East Coast Greenway poised for North Carolina State Parks designation

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Virginia & North Carolina Manager Sarah Sanford outside the North Carolina Legislative Building.

RALEIGH, N.C. - With Monday night’s unanimous passage of House Bill 130 in the North Carolina Senate, the East Coast Greenway is poised to be designated as a unit of the North Carolina State Parks system and an official North Carolina State Trail. 

Following this designation, the East Coast Greenway will be eligible for a variety of funding mechanisms and other forms of support for trail planning and construction in North Carolina.

“This recognition by the North Carolina State Parks system is a tremendous step for the East Coast Greenway in the state,” says East Coast Greenway Virginia & North Carolina Manager Sarah Sanford. “I’d like to thank the lead sponsor of House Bill 130, Rep. Donna White, along with our other sponsors, Reps. Pat McElraft and Larry Strickland, as well as the many bipartisan co-sponsors in the House. 

“On the Senate side, thank you to Sens. Mike Woodard, Lisa Barnes and Natalie Murdock, who sponsored a companion bill and helped the House bill through the Senate. A special thank you goes to Rep. Julie von Haefen for helping me learn the legislative process and make this bill a reality. The development of this bill would not have been possible without the help of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and State Parks staff, especially Deans Eatman. We also received incredibly helpful assistance from Will Morgan and the Land for Tomorrow coalition. Finally, thank you to all of the East Coast Greenway supporters across the state!”

In North Carolina, the East Coast Greenway route is highlighted by a 75-mile stretch of greenway from North Durham through Cary, Raleigh and to Clayton to form the longest continuous stretch of the East Coast Greenway in a metropolitan area. 

Within the state, the Greenway features a 365-mile spine route and a 425-mile complementary coastal route. The spine route passes through the Triangle, then touches the sandhills before entering Fayetteville. From there, it runs along the coastal plain, following the Cape Fear River to Wilmington. 

The coastal route extends south from Virginia and follows close to the North Carolina coast, linking Greenville and Jacksonville, before continuing south into Wilmington to rejoin the spine route.

The East Coast Greenway spine route is nearly 30 percent complete in North Carolina. 

“These future funding opportunities from the state could go a long way toward closing key gaps and, ultimately, completing the Greenway in North Carolina,” Sanford says. 

North Carolina State Parks encompass an incredibly diverse landscape, stretching from “the highest sand dune on the East Coast at Jockey's Ridge to Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the eastern U.S.”

The East Coast Greenway becomes North Carolina’s 10th State Trail, joining the likes of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which travels “1,175 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.” Among North Carolina State Trails, only the East Coast Greenway and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail cover central and coastal North Carolina with the East Coast Greenway being the first to run north-south through eastern North Carolina. 

This East Coast Greenway designation also furthers the development of the Great Trails State Plan, a North Carolina Department of Transportation effort “to identify a network of shared-use paths and trails that connec​​​ts every county in North Carolina, with a focus on connections between population centers and North Carolina State Parks.”

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