Waterfront donation a Blue Trail fit

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, December 5, 2013

A donated tract of waterfront land by one Washington family will pave the way for another camping platform — and another dot on the Tar-Pamlico River Blue Trail.

According to a press release from the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, the Hindsley family gifted six acres of wooded, riparian land on Broad Creek to the organization this summer, for use on the Blue Trail, a continuous series of camping platforms to start at the most upstream navigable waters along the Tar-Pamlico River, from Granville County to the Pamlico and Pungo Rivers in Beaufort and Hyde Counties, according to PTRF Riverkeeper Heather Jacobs Deck.

The PTRF project got its official start in 2012 with the construction of two platforms and another campsite for paddlers looking for overnight stays while exploring eastern North Carolina waterways. The sites are available for use year round and reservations can be made on the organization’s website.

When completed, the Blue Trail will have 15 to 20 camping platforms, with several more along known navigable tributaries such as Fishing Creek, a large tributary that comes into the Tar River near Tarboro.

“We hope to generate numbers like those on the Roanoke River,” Deck said. “They have 15 platforms and get up to 1,000 users annually.”

The Hindsley property camping platform is one of five slated to be built over the winter and next spring, Deck said, adding that PTRF is in negotiations for leases with other landowners further upstream.

“Within three years, we should be at the point we’ll have a pretty connective trail,” Deck said.

According to Jan Hindsley, her family’s land and the PTRF’s Blue Trail vision were a perfect fit.

“I had heard that they were building these platforms and this was property that really was not suitable for any building, but seemed to possibly be a good use for the land,” Hindsley explained. “They looked at it and thought it was a great location. We were thrilled to death — PTRF is such a great organization and this is such a wonderful project for the river, for kayakers and canoeists.”

The donation was also a way for the Hindsleys to give back to the grassroots environmental organization that hired the Hindsleys’ son straight out of college, launching his career as a full professor of Coastal Resource Management at a Florida university.

“It’s a very special organization and it was a great opportunity for us to support them,” Hindsley said.

“This generous gift from the Hindsley family will provide for greater public access and use of the river,” said PTRF Executive Director Harrison Marks. “The location on Broad Creek fits perfectly with the plans for the Blue Trail, and will provide an opportunity for both local residents and visitors a chance to experience the beauty of our coastal creeks.”

In addition being a new location to camp on the Blue Trail, the land will be used for water education programs.

“We’re in the process of developing some educational programs, probably aimed at middle school children,” Deck said. “It’s meant to be a sort of outdoor classroom —to get kids outdoors.”

Funding for the construction of the camping platforms comes from a $75,000 Recreational Trails Program grant, a federal grant administered by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Rec, Deck said.