Thursday, August 4, 2011

DuPont Falls ... Good News


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  (Margaret Mead)
DuPont State Forest (North Carolina,)  located between Hendersonville and Brevard, is 10,400 acres of beautiful hardwood forest and numerous spectacular waterfalls, open to the public because a few concerned people made it happen.

On Tuesday I visited High Falls and Triple Falls with one of those folks responsible for keeping this treasure public.
Before it was a state forest, most of the land belonged to DuPont Industries which had a huge plant there. During this time, DuPont maintained the forest as a recreational site for its employees and people in the area. 
 



But by 2002, the plant was closed. A developer bought a large tract of the land, including the falls, planning to turn these natural wonders into selling points for a gated community.
Local residents who had all their lives enjoyed access to the pristine beauty of the falls were told that that the forest would no longer be open to the public.  Nineteen of those residents decided to fight against this and formed The Friends of the Falls.

My friend Aleen Steinberg was one of this intrepid group. (Aleen is also one of the driving forces behind Muddy Sneakers -- the nature education program I blogged about HERE.)
Aleen and the Friends of the Falls staged a homegrown PR campaign, targeting civic groups, Scouts, hunters and fishermen, nature lovers, the Audubon Society, anyone who might have an interest in keeping the falls open to the public.  They sent over 4,000 emails and letters to the governor’s office.
“Our rallying cry was ‘Save it for the people, not the privileged few,'" Aleen told me. 

The Friends worked tirelessly and at last the state condemned the land and settled with the developer to purchase his original tract.
So it was that because of the work of this small group of thoughtful, committed citizens, I was able to see for myself the beauty of High Falls and Triple Falls -- in the company of any number of happy hikers and nature lovers.
After the feeling of frustration I've been experiencing during the past weeks, a visit to DuPont Forest was a wonderful reminder that now and then government can get it right -- when we, the people, keep after them.

Thanks, Aleen, not just for the great picnic and the pleasant company, but for the example you set!
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27 comments:

Victoria said...

God/dess bless Aleen Steinberg and her friends! We've lost so many parts of our forest to gated 'communities'; it really lifts my spirits to know that this incredibly beautiful part of your state will be, as it should be, public.

The photos are beautiful, Vicki.

Merisi Vienna said...

These are good news, indeed!
Shame on DuPont for selling them in the first place.

Ms. A said...

And you got some excellent photos during your visit!

Alan Burnett said...

It is heartening to read of this campaign - and of its success. The fight to protect public places : whether forests, hills or parks is an important one in this would that seems to want to fence things off.

Jj Rodriguez said...

Very good news indeed. And thank you for taking me there thru these wonderful photos...

I just love it!..

JJRod'z

Brian Miller said...

smiles. true that...love the mead quote...and so inspiring to see it come into play...beautiful pics...will have to add that to our stop list when we travel...

Mama-Bug said...

What a great story with a truly happy ending! Those falls are stunning; I'd love to see them.

Thérèse said...

Inspiring good news! And incredibly great views!

Barbara Rogers said...

Since I'm a relative newcomer to this area (doesn't it take several generations to become a local?) I didn't know the history of the falls. Thank you for telling it, and thanks so much to Aleen Steinberg and her crew for doing what needed to be done. I've loved visiting these falls several times, but enjoyed your pictures as well.

Susan said...

This says something about keeping it small and local to be effective. The national scene is way out of control.........ours as well as the "leaders". How wonderful to give us not only this shining example of doing good and doing it well, but to SHOW us!
Thanks

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

To think that this beautiful piece of wild land almost became a gated community to me is abhorrent. Good for the group that saved it for all to enjoy! -- barbara

Elora said...

I guess my thoughts drift to the question of why this type of thing can exist, causing thousands of dollars of effort that needed to be made all because of greed. You see, this is the pattern, now. I highly recommend reading David C. Korten's book, Agenda for a New Economy; this kind of outrage would never occur. Like it or not, we ARE coming to a huge change in the way the world works. We've only just begun. Right now, as illustated by your post, Vicki, we are held hostage by deep pockets who are gearing up for their own walled-in existence when things deteriorate more. The wealthy are buying their own islands throughout the world.

Elora

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Cheers for all who were involved in saving the forest. The story reflects what has happened/is happening here on the Cumberland Plateau. Bowater Paper Company sold off large tracts of land, some of which contained their famous "pocket wildernesses." Our former (Democratic) Governor Bredeson joined with conservation groups to save vast tracts. With Nashville now firmly in the grasp of the Republicans, we don't expect much along those lines. Jim

Louise said...

That is wonderful. And, a wonderful example of what we all can do if we persevere.

Darla said...

Spectacular and inspirational on multiple levels!

jennyfreckles said...

What a great story. Aleen should be very proud of what they achieved. A lovely legacy and I hope lots of people continue to enjoy that beautiful scenery.

jennyfreckles said...

I should add my favourite quote: "If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito." (Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop cosmetics chain.)

Anonymous said...
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J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

What an amazing place and story. I'm glad your friends fought to save these views for the general public and common sense reigned in the end.

Marilyn said...

Beautiful photos of this special place. What wonderful work Aleen and her friends did - more of our special places should be open for the public to enjoy.

Vicki Lane said...

Aleen is an amazing woman -- I'm lucky to have her as a friend.

Gwen in Hampton said...

Here in Hampton we are having a similar success story. The Base Realignment and Closure Committee targeted historic Fort Monroe, at the mouth of the Chesapeake bay, for closure and the base closes next month after a fort presence on the site since the 1600's. When the Fort made the closure list, developers here started salivating and dreaming of gated communities too. However, local citizens were very vocal about keeping public access to the site and preserving the history and historic buildings at the fort. As a result, a committee of citizens, developers, local and state politicians and appointees was formed to determine the Fort's future. It now it appears very hopeful that the most historic areas of the site will transfer to the National Park service for the establishnment of a new national park, with the remainder transferring to State and local government control. Beach areas and the existing marina are to be kept open to the public, and many of the historic houses are to be left standing and restored. The rest of the fort will become a mix of office space and new housing which will help finance the upkeep on state owned public areas. Not too bad!

Vicki Lane said...

How wonderful, Gwen! I hope there are lots of stories like this out there.

NCmountainwoman said...

One of our favorite nearby hikes! The trail from Hooker to Triple Falls was closed for several days last month for a movie they were filming. Great photographs of the wonderful falls.

We give money to Friends of DuPont Forest but I hadn't heard of Friends of the Falls. I'll check it out.

Vicki Lane said...

NCmountainwoman -- it's possible that Friends of the Falls turned into Friends of DuPont Forest.

Deanna said...

What a great story. This group of "little people" saved those falls! They are beautiful.

Kath said...

That's wonderful! And of course the photos are gorgeous!