LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) – Now that the Lumber River is one of North Carolina's top 10 natural wonders. Today is the first Lumber River day celebration in Robeson County.
Hundreds gathered at Lumber River State Park Saturday to celebrate the Lumber River as one of North Carolina's ecological beauties.
"We, who have live here have always known that it's one of the great natural scenic beauty spots in the state," said Lumberton City Mayor Raymond Pennington. "It's great for the rest of the state to recognize that."
Local environmentalists and city officials initially sought the river's designation as one of the state's greatest natural wonders a way of preserving the plants and wildlife in the area. They now believe the river's new claim to fame will benefit the area beyond an environmental standpoint.
"It may bring some more people from afar to Robeson County and the Lumber River," said Hervey McIver, who works for the North Carolina Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. "When people come to recreate, they spend a little money and so it all helps locally."
Mac Legerton is the executive director of the Center for Community Action in Lumberton and manages a canoe and kayak company. He said the river's new designation is already having a positive impact on the local economy.
"It has already generated more people calling that want to come and enjoy the river and bring their families and their businesses and their churches to enjoy the river," Legerton said.
The Lumber River was declared one of North Carolina's top ten natural wonders in may 2010, as part of a contest sponsored by Land for Tomorrow The organization is an environmental coalition that works to preserve the state's land and water resources. Voters were asked to nominate any landscape, wildlife, plant life or natural feature they believed to be unique to North Carolina as part of a contest. The Lumber River was chosen alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smokey Mountains.
Four -hundred people from Robeson and the neighboring counties attended today's event. Event organizers declared Saturday's Lumber River Day a success and are hoping to make today's celebration and annual one.
Robin Sanchez is from Lumberton and is thrilled the River is putting her city on the map."Finally something is recognized, and it's actually beautiful," she said. Sanchez had never been to the river before today and said she is now inspired to go canoeing on the river.
Apart from the river's new prominence, Trinda Stone said she appreciated the event because it gave people a chance to celebrate something good in the community.
"I think it's a nice chance for the kids to come out and nice to have family events here," Stone said. "It's going to be good to see what the future holds."