BADIN — As part of the ALCOA Corporation’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing agreement, finalized in 2013, the company donated an additional 1,064 acres of land to the Morrow Mountain State Park. The park officially accepted the donation on May 14 and announced it in a May 26 press release.
Morrow Mountain State Park’s total area is now 5,881 acres just south of Badin and east of Albemarle along the Yadkin River, which changes its name to the Pee Dee River in the park.
“This is a substantial addition to this treasured state park,” said North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi H. Hamilton. “Morrow Mountain has been a beloved destination for families from Stanly and nearby counties for generations. The opportunity to have this amount of Piedmont land for conservation, recreation, and education is extraordinary.”
All the potential uses of the land for those visiting the park have not been determined, but Jeff Davidson, superintendent of the park, told SCJ, “We will soon start on a management plan for this new property. This will involve park staff and many staff in N.C. State Parks administration. Through this process, a plan will be established for what type of recreation will be allowed on this property. It is likely that stages will be defined for development and the development will occur when funding is secured.”
Davidson said the land transfer is effective immediately and puts park property on three reservoirs: Lake Tillery, Falls Reservoir and Badin Lake.
Despite this land now being officially part of the park, Davidson said, “There is no parking developed yet for this property to allow access. The land is also not yet marked with boundary markers to show where park property lines are. This is a priority and there are plans to have boundary lines marked soon.”
A flood of people has returned to Morrow Mountains since the parks have been reopened. Davidson said the park has had 42,198 visitors since May 9 and 13,440 just over Memorial Day, both numbers being current to Friday, May 29.
“Overall, we have seen almost twice the amount of visitors on individual weekend days when we have nice weather, and some parking lots have been at capacity,” Davidson said, adding that recent rain has caused lower numbers on other days.
The newly donated land is on the north-northwest edge of the park. The press release said the land has nesting bald eagles, timber rattlesnakes and “the rare Yadkin River Goldenrod,” along with scenic vistas and large boulder fields.
Amateur archaeologists and historians will also be interested to hear that the historic Hardaway site is part of the donation. The site, which has been studied for decades by experts, has evidence of more than 10,000 years of human occupation.
“We are so grateful to have this addition to Morrow Mountain State Park,” said superintendent Jeff Davidson. “This major addition will conserve important ecosystems and make a little more room for recreation to serve nearby communities as well as the growing Piedmont population.”