Page images

National Park. I don't question their sincerity, but they are sincerely wrong in causing the federal government to default on its commitment.

Mr. Chairman, according to the National Park Service, the Great Smoky Moun. tains National Park comprises some 521,053.41 acres of land in North Carolina and * Tennessee.

It is my understanding that depending on the width of the right-of-way—the distance from the center line on each side of a road—it would take a maximum of 336 acres with a 100 foot right-of-way to construct a 28 mile road. Under the 53-yearold contract which the federal government signed with Swain County, and the commitment made to the people of the county, the federal government stipulated that a "dustless road of 20 feet in width" would be constructed which could involve even less right-of-way.

This road would also allow so many visitors to the area to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But, the bottom line is that the agreement required the federal government to construct the road, yet here we are, 53 years later, and the road has still not been completed.

My legislation also requires the federal government to pay Swain County $16 mil. lion which the federal government owes the county for destroying Highway 288. (The $400,000 called for in the 1943 agreement was paid to the State of North Carolina as trustee for the county, but never delivered to Swain County or the citizens thereof.) This was small compensation to the county, which lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues as a result of the government seizure of 267,577 acres out of a total of 345,715 acres which comprise Swain County.

Nearby, Graham County and Haywood County have the same problem. Out of 193,216 acres in Graham County the federal government has taken 138,813 acres and out of 353,452 acres in Haywood County the federal government has taken 131,111. These statistics are a measurement of the frustration that Swain County and other neighboring counties suffer because of unkept promises by the federal government. The Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program does not fairly compensate Swain and other counties for lost tax revenues. Nor does it compensate them for missed economic opportunities when the counties were passed over by industries who would have come to the area is the federal government had honorably kept its promises.

Mr. Chairman, S. 987 recognizes the enormous contributions made by the Cherokees to North Carolina and United States. It does so by directing the Department of the Interior to erect an historical marker at Soco Gap, North Carolina.

Mr. Chairman, again thank you for holding this hearing. I know there's not much time left in this Congress and I appreciate your willingness to help the good people of Swain County.

Senator KYL. Thank you, Senator Helms.

Of course, the point here, even though it is late, is to try to establish the record so that you can proceed with your goal to try to get this resolved this year.

Senator HELMS. Yes, sir.
Senator Kyl. And we are very happy to hold that hearing.
Senator HELMS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator Kyl. I might add, by the way, that when I worked for the National Park Service, I worked for a fellow who had just come from the Great Smoky Mountains, headed up that. His name is Ralph Shaver, and he never ceased in his description of that very beautiful place in the world.

Senator HELMS. I want to take you down there. I took Malcolm Wallop down one time, and he wanted to move down there.

Senator Kyl. I will be happy to take you up on that. Thank you. Senator Faircloth.


FROM NORTH CAROLINA Senator FAIRCLOTH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

Senator Helms has given us a very detailed and accurate description of the amounts of land taken. Out of 700,000 or 800,000 in the park, we are talking about 300 or 400 for the road really. But I want to talk to you on the way this land was taken.

At the end of 1941, at the end of Pearl Harbor, this Nation was thrown into a degree of fear that permeated society, a national fear that we were going to be overrun by the Japanese_and the Axis governments generally, the German governments. For anyone to have risen up and even questioned anything in the war effort, they literally would have been ostracized by society. We children were let out of school at noontime to pickup every scrap of metal on every road and every junk car and everything that was not junk. Toothpaste tubes were saved, everything.

The Federal Government went into Swain County and to these people and said—to give you an idea of the topography we are talking about here, the greatest deposit of alumina bauxite in the world is right over in Maryville, Tennessee. It was one of the founding of Alcoa's first major plants. In fact, the Appalachian Power Company was established not to create power for the people of the Appalachian community, but to give Alcoa the right of eminent domain to be able to dam up the rivers in that area to shoot the power over to Maryville for the production of aluminum. At this point the only aluminum company in the United States was Alcoa.

Now, the Federal Government put huge amounts of money to establish Kaiser and Reynold's as aluminum companies, but for the war effort.

So, they went to these people and said, you have to get out. We are going to build this huge dam to generate power to make aluminum.

Of course, they were like everybody else. It was almost hysteria. They said, we will go, we will go, we are gone. They emptied it, 70,000 whatever acres, almost within 30 days. In fact, they were bringing in the bulldozers down the one side of the road and the people were trying to move out on wagons up the other side. They really had no choice and they thought they were doing a great effort.

