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NFC: hlp needmore land tract (fwd)
Help: Needmore Land Tract
Joshua L. Wiegert
NFC Lists Administrator Wiegerj at paulsmiths_edu
www.geocities.com/RainForest/Jungle/1680/ owner-nfc at actwin_com
ICQ 1918889 AIM UID: Etheosoma
Feel free to contact me by any of the above means for any reason.
pujwI' HIvlu'chugh quvbe'lu' reH 'eb tu'lu'
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 07:07:17 -0500
From: robertrice at juno_com
To: nfc at actwin_com
Subject: help needmore land tract
Dr. William O. McLarney
1120 Meadows Rd. Franklin, NC 28734
anaiinc at dnet_net
December 29, 1999
LITTLE TENNESSEE RIVER - URGENT ALERT!!!
ALL BIOLOGISTS ON DECK!
Some of you have already heard from me re the Little Tennessee River
Needmore Road issue. This letter expands this discussion to cover a new
threat/opportunity involving the Needmore Reach of the Little T and the
whole Needmore area in Swain and Macon Counties. What I am hoping we
can do is produce some sort of unified statement from the aquatic biology
community (plus whatever other kind of hell raising each of you does
For this audience, at least in this round, I don't think I have to spell
out the importance of the Little Tennessee between Franklin and Fontana
in terms of T and E species or the whole ecosystem (not to mention
esthetics, recreation and the special fun we have working there). I may
have to explain the land tenure situation for some of you:
The present day quasi-wilderness esthetic we enjoy in Needmore is due to
the fact that Nantahala Power and Light Company (NPL) owns the entire
river bank (both sides) for 11.9 miles, from the mouth of Burningtown
Creek to Fontana, and will for 2 more days (but more about that later).
At some points this mostly forested corridor is fairly narrow; at others
it is up to 1.5 miles wide on either bank. In all NPL owns 4,500 acres
(3,400 of it in Swain County), acquired in the 1930's with the idea of
building a power dam, which "we" (through the ESA) have probably had some
hand in preventing. Gradually, the threat became the protection.
To expand the picture for you just a bit (and maybe help pull in some
non-aquatic types) I was the first to articulate the fact that the
"Needmore Tract" forms the core of a larger conservation area, linking
the river with the Nantahala Range (and the Appalachian Trail) to the
west, at elevations of up to 4,600 ft. and to the east with the Cowees,
(including the 2,100 acre Big Laurel tract, a conservation victory of a
few years back) at elevations of up 5,000 ft. This corridor is presently
forested; much of it is National Forest. But the lower elevations are at
Recognizing that a dam never to be built cannot provide permanent
protection, a group of local and regional organizations have been working
for several years on data gathering, planning, contacts with local
governments, and fund raising aimed at preserving the Needmore Tract. We
had thought that the FERC relicensing process for NPL's dams was a factor
on our side. We had scheduled a meeting with NPL executives on January
4, with the intention of presenting a plan for the area and asking for an
option on the property, in the confidence that we can come up with the
several millions of dollars it will cost.
But on December 23, NPL (a Duke Energy subsidiary) threw us a curve by
transferring the Needmore Tract to Crescent Resources (Duke's real estate
arm). Crescent immediately approached the North Carolina chapter of The
Nature Conservancy (TNC) about preparing a conservation plan which would
permit them to develop a substantial (undisclosed) amount of the Needmore
Our fear is that TNC, due to a combination of insufficient information,
a narrow focus on at risk elements of the aquatic community and pressure
to serve their client, Crescent, will not choose to protect enough. By
"not enough" I imply not only not enough land, but insufficient
protection for the aquatic environment. I make this case in another
attachment (which you are encouraged to quote).
There are also other values to be preserved, which I need not spell out.
There are ways to protect this area while bringing economic,
recreational, educational and social benefits to Macon and Swain
Certainly there is nothing here that TNC will not be able to understand,
and so will some sectors of county government, a substantial portion of
the local populace, and recreational users of the river. But there are
powerful forces working against us, in the name of "development". (The
road issue looms large here.) Several sets of feet need to be held to
the fire, and we need all the help we can get to do so.
It would be truly impressive if the aquatic biologists of the Southeast,
as a group, were to insist on protecting all of the Needmore Tract from
big roads and real estate development.
I am sending this to an assortment of you who are most accessible to me
at the moment. Please share this widely and/or send me addresses.
Please get back to me about how this part of the conservation task should
best be handled. We have people here willing to do a lot of the
nitty-gritty if the numbers are there.
At least some of you know that this watershed is my career; I don't have
the opportunity many of you do to study multiple rivers. My personal
emotional investment is about as large as it could be. Yet even though
the Little T is "family", I think I am being objective in saying it is
one of the most important conservation challenges around. This would
seem to be one of the best opportunities we, as professionals, are ever
going to have to apply our knowledge and our prestige to protect a
significant portion of one of our most important rivers at a single
stroke. I hope to be overwhelmed by your response.
IF ANY OF YOU HAVE PARTICULARLY GOOD CONTACTS WITH ANY OF THE PLAYERS IN
THIS DRAMA, BY ALL MEANS GO STRAIGHT TO THEM. IF YOU ARE LIKE ME AND
CAN'T HELP EXPRESSING YOUR FEELINGS ON THIS, LETTERS, EMAILS, PHONE CALLS
OR WHATEVER TO TNC & CRESCENT CAN'T HURT.
BUT MAINLY I'D LIKE YOU TO GET BACK TO ME SO WE CAN PLAN HOW TO SEND A
BATTALION OF A THOUSAND BIOLOGISTS INTO THE FRAY IN THEIR TWO THOUSAND
WET, SQUISHY SHOES. THANKS!!!