DuPont, Friends seek input on management of wildly popular forest

Horse safety and the need for trailer parking, overcrowded hiking trails, the desire for single-track mountain bike trails and more trail etiquette education at DuPont State Recreational Forest are just some of the issues swirling around the much loved, multi-use state forest, which is entering its 20th year.

The 12,000-acre state forest in Henderson and Transylvania counties, about an hour southwest of Asheville, NC, attracted nearly 1 million visitors from across the country and the world in 2019, leading to a quest by management and volunteers to seek input on the forest’s future.

The N.C. Forest Service is looking for public comment with an online survey as part of its in-the-works forest recreation plan, while Friends of DuPont Forest, a nonprofit that provides volunteers for education and trail work and raises funds, has just launched an online survey asking the public what it would like to see from the group.

“Out of the nearly 1 million visitors, 60-65% are estimated to be from out of town and a majority are going to the waterfalls. But our local folks are using the forest on a monthly, weekly basis,” said Sara Landry, Friends of DuPont executive director.

“We’re trying to gauge an idea of what our members would like from us, and a better idea of how people are using the forest.”

“It’s intense out there on the weekend. One of the things we’re campaigning for is a master trails plan. That has morphed into an overall recreational master plan. There’s no way that we thought 20 years ago that DuPont would be as popular as it is today,” she said.

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