They anticipated at least the road coming back. Now, if the commitment of the Federal Government to build a road for these people is of no value, then I ask you what commitment that the Federal Government makes is of value. Do we decide that a bond really is not a relevant issue anymore and times have changed, so we do not pay it? Do we say that Social Security—we made a commitment, but we really do not feel like we ought to do that anymore. Times have changed, you know, so we do not really want to do it.

So, if this commitment is not a valid obligation of the Federal Government, then there is not any way in the future to know whether a commitment of this Government is valid or not. And that is very simply the issue. It does not make any difference what the people of Swain County say. It makes less difference what the Sierra Society, the environmentalists, say. This was a flat-told commitment made by the Government of this country to these people, and there is no excuse for not fulfilling it.

I thank you. Senator KYL. Thank you, Senator Faircloth. Congressman Taylor, I called you Charlie before. I should say Charles Taylor, but the audience should know that I served with Charlie Taylor, know him well, respect him a great deal, and we are delighted to have you here, Charlie.


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM NORTH CAROLINA Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you. I appreciate it. Mr. Chairman, I am honored to be here with you, a fellow House member, and that raises your standing a great deal to have come that way. I appreciate the opportunity to speak here with Senator Helms and Senator Faircloth.

S. 987 in the Senate and H.R. 4112 in the House are identical bills that would do a variety of things. I think both our Senators from North Carolina very eloquently stated two specific areas: one, the commitment of the Federal Government, and the sacrifice made by the people of western North Carolina at a time of emergency, and that the Government owes that commitment.

I would like to step on into an area of some of the criticisms. For instance, a lot of the arguments against this talk about that we would be disturbing a wilderness. The Congress has never declared this park a wilderness. Although bills have been introduced, the Congress has never seen fit to do this. We are not talking about an area where man has never trod.

We are talking about in the park on the North Carolina and Tennessee side—for instance, on the Tennessee side, we have an area called Cades Cove. It is bumper to bumper there inside the park with a road a good many months out of the year.

a There is another road, I think Roaring River, if I have the name right, that goes through the park on the Tennessee side. There is a hotel in the park on that side. There are private dwellings that have been there for nearly 50 years that were left as a concession to people who live there. Then there is a road through the middle of the park now that connects North Carolina and Tennessee, a road all the way across from Gatlinburg to Cherokee. There is at the top of the mountain along the base at Clingman's Dome a major public facility where you can look out for miles in both directions.

So, to say that we sort of have a piece of land here that has never been touched is misrepresenting what we have. It is a beautiful park. As Senator Helms pointed out, we are not talking about making very much change. We are talking about, along the lake edge of the road where there is a great deal of activity already on the lake, constructing or completing a road that would be less than 30 miles. It would be along the edge of the park and it would not be a four-lane commercial highway. It would be a very tastefully done small access through the park for controlled traffic.

Now, we also ought to remember that up until World War II the whole park area was communities and schools and businesses because you had hundreds of homes spread throughout the park. The people who had to leave the cemeteries that we talked about there before-most of the North Carolina side of the park was logged. The logging companies were in so the cutting was done right up until World War II, not that many years ago.

So, to say that we are going into an area that ought not be touched because man has never been there is really misrepresenting what it is about.

They have also pointed out that there are environmental problems: acidity of the rocks and so forth. The Federal Government just finished, or we are going to dedicate it in October, Senator, the road from Tellico Plains that was a much more difficult road than this to build, much from an environmental standpoint, that is only a few miles away from this. It is not in the park. It goes through national forests to a large extent and comes into Graham County. They had the same problems of acidity leaking in. They took care of those problems environmentally. As I say, it is going to be dedicated. So, they can control any leaching into the lake or into the streams as easily with the road we are talking about because it does not have near the slope that we just completed.

The North Shore Road would do a further thing. We did a survey not long ago, and on the Tennessee side where the two Senators, Senator Gore and Sasser, that opposed this road quite actively had nothing to say in opposition to the enormous amount of development going on on the Tennessee side of the park. The point is that they take in roughly $15 for every $1 that is taken in on the North Carolina side.

And we are talking about four different things here. First of all, we are talking about the U.S. Government's commitment, and I agree with both Senators. It is something that must be met. It may be the fad today not to honor your commitments, but in western North Carolina, the people believe in it and the U.S. Government should certainly believe in it.

We also should talk about the economic hardship of the almost 85 percent of this county that is now owned by the Federal Government. The promise is not being kept, so they have suffered all these years without that promise being met and the economic opportunity. Unemployment in this region, not just in this county, but Graham County and the entire area out there, goes as high as 20 percent some years. It has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the southeast.

As I mentioned before, it can be done along the edge of the lake much like the Blue Ridge Parkway without causing the environmental questions.

So, the commitment of the Government, the economic equity that ought to be there, the fact that the environmental argument is bogus, and we give access to the people of America, our elderly, handicapped, and others, into a park that now is having to be accessed pretty much across a lake I think speaks for the fact that we should be positive and pass Senator Helms' and the H.R. 4112 bills.

Thank you for letting me be here.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Taylor follows:)

FROM NORTH CAROLINA Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today in support of S. 987 and its companion bill in the House, H.R. 4112. As the Representative from the eleventh district of North Carolina, I have the privilege of representing the people of Swain County.

The road to nowhere. It's an issue that's been ongoing for 53 years. It's a matter of the United States government making a promise and not keeping its word. It's about families who can only visit the grave sites of loved ones at designated times of the year and only by boat. It's about a county with over 80 percent of its land base in federal ownership. You will hear from those who have been, and continue to be, directly impacted by the absence of the North Shore Road. I am hear to discuss another matter that is often broached when the North Shore Road is discussed the environment.

Many of those who oppose the construction of the North Shore Road claim it will harm the environment. I feel certain the road can be constructed with minimal impact on the environment. Remember, we are not talking about a four-lane interstate highway accommodating commercial traffic. Rather, the North Shore Road would be a scenic by-way from Bryson City to Fontana, similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the recently completed Cherohala Skyway. Commercial traffic would be prohibited.

Concern has been raised about the acidity of the rocks along the planned route and the possibility of acid leaching into the lake during road construction. There is a solution available to ensure that acid does not leach into the lake and harm the fish and wildlife. The solution is to simply spray the rock with lime. Acid leaching problem solved. It is a process that has been employed many times before because the rock is common in North Carolina.

The North Shore Road would follow the old road, route 288. In many instances, it can be built over the existing road bed. Only in those areas where the old road is flooded will new ground have to be broken. Using the existing road bed to the greatest extent possible will further reduce the environmental impact of the road's construction.

What about the wilderness experience-won't that be lost? Actually, no. The road will expand opportunities for people to enjoy more of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. First, it would open the park to thousands of seniors and those who have physical disabilities that limit their access to most wilderness experiences. You know, not everyone has the stamina or resources to go camping and hiking in the back country. The road would add to the number of areas in the park available for day hikers or fishermen, those who like or are only able to get away for short periods. Also, the Park Service can continue its wilderness management practice in the northern portion of the park.

The North Shore Road will provide more recreational opportunities to park visitors. For instance, at one time in this 53-year saga, recreational facilities and a marina were proposed for Fontana Lake by then-Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus. I'm sure it's no surprise that these were never built. Completion of the road will provide an opportunity for private businesses to contract with the park to construct these facilities, thus expanding recreational activities available to park visitors.

Road construction will certainly be expensive--more expensive now than it would have been in 1943, when it should have been built. However, the expense of constructing the road should not be used as a reason for not building it.

The United States government made a promise to the people of Swain County. When that agreement was signed in 1943, the county turned over land in its tax base for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Tennessee Valley Authority. In exchange, a road was to be constructed that would encourage economic opportunities for those in the county, building on expanded tourism to western North Carolina. After 53 years, it's time for this road to be completed.

Over 80 percent of Swain County is now in federal ownership. We have the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee Valley Authority, Cherokee Indian Trust Lands, and National Forest Service. Economic opportunities in the county will rest on increased tourism, which will occur if there is more available to visitorsmore activities, more services. Completion of the North Shore Road is integral to the county's success.

There were those who protested the construction of the Cherohala Skyway-formerly the Tellico Plains Road-linking Tellico Plains, Tennessee and Robbinsville, North Carolina. They claimed

it would destroy the wilderness experience and ruin the experience of visiting the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. This road, which will be formally dedicated next month, is an amazing scenic by-way and draws the awe of many who travel it. I know it will draw visitors to Graham County and to all of western North Carolina.

There are those who would protest if the Blue Ridge Parkway were proposed for construction today. And yet, today, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited site in the National Park System. It has strong local support and provides travelers a relaxing, meandering travel route through western North Carolina and Virginia.

« PreviousContinue »