25 million. She has developed short courses for USEPA and been an Invited Keynote Speaker at 6 National and 2 International Conferences.
She has received several state and national level awards, among them the Hugh Hammond Bennett Merit Award, an ASABE Educational Aids Blue Ribbon, and the Kenneth R. Keller Research Award for Excellence in Doctoral Dissertation Research. She is a member of numerous Professional and Honorary Societies. Dr. Spooner has always been a team player and leader, and the strong advocate for her team and employees under her. She encouraged and facilitated multidisciplinary relationships as evidenced by WQG collaborations across many disciplines.
On March 3, 2015, Dr. Jean Spooner was presented with the "Locke Craig Award" by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation for her dedication and service to William B. Umstead State Park. She accepted with a message of gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who have supported William B. Umstead State Park.
Learn more about many of our projects and events to support Umstead State Park below.
Our park was established as a National Park in 1934 and began construction in 1935. We held a series of special events to celebrate the people that once lived in the Park and our 80 years as a public treasure.
With the help of $45,000 in grants from REI, donations to The Umstead Coalition and over 7,000 volunteer hours, 106 of the historic cabins and mess halls located in the four group camps at Umstead State Park have been preserved. These buildings were built in the 1930’s an 1940’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA). The siding repair and a new roof for the mess hall at Sycamore Group Camp is happening this fall. We’ll next work on cleaning of the interior of the Mess Hall so it can be used. As a result of these continuing efforts these historic structures can be used for outdoor recreation for generations to come.
We're installing 50 parking pads within the Sycamore Group camp and improving a trail access directly to Sycamore Lake at a recently restored fishing dock. With the restoration of Sycamore Mess Hall and adjacent lodge/cabins and the new parking pads, we are working towards opening the Sycamore Mess Hall area for Special Day Uses. We are proud to be working towards once again opening this valuable Park resource that the Umstead Coalition saved from demolition some years ago.
See our website and face book page for why we feel this book should be in your life also. It is available at local book stores and the Umstead Park Visitor Center. Written by Tom Weber it contains many oral histories from people who lived in what is now Umstead State Park, as well as mapped hikes to the historic sites. There are over 400 photos and illustrations.
We are currently working on a full-color hiking guide for the 4 walks featured in “Stories In Stone.” With this project, all the sites will have GPS coordinates and photos of what the sites look like today when you visit (as well as photos of what the sites looked like in the early 1900’s when available).
We are currently working with Park staff on a trail reroute for Loblolly Trail and a much needed new replacement bridge over Reedy Creek. We are also working with the Park to request funds to assist improving the steep sections of the multi-use trail to enable better drainage and maintenance. And, we continue to assist with maintenance of the pedestrian trails.
Photo credit: Clarence Simpson, 2018 Umstead Photo Contest
The Umstead Coalition continues its effort to control invasive plants, especially Japanese Stilt Grass (microstegium vimineum), in the Park.
The Umstead Coalition recognizes the desire for Park users to access the Park at locations close to their neighborhoods. We are working with local and state agencies to ensure safer neighborhood accesses, as well as helping to evaluate parking options. We are working with local governments to assist with greenway trail access to the Park. There is much more to be done and The Umstead Coalition is actively working with numerous partners to improve the safety of neighborhood access and parking options.
Our annual Walk/Run/Bike for Umstead took place in April. Participants in the Walk/Run/Bike included runners, walkers, babies in strollers, and pets on leashes. They were serenaded along the route by musical troubadours and greeted at the finish with great snacks and acoustic music from the stage. Funds raised are used for the benefit of William B. Umstead State Park.
There are constant threats to the wellbeing of the Park and there are rules that protect the Park. The Umstead Coalition serves as a watchdog to ensure the rules are followed. We work to ensure that protections outlined in Raleigh’s Metro Park Protection Overlay District are enforced. These protections include: an undisturbed tree buffer (no cutting or grading) along the Park Boundary, undisturbed tree buffer maintained along all drainage ways that flow to the Park and drain 5 acres or more. We worked with the Raleigh City Council and staff to continue these protections under their new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO, or zoning code).
Our volunteers pick up trash, monitor the health of Richland Creek, and maintain Park trails. We maintain a photo log of the condition of Richland Creek and report problems to the City of Raleigh Adopt-A-Stream and State of North Carolina Stream Watch programs.
The money the Umstead Coalition brings to the Park is the only way that people can directly donate funds to help William B. Umstead State Park. The Umstead Coalition serves as the conduit to help William B. Umstead State Park. Donations to The Umstead Coalition are tax deductible. Also, if your employer has a matching donation program – please participate. We appreciate those extra gifts! Thanks for supporting William B. Umstead State Park!