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DuPont Forest admission fees back on the table

Admission fees at DuPont State Forest are back on the table in the North Carolina Legislature, in the form of a study to create a plan for "a sustainable revenue stream" for the popular recreation site.

State Rep. Chuck McGrady disclosed the proposed study in his latest newsletter. He and state Sen. Chuck Edwards have been working on the entry fee idea for the past several years, only to have the proposal shot down by opposition from Transylvania County officials and trail users.

A bill sponsored by McGrady and Edwards "directs the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs to study DuPont State Recreational Forest’s operating model and create a plan to ensure a sustainable revenue stream for the forest," McGrady said.

The study is designed to recommend a financial model based on practices in North Carolina or other states, draft an entry fee schedule that favors North Carolina citizens and requires out-of-state visitors to pay more, recommend legislation to ensure that the admission fee revenue is used only for the forest’s capital, maintenance and operational needs and recommend a list of capital projects or operational changes needed to improve safety concerning roadside parking.

The bill requires the Agriculture Department to report its findings and recommendations to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources and the Legislature's Fiscal Research Division by next. Feb. 1.