NC groups call on Obama to protect the Blue Ridge Parkway

Here’s the press release from Environment