BOGGS-Ashe County water enthusiasts could soon have a new summer destination for kayaking and fishing as preliminary negotiations may soon be underway to add the Elk Shoals beach and campground to the New River State Park.
Such an addition would secure the general public’s permanent right to visit the beach during normal operating hours although the campground’s current owners have extended this privilege to river goers for some time. The purchase would also add a highly-sought after venue to the state park’s collection of campgrounds and educational centers.
The New River Conservancy is spearheading this effort and would be ultimately responsible for raising the bulk of the funds needed to purchase the park, as state budget restrictions would prevent the state parks’ services from adding to the cause for the foreseeable future.
After raising the necessary funds to purchase the park, the conservancy would then donate Elk Shoals to the New River State Park, which would be responsible for maintenance and future additions.
NRC President George Santucci said the conservancy has been eyeing Elk Shoals for a long time.
“The owners have a genuine desire to have the property used as something as a state park,” said Santucci. “They would much rather see that outcome instead of it being used for development purposes. The question is how flexible can they be with the price?”
He added the conservancy is in an “extremely preliminary phase in determining the feasibility” of the purchase. Officials are still awaiting an appraisal before an offer can be made.
Elk Shoals is comprised of 350 acres that is surrounded four miles of river frontage.
“It has several built in amenities,” Santucci added. “It has river access. It has that beautiful built-in beach the community has relied on for years. There are also several species of concern living out there– mostly plants – surviving and thriving out there.”
Aside from pricing, several hurdles could be in place to prevent the transaction from coming to fruition.
“There are substantial needs out there for sure,” said Santucci. “That’s another big part of the equation. There are some buildings that are new like the chapel and two buildings which would be serviceable immediately. The lodge is probably the largest in need of repair. The residence on the property is in desperate need of repair. There could be upwards of half a million in structural upgrades that are needed up there.”
It could cost state officials more than a million dollars to just replace the low-water bridge that provides access to the campground. Such a move would be necessary to ensure heavy machinery could make it across the river to provided needed upgrades to the campground, said Santucci.
Altogether, it could cost the state more than $1 million to manage the addition park alone.
NRC has already secured a grant from the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund and will be relying on donations from the community and private sources to make the dream a reality.
“The first step is just figuring out if the acquisition is even possible,” said Santucci.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Elk Shoals could be the latest addition to New River State Park.