10.09.09

Burr, Hagan Introduce Bills To Improve Land Use in Western North Carolina

Legislation would expand Pisgah National Forest and give Blowing Rock, NC ownership of water supply

Yesterday, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced two pieces of legislation related to lands in Western North Carolina.

The Pisgah National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act would authorize the U.S. Forest Service to acquire twenty-three acres of land near Catawba Falls and the Pisgah National Forest and allow the Forest Service to open a public trail to Catawba Falls.

The second bill, The Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act, would allow the town of Blowing Rock to acquire permanent ownership of its water supply reservoir and give the Parkway a 192-acre buffer tract from the town.

Both bills have companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1002 (Pisgah) and H.R. 1121 (Blowing Rock), and both enjoy strong bipartisan support in the House."North Carolina's public lands are some of our state's greatest assets," Burr said. "The Pisgah National Forest provides tremendous environmental and economic benefits to McDowell County, and providing trail access to Catawba Falls will drive more tourists to the area."

"Ensuring the town of Blowing Rock will continue to have access to their water supply is important and gives a boost to the overall economy," Burr added. "Both of these pieces of legislation will allow North Carolinians to enjoy the beauty of their state."

"Our forests and public lands are natural treasures in our state," said Hagan. "These bills will support the economy in the region and ensure these areas are accessible and enjoyable to North Carolinians now and into the future. Senator Burr and I are working together to advance this legislation in the Senate."

The Pisgah National Forest, established in 1916, contains over 519,000 acres of North Carolina land. Catawba Falls, located within Pisgah National Forest, was previously inaccessible because access to the falls was blocked by private land.

The Town of Blowing Rock, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National Park Service have agreed to a land exchange that would allow the Town to acquire permanent ownership of its water supply reservoir by expanding it by 20-acres, and the Parkway would gain a 192-acre buffer tract from the Town to ensure the integrity of its existing park holdings.