The Guilford County Parks and Recreation Department is moving ahead on plans for parks and open space.
Thomas Marshburn, director of parks and open space, is working with area representatives of the N.C. Forest Service to develop and implement a forestry management plan for parks and open space. Professional foresters will work with the county and wildlife biologists to cut down on fire danger, eliminate invasive species, and thin out overgrown areas to make the forests healthier and safer for people and animals.
Bringing in a state agency with expertise and resources is a smart move. Leaving natural areas completely untouched can lead to insect and disease problems, wildfires from deadfalls, excess vegetation and overgrowth of invasive species, which crowd out native plants that provide food for birds and animals. Selective logging and controlled burns will be used to keep the forests healthy.
The forestry plan was approved Sept. 8 by the Parks and Recreation Commission and this past Thursday by the Guilford County Commissioners.
The county commissioners also approved a policy governing sponsorship of events in the parks and open-space preserves. This would allow private companies to sponsor special events and ongoing parks programs, such as swim teams, to help defray the cost to taxpayers. It will also allow advocates of parks and open space to organize fundraisers that benefit projects at individual properties.
The Hedgecock Farm at Rich Fork Creek Preserve Committee is planning just such an event to raise $5,000 in matching funds for a $15,000 grant from the Covington Foundation. That money will be used to stabilize the historic farmhouse and other structures on the property.
The master plan for the Rich Fork Creek Preserve is expected to be ready for review by the Parks and Recreation Commission at its next meeting, Oct. 13.
That plan has been the source of some controversy between the Hedgecock Farm preservation group and the mountain-biking community, which wants to include mountain-bike trails on a portion of the property. Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Bernie Meyers promised the preservation group at its September meeting that its members would have a chance to see that plan before it is considered by the commission.
Members of the commission also want to see plans and proposals earlier. At its last meeting, several commission members asked for more time to review the master plans submitted for Hagan-Stone Park and Company Mill, which they received the day of the meeting.
“Either we’re involved in this process sooner, so we see what’s coming, or give it to us and let us have more time to review it before we vote,” commission member David Craft said. “I just don’t think we’re doing our job if we do this.”
Board members were right to complain. It’s difficult to give any plan due diligence when you have to review it on the spot.
The Rich Fork plan, and all the others that come before the commission, should be sent to its members and released to the public at least 48 hours before the meetings at which plans would be considered.
The joint plan for Hagan Stone Park and the Company Mill Preserve, which are adjacent properties, was approved by the commissioners on Thursday.
The first public hearing on the master plan for Bryan Park North at Guilford County will be held Tuesday. This meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the gym at the Old Monticello school property, 9009 Highway 150 East, Browns Summit.
Roughly 475 acres, Bryan Park North is located just north of Lake Townsend and features trails and pristine farm land. The parks department will share the concept plan with intended projects for the property.
This is your land, folks, so make your voices heard.