Company donates ‘doughnut hole’ inside DuPont State Forest

A mountain biker picks his way across a boulder at Bridal Veil Falls in DuPont State Forest.
A mountain biker picks his way across a boulder at Bridal Veil Falls in DuPont State Forest. special to the observer

DuPont has completed its donation of a 476-acre “doughnut hole” inside popular DuPont State Recreational Forest in Western North Carolina, state officials say.

The property was the site of a DuPont plant that was demolished in 2006. DuPont will remain responsible for ongoing cleanups of soil and groundwater contamination left by decades of making silicon and X-ray film.

State agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler called it the “final piece” for the forest, which the state acquired in phases between 1995 and 2008. It now totals nearly 11,000 acres.

The forest lies between Hendersonville and Brevard. The Little River runs through, creating four major waterfalls. Five lakes and 80 miles of roads and trails draw about 750,000 hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians a year.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has worked with DuPont, the Department of Environmental Quality, the N.C. National Guard and other agencies since late 2013 to complete the expansion.

“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.

Public uses of the additional acreage could include parking, hunting and a shorter route to the forest’s heavily visited Bridal Veil Falls. But public access will be years away as the N.C. Forest Service, which manages the forest, develops long-term plans.

The National Guard is also likely to make use of the tract for low-impact training in land navigation and helicopter aquatic rescue.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender