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Save RDU Forest: A timeline

An ongoing timeline for all major developments in the Save RDU Forest issue.

March 2015: NC State Parks system celebrates its centennial at Umstead Park on March 5. The first state park was created in 1915 at Mount Mitchell. At the event, Gov. Pat McCrory designates the first week of March as “North Carolina State Parks Week.”

March 2015: NC legislature bill filed on March 26 proposes to swap more than 300 acres between Umstead and RDU, much to the surprise of The Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves the park. The bill eventually failed in the Senate.

June 2015: Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority begins the planning process for its $2.7 billion Master Plan “Vision 2040.”

March 2016: Voters pass $75 million bond for state parks.

October 2016: RDU holds last public workshop on the plan.

October 2016: The RDUAA board unanimously approves the “Vision 2040” plan on Oct. 20, 2016.

July 2017: The Conservation Fund, an Arlington, Va.-based conservation group, Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves Umstead Park, and Meetup group Triangle Off-Road Cyclists offer to buy the 105-acre Odd Fellows tract for $6.5 million. The Umstead Coalition says the property has been on the critical land acquisitions list for Umstead Park for decades and is crucial to its watershed. (Although TORC is named on the proposal, it would not have contributed money toward the purchase.)

September 2017: RDU makes three parcels, including the Odd Fellows tract, totaling 256 acres adjacent to Umstead Park available for lease and sale.

October 2017: RDU rejects all proposals for the parcels, including that of The Conservation Fund, the Umstead Coalition, and Morrisville-based Wake Stone Corp.

November 2017: The Federal Aviation Administration approves RDU’s “Vision 2040” plan in a letter dated Nov. 20. (RDU makes the announcement on its web site in December.)

2018: Umstead Coalition and local residents step up protest efforts by becoming “RDU Forest.” They start attending Wake County Commissioners meetings, making yard signs.

March 2018: The FAA tells RDU to cut down trees on a border with Umstead Park that it says would interfere with a radar. RDU Forest members say the move would encroach too much on the park.

November 2018: Wake County voters pass $120 million bond for parks and open spaces.

March 2019: On March 1, RDU leases the Oddfellow tract to Morrisville-based Wake Stone Corp. to mine the property. Wake Stone would have to pay RDU at least $8.5 million and an estimated $24 million in royalties over 35 years.

March 2019: Umstead Coalition, TORC and three citizens file a lawsuit on March 12 in Wake County Superior Court contending RDU’s lease to Wake Stone is illegal since it did not seek approval from the four municipalities that own RDU. Those are Raleigh City, Wake County, Durham City and Durham County.

March 2019: Wake County Superior Court grants injunction to temporarily halt construction activity at the Odd Fellows tract.

November 2019: Wake County Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley II rules in favor of RDUAA on Nov. 8, saying it acted legally in entering into the lease with Wake Stone without prior approval from neighboring municipalities.

December 2019: RDU proposes to spend $2.4 million to build a 13-mile fence with barbed wires that would bisect state park trails. RFPs were sent out in the summer.

January 2020: NC State Parks system tells RDU it’s willing to lease or buy the 150-acre “286 East” property that would be affected by the proposed fence. The property borders the Odd Fellow tract and Umstead Park. RDU says, “Our goal is to find a compromise… .”

January 2020: RDU announces plans to expand Terminal 1 with 21 new gates, including 4 gates slated to open by April 2020.

March-April 2020: RDU drops fence proposal, starts work to preserve the airport’s primary runway.

April 2020: Wake Stone applies for a mining permit with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

May 2020: RDU receives $49.5 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Umstead Coalition, state Sen. Wiley Nickel, and others ask the DEQ to delay a public hearing on Wake Stone’s mining application until after the coronavirus.

June 2020: RDUAA board reduces the airport’s budget by nearly 45 percent, deferring $96.1 million in projects, including the Terminal 1 gate expansion, Terminal 2 security gate expansion, Park Economy 3 expansion and roadway improvements.

June-July 2020: The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality holds two public hearings on the Wake Stone quarry.

July 2020: RDU begins work on its secondary runway, 5R/23L.

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