Monday, November 27, 2006

Bad News for the New River?

Recent developments pertaining to the New River watershed have taken a disturbing twist. The New River, who's headwaters are located near Boone, North Carolina, is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America and is even thought to predate the Blue Ridge Mountain range through which it meanders.

Recently the Ashe County, North Carolina planning board gave approval for a developer to build homes within the flood plain of the South Fork of the New River located near the tiny community of Todd, North Carolina. Locals are concerned that the river will suffer from added pollution in the likely event of flooding and that the cluttering up of the creek bank with houses will hurt the area's appeal with the many tourists who frequent the area to take advantage of bike riding along the flat and scenic "Railroad Grade Road." What perplexes me is that even the folks who approved the construction projects seem not to like the idea of development on this scenic river.

After the vote, Zach Edwardson, the Ashe County planning director, told audience members that planning-board members struggled with the decision, and that the issue should be studied so that the flood-plain ordinance matches the intent of what board members would like to see happen in flood plains.
"Even some of the ones who voted 'yes' were not comfortable approving it," he said, and then turned his focus to the board members. "When this issue comes up again - and it will come up again - we can make a decision that follows all the rules in the books, but you as a person agree with."

I lived in this area of the New River for several years and can say that it is truly a resource that can never be replaced. Hopefully, our elected officials will take a stance to protect it.

It is not just private developers who want to build on the banks of the New River. Government seems poised to try and get into the act as well. Another possible problem for the New River is a proposed prison and bridge on its banks in the Cox Chapel area near the North Carolina / Virginia line. Fishing guide Marty Shaffner of Tri-state Angler Guide Service brings to our attention this project and its possibly harmful effects on the river. He says in a recent message board posting:

"the proposed bridge and prison construction would affect the river for at least a couple of years in siltation I am sure."

There is a movement to try to prevent the construction. Visit the aptly named NoPrison blog for information.

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