NPS Officially Comes Out Against North Shore Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Heintooga Ridge Road. NPS Photo.

Fall washes over Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Heintooga Ridge Road. NPS Photo.

While the proverbial handwriting has been on the wall ever since former U.S. Representative Charlie Taylor lost his re-election bid last November, the National Park Service finally has officially come out against building the so-called "road to nowhere" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Mr. Taylor, you might recall, is a Republican from North Carolina who adamantly believed the Park Service should spent $600 million or so on a dead-end road on the shores of Fontana Lake so a handful of families could reach family cemeteries that had been isolated by the lake's waters.

Never mind that the Park Service was providing ferry service to those families once a year to visit the cemeteries. And never mind that most other politicians in North Carolina, from the governor down to the county commissioners in Swain County, where the proposed road and Fontana Lake are located, opposed the road and instead favored a one-time payout of $52 million.

When the Park Service in January 2006 released its draft environmental impact statement on the proposed road, it failed to identify a preferred alternative. Perhaps that was so as not to antagonize Mr. Taylor, who at the time was still in Congress and headed a key House committee that held sway over the Interior Department.

Well, today the Park Service issued its final EIS on the road, and it clearly states that the preferred alternative would be to abandon the road project and instead pay Swain County the $52 million.


The monetary settlement would ensure that resources of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail would be unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. It would fulfill project goals and objectives including the protection of natural, cultural, and recreational resources.

Comments

"When the Park Service in January 2006 released its draft environmental impact statement on the proposed road, it failed to identify a preferred alternative. Perhaps that was so as not to antagonize Mr. Taylor, who at the time was still in Congress and headed a key House committee that held sway over the Interior Department."

Just another example of how petty politics, yet again, overrides a vital resource management decision. Telling the truth could jeopardize funding and careers. Is this what greatness is made of?

Oh and by the way, instead of attacking me would someone mind engaging in a useful dialog about the issues I'm raising. My position is clear anyone care to challenge it?

I applaud and fully support the NPS decision, but one thing concerns me:

I have not yet read the entire document (two of the three sections I've accessed have not downloaded successfully), but my impression is that the FEIS still maintains that the road would not be an "impairment" of either the Appalachian Trail or the Great Smoky Park. I protested this claim in the DEIS, comparing it to the NewSpeak invented by George Orwell in "1984". And there's the same claim in the FEIS, with the same lack of justification.