Chimney Rock State Park featured on UNC-TV

Examines public/private partnership
Nov. 28, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

A series examining environmental issues affecting North Carolina state parks will air at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 2-4 on UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Now.”

The Dec. 2 segment will feature Chimney Rock State Park and the impact of the park’s public/private partnership.

The series will look at how the public/private partnership at Chimney Rock State Park is balancing the demands of tourism with the need to preserve one of the state’s most famous natural attractions.

The state acquired the park in 2007 after it had been owned and operated by the Morse family for a century. Since the purchase the state has spent nearly $1.75 million to bring the park up to current safety and environmental standards. At the same time N.C. State Parks has contracted with a private management company to run the park’s attractions in the only such public/private partnership in the state.

The private management company is Chimney Rock Management Company LLC.

The series is produced by students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The students crafted the series as part of professor Tom Linden’s “Science Documentary Television” course.

The series also includes the following segments:

 On Dec. 3, Linden will show how officials at Pilot Mountain State Park northwest of Winston-Salem are monitoring regrowth of plant life one year after a controlled 200-acre burn jumped fire lines and extended to 600 acres before it was extinguished. Biologists explain how fire has spawned new life on this iconic mountain.

  On Dec. 4, the last of the three reports will show how state and federal officials are bringing water back to Dismal Swamp State Park, more than 200 years after settlers started draining this unique ecosystem north of Elizabeth City near the Virginia border. Two years after a massive fire swept through the swamp and wiped out most of the remaining stands of the Atlantic white cedar, park rangers have planted 10,000 saplings. Only 1 percent of the original white cedar forest remains, but rangers say they are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep the swamp hydrated.

Student producers for the pieces are UNC undergraduates Abigail Brewer, Caleb Cates, Brian Walker, Rachel Tove-White, exchange student Ana Navarrina and master’s student Courtni Kopietz. Scriptwriters are undergraduate Andy Willard and graduate students Natalie Taylor and Dan Lane. UNC-TV’s Mike Oniffrey is the chief videographer and video editor, and Heather Dollar is the graphic artist. Linden is the narrator and executive producer.