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NFC: NC little t conservation news

Robert Rice
NFC president
          December 7, 2001
Dear Friends,
            Those of you for whom this is redundant, who have already
written letters, stood up at hearings, etc. please forgive me – and thank
you.  This is too important to miss any opportunities.
            We have just had two public meetings – one in Franklin, the
other in Bryson City – about the Division of Water Quality’s draft
Basinwide Plan for the Little Tennessee Basin.  At both meetings,
numerous citizens, including representatives from several local
conservation organizations, asked for additional, special protection for
the unique and priceless reach of the Little Tennessee River between Lake
Emory Dam in Macon County and Fontana Reservoir in Swain County.  It is
within the power of the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) to include such
protection, in the form of recommendations, in the final draft of the
plan.  No one at the meetings opposed such special protection.  This is
reminiscent of, and related to, the hearing on the “Tennessee River RV
Park” discharge permit, when 43 speakers opposed the permit and only one
individual – the developer – spoke in favor.  And the protection we seek
would mean that we do not face the prospect of innumerable such hearings
in the future, any time someone wants to discharge pollutants to our
            The only “opposition” to further protection is in the form of
reluctance to move on the part of the DWQ.  They want to put the whole
issue off to be taken up in the next 5 year planning period.  We all know
what will happen in 5 years; we can’t wait.  
            The main justification the DWQ gives is that they always face
opposition when they try to issue regulations or deny permits.  One might
ask “opposition from whom?”  Not from anyone who cares to be publicly
identified, it seems.
            In addition to the specific issues of our river we are here
facing something which looks a lot like the issue of campaign finance
reform.  A relatively small number of individuals, who do not come to
public hearings or write letters to the editor have other ways of
exercising influence, and do so disproportionately to their number.  
            Most of you are already familiar with the river issues –
endangered species, recreational use, baptisms, and the nature of
development along our river corridor north of town – including the
Needmore Tract, for which many of us have campaigned long and hard.  
Here we have another issue, one of public participation and – in my
opinion – a battle for the soul of the DWQ. 
            About at least one thing, the DWQ has been very forthright. 
The more letters they receive advocating for special protection for the
Little T, the better chance it has of happening in a timely fashion.  Our
goal is that they receive correspondence way up in the hundreds of
letters.  So PLEASE write before Jan. 11.   Ask other family members to
do the same, or at least to sign your letter.  Bring this before any
organizations you may belong to, not only conservation groups, but
community clubs, churches, sportsmens groups, etc.  Widen the circle to
include people you know who may not live in our watershed but who visit
and use our river recreationally.  The address:
            Callie Dobson, planner
            North Carolina Division of Water Quality
            1617 Mail Service Center
            Raleigh, NC 27699-1617
            Let’s help the Division of Water Quality live up to their
name.  You don’t have to cite all the issues, just let it be known that
you expect the DWQ to protect water quality, in the Little T and
elsewhere, and that there is a need to adopt special provisions for the
Little T below Lake Emory Dam.  You will be helping not only the Little T
but, in the long run, all the waters of North Carolina.
                                    Bill McLarney
p.s.  If you need additional info, or just want to discuss ideas, please
feel free to contact me at this address, by phone at (828) 524-8369 or by
mail at 1120 Meadows Rd., Franklin, NC 28734.

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