Governor Cooper celebrates Earth Day at Goose Creek State Park

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, April 20, 2023

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Governor Roy Cooper, an Eastern North Carolina native, returned to the region to celebrate Earth Day at Goose Creek State Park in Washington on Thursday, April 20. Cooper celebrated a couple days early as Earth Day is actually Saturday, April 22. 

He visited Goose Creek to highlight the importance of state parks to citizen’s health and well-being as well as the revenue state parks bring to North Carolina. 

“We are so grateful to come to Goose Creek State Park to celebrate Earth Day,” Cooper said. “The good Lord gave us one Earth, and it is our responsibility to take care of it.” 

Cooper is from Nashville, North Carolina. A short drive he said for his boating, fishing trips on the Pamlico River in Washington Beaufort County. “It’s a very special place,” he said. 

“It is important for us to take time on Earth Day to give thanks for places like this. Places where you don’t have a lot of money to go to, places of beauty that are for everybody,” Cooper said enthusiastically. “Anybody can come to this place and be on this beach and see an amazing river and experience nature. 

 Cooper was joined by Reid Wilson, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Wilson said 2023 “is officially the year of the trail in North Carolina.” He referenced HB 554 which encourages citizens to get outside and take advantage of the 938 miles of designated trails throughout the state. Wilson shared that all 41 state parks saw a combined 20 million visitors last year. 

In the fiscal year 2020-2021, state parks had a record visitation in the system’s history with 23.4 million people, according to NC Parks’ website. Wilson said the parks are important in connection to  citizens’ mental, emotional and physical health – especially during the pandemic. “People needed an escape from everything that was going on,” Wilson said.

“When we think about our health, one of the very best places to be is outdoors. It’s good for our physical health – for exercise. It’s good for our mental health,” Cooper continued. 

Not only do state parks have health benefits, but they also help the state’s economy, Wilson explained. 

The outdoor recreation industry in North Carolina totals $28 billion per year and employs 260,000 jobs. “Outdoor recreation is a huge, huge part of our state’s economy,” Wilson shared.  

Members of Washington City Council, Richard Brooks and Mike Wrenn, and Beaufort County Commissioner Ed Booth were in attendance at Cooper’s visit. 

Richard Brooks said he hopes Washington can have more areas similar to Goose Creek in an effort to make the city more enjoyable for all people. He hopes parks can attract people who will then be inspired to move to the city.

Speaking about Goose Creek, Wrenn said, “it’s great that we have this resource in our backyard.” He shared that until Thursday, he had not visited the park in a while, but the day  motivated him to visit it more often. He said it was great to have Cooper visit Goose Creek, because it showed how much he appreciates it. He continued to say that parks give people a chance to enjoy the outdoors while preserving the environment. 

Booth said it was a “pleasant surprise” to have Cooper visit Beaufort County. Booth said it’s important to maintain natural parks, because they cannot be built to the same beauty. “The environment is one of our greatest assets, and we need to protect it with all that we can 

Goose Creek is located at ​​2190 Camp Leach Rd, in Washington. It is open year round from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Its expansive 1,672 acres offers camping, recreational activities including 8.5 miles of hiking trails, swimming,  paddling, fishing and picnicking. Its amenities include boat ramp, amphitheater, outdoor classroom, picnic shelters, a visitor center, river beach access  and a bath house.