North Shore Road, GSMNP   Edward Frank
  Mar 09, 2006 20:59 PST 


I received this notice from The Natural Resources Defense Council concerning construction of a road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The text I received from them is attached below. Does anyone know any more about this project or whether it would impact any of the big tree areas of the park?

Edward Frank


The National Park Service is considering building a new road through 30 miles
of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the crown jewels of America's
national park system.

We need your immediate help to stop the proposed North Shore Road, which would
slice through the heart of NRDC's Cumberland Plateau BioGem and destroy one of
the largest pristine wildlands in the eastern United States.

Please go to
right away and urge the National Park Service to reject the North Shore Road

At a cost of at least $600 million in taxpayer dollars, the North Shore Road
would lay waste to portions of the celebrated Appalachian Trail, as well as
vital habitat for black bears, migratory songbirds and other wildlife.

Road construction would pollute local waterways with acidic runoff and heavy
metals, contaminating nearby streams with toxic chemicals and killing aquatic
life in one of the world's most species-rich watersheds. In fact, much of this
area has already been recommended for formal wilderness designation -- and is
already managed as wilderness -- by the Park Service.

The Park Service is currently accepting comments on whether to build this ill-
conceived road or, instead, offer Swain County, North Carolina, a monetary

Please go to
and urge the Park Service to reject the North Shore Road and approve the
monetary settlement -- which would benefit local residents, protect the park's
thriving wildlife and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Thank you for helping to save the last remaining native forests of the
southeastern United States.
Re: North Shore Road, GSMNP   MICHAEL DAVIE
  Mar 09, 2006 19:02 PST 
This is a long-running issue between the park and Swain county. The draft EIS is up for review now, at . The options aren't quite as simple as is stated below, but overall I think it would be an environmental disaster as well as absurdly expensive. As far as the impacts on big trees, I don't know. Maybe tall trees. I've traveled more of the north side of Fontana Lake in the park than most people, but when I was going around there I wasn't a good judge of heights, unfortunately. Most of the forest is second-growth, but it is a vast wild area full of many sheltered, rich coves, and the second-growth is pretty awesome. It's beautiful and remote. I really want to go back there and measure, it's just so hard to get to. With the new road, I could drive right up and measure! Hurray for the road!
Really, it would be a disaster. I'm going to offer my statements for the review. I hope it never, ever happens.
RE: North Shore Road, GSMNP
  Mar 09, 2006 21:37 PST 

I know (from old pictures) that the north shore of Fontana Lake is very,
pretty and remote, it would be a crime to destroy that remote area and add
so much noise pollution to the region. some of the old photos I saw of
trees even right at the shoreline had them looking pretty tall and sizeable
(if not old-growth) and the photos dated from probably 50-60 years ago, so
by now, must be some very beautiful second growth in there considering how
fast trees grow there and how second-growth early climax they already
looked half a century ago.
GSMP road
  Mar 22, 2006 12:07 PST 

This came to me today, the editorial was in the New York Times.
so I thought I would pass it on.

Russ Richardson

The Road to Nowhere   
Published: March 20, 2006

It seems insane that the National Park Service would even think of spending
$600 million on a road that few people want and nobody needs — especially when
the service has barely enough money to keep up appearances. But that could
happen unless the Interior Department musters the courage to resist
Representative Charles Taylor of North Carolina.
Mr. Taylor, who says a new road would stimulate the local economy, runs the
subcommittee that controls the Interior Department's budget. For that reason,
neither the park service nor Interior's outgoing secretary, Gale Norton, has
publicly criticized the idea. But there is more at stake here than pleasing
one's paymaster. The road would not only blow a hole in the department's
budget; it would also leave a scar on one of the most popular national parks.
At issue is a 30-mile road proposed for the north side of Fontana Lake on the
eastern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.
The road was promised to the residents of Swain County in 1943 when the
Tennessee Valley Authority built a major hydroelectric dam, creating the lake and
flooding out an existing road. After a fitful start in the 1960's, the road
was abandoned for environmental and budgetary reasons.
Those reasons still apply. The road, including three big bridges, each the
length of the Brooklyn Bridge, would breach an unbroken tract of national
forest, destroy wildlife habitat and poison hundreds of miles of streams. Its
estimated cost of $604 million — up 40 percent from only a year ago — is three
times the annual roads budget for the entire national park system, which is
already suffering from a big repair backlog.
There is no pressing need for the project. Swain County has other roads. The
road's opponents include Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, and Swain
County's own commissioners. There is broad agreement that restitution of some
sort is due the residents of the region, and that the spirit if not the letter
of the original agreement should be honored. A cash settlement of $52
million has been proposed.
As Mr. Taylor has noted, this will not generate the jobs and income that the
road project would. But it's fair, and it won't do lasting damage. Interior
should endorse the settlement. The department's neutrality serves only to keep
alive an idea that makes even less sense now than it did in 1943.