NEW BERN, N.C. — A new nature park is coming to one area in Craven County.

The Coastal Land Trust announced Tuesday the purchase of 105 acres along Brice’s Creek for the creation of a new nature park.

The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Coastal Land Trust’s Croatan internal revolving loan fund, Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and founder of Bass Pro Shops and the White River Marine Group, and the North Carolina Community Foundation’s Richard Chapman Cleve Fund. In a demonstration of commitment to the community, Overlook Holdings, the property’s previous owners, sold the parcel at below market value. 

The idea for a new nature park launched in early 2021. The project received a big boost in May 2021 when Johnny Morris announced the acquisition of the iconic Hatteras brand and manufacturing facility located in New Bern. The White River Marine Group’s acquisition of Hatteras Yachts brings with it a significant investment in the New Bern community. 

“Conservation and connecting people with their passion for the outdoors lies at the very heart of our company,” Johnny Morris said. “Like any great conservation accomplishment, the new park became possible through collaboration. People working together. New Bern and Craven County is such a special place. It’s great that the area will have another beautiful place for people to get outside. We are proud to be members of this community.”

This new nature park with a towering forest, gentle terrain and Brice’s Creek will help inspire everyone to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. Johnny Morris and the Bass Pro Shops family of outdoor companies contributed $100,000 toward the new park. This contribution, combined with funds from the Coastal Land Trust and the Richard Chapman Cleve Fund, were used to purchase the land from Overlook Holdings.

This 105-acre property, along with the 67-acres of neighboring land already owned by the Coastal Land Trust, will be transferred to Craven County to become a new nature park.  The new park will be located off County Line Road near Old Airport Road. It will accommodate nature enthusiasts at a time when people are getting outside in record numbers to enjoy nature and parks across North Carolina. The new park joins Latham-Whitehurst Nature Park, which was established in 2008 when the Coastal Land Trust purchased 133 acres along Upper Broad Creek and transferred it to the county.

“The Coastal Land Trust has heard the call for more public outdoor spaces to enjoy nature—and we are responding,” said Janice Allen, Director of Land Protection for the Coastal Land Trust. “We especially thank Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops and the Richard Chapman Cleve Fund for their funding assistance and are proud to partner with Craven County. The County has done an amazing job with the Latham-Whitehurst Nature Park and we know they will create an equally impressive park on this newly acquired land along Brice’s Creek.” 

“We look forward to working with the Coastal Land Trust on this new park project. We also appreciate Johnny Morris and the Richard Chapman Cleve Fund for helping make this new park a reality. Stay tuned for news on park planning,” said Billy Wilkes, Director of Craven County Parks and Recreation.

According to the North Carolina Division of State Parks, North Carolinians are visiting state parks in record numbers.  In 2020 alone, state parks hosted 19.8 million people, which is 400,000 more visitors recorded than any other year on record.  Demand is equally high for local parks.