Sunday, June 03, 2007

The "Road to Nowhere"

The National Park Service has recommended abandoning a plan to construct the so called "Road to Nowhere" through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road's construction was originally promised in 1943 to the residents of Swain County, North Carolina as a way for them to visit their family cemeteries, which were cut off from road access by the construction of Lake Fontana, without having to take a boat across the lake. Instead of funding the construction the park service will seek a settlement with the families involved. A recent article in the Charlotte Observer praises the decision.

The construction of the road caught the interest of fishermen who felt the project would harm the ecology of the park and also provide easy access to one of the state's best trout streams, Hazel Creek. Hazel Creek is currently only accessible by boat, a factor that contributes to its being one of the state's premier trout fisheries.

That's why 17 members of Congress signed a letter asking the administration to abandon the road and make a cash settlement with Swain County, whose commissioners have said they'd accept a $52 million offer. They plan to use the money to promote economic development in an area where the government owns much of the land. That solution would preserve the mountain ecosystem, help the county and save U.S. taxpayers a bundle of money.

Here is a link to an article about Hazel Creek from the GORP website. The article is written by Don Kirk, a noted authority on trout fishing in the GSMNP.

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