Mountain Pride: Planning to enhance our Mountain Resources

 

Support S968, Mountain Resources Planning

The natural resources of the western North Carolina mountains are treasured by all North Carolinians and admired around the world. The Blue Ridge Mountains are internationally recognized for the astonishing richness and diversity of life they support. Every year, tourism in the mountains generates $2.8 billion in revenue for the state economy and creates 45,500 jobs for North Carolina residents.

Because of their natural beauty, the mountains of western North Carolina have always attracted new residents to the region, who have provided many benefits to western North Carolina and to the state. In recent years, however, an acceleration in the pace and scale of mountain development has overwhelmed mountain communities and their local governments. Increasingly, new developments are being constructed in rural areas away from existing communities and adjacent to public forests, state and federal parks, and other highly-valued natural resources like state natural heritage areas and priority conservation areas. Across the region, many local governments have been unprepared for this surge in development and the pressure it places on the natural resources of the mountains. Many mountain communities lack even minimal planning for future growth. Those local governments are now scrambling to adopt the plans and tools they need to encourage high-quality development while protecting the natural beauty and rural character that define their communities.

The state has a critical role to play aiding the efforts of local governments in the mountains as they catch up with the pace of development. The Mountain Resources Act facilitates planning in the mountains by establishing a Mountain Resources Fund into which the legislature can appropriate funding to assist local and regional planning for the benefit of priority mountain resources including forests, state and federal parks, rivers and watersheds. Appropriations to the Mountain Resources Fund will be distributed to the mountain area Councils of Government to provide planning services for their member governments and to pass through to those local governments with the capacity to undertake their own planning efforts. The Act also establishes the Mountain Resources Study Commission, a standing legislative study commission with the task of evaluating the needs of mountain communities as they plan for the benefit of mountain resources and addressing those needs in the General Assembly.

Support S968, the Mountain Area Resources Act
to help western North Carolina prosper.

For more information: DJ Gerken, Southern Environmental
Law Center, djgerken@selcnc.org, (828) 258-2023

 Posted by at 6:14 pm