Press release from N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and DuPont have completed the company’s donation of 476 acres inside DuPont State Recreational Forest to the state.
The property, commonly known as the “doughnut hole,” was the site of a DuPont plant from 1956 to 2002. Demolition of the plant was completed in 2006.
“This property is the final piece for the completion of DuPont State Recreational Forest,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The acreage that DuPont generously donated joins property the state acquired in phases between 1995 and 2008, and boosts the size of the forest to almost 11,000 acres.”
The department has been working with DuPont, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, the N.C. National Guard and other agencies since late 2013 to get to this point, Troxler said. Throughout the process, there also has been consistent local support from the DuPont Forest Advisory Committee, Friends of DuPont Forest and elected officials.
“Donation of the remainder of the DuPont-owned land in the area represents another important step toward the company’s goal of safely returning the property to a use that benefits the State of North Carolina, its residents and the public in general,” said Doug Fletcher, DuPont’s business development manager for former operating sites.“The DuPont Company is pleased with the outcome and appreciates the hard work by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to make this happen.”
Possible future uses: recreation, natural resource protection, National Guard partnership
The forest is managed by the department’s N.C. Forest Service. Public uses of the newly obtained acreage could include parking, hunting and a shorter route to Bridal Veil Falls. However, public access will be a few years away as the NCFS develops a long-range plan that meshes with DuPont Forest’s master plan. Sensitive environmental and natural areas are present on the 476-acre site, and any protective restrictions will be included in the final public access plan for the property.
Future uses will also likely involve partnerships with the N.C. National Guard. Uses could include shared office space and low-impact training, such as on- and off-trail patrolling, land navigation, mountain terrain familiarization and Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team training.
Any training will be coordinated and under permit with the N.C. Forest Service to ensure it is conducted in accordance with the forest’s goals, protection of sensitive ecosystems and to minimize the impact on public use of the property.
Site has undergone cleanup; final remediation activities are planned
DuPont’s operations making high-purity silicon and X-ray films for more than four decades resulted in soil and groundwater contamination at the site. This has been the subject of many years of investigation and remediation. Although the state now owns the property, DuPont remains responsible for assessing and cleaning up remaining contamination.
The state Division of Waste Management has been overseeing remediation activities, which have included the demolition and removal of the former plant, the removal of thousands of pounds of X-ray film waste, and the collection of thousands of waste, soil, surface water, sediment and groundwater samples.
Earlier this year, DuPont drafted a plan to conduct additional cleanup activities and presented it to the public for feedback. The plan will guide final cleanup activities, which could take several years to complete.
About DuPont State Recreational Forest
DuPont State Recreational Forest is located in Henderson and Transylvania counties between Hendersonville and Brevard. Little River runs through the forest, with four major waterfalls along its course: Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The forest also contains five lakes and more than 80 miles of roads and trails that are shared by about 750,000 hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and other visitors annually. The forest’s habitats include upland oak forests, cove forests, granite domes, riparian areas, mountain bogs, wildlife openings and streams. Additional information is online at http://ncforestservice.gov/Contacts/dsf.htm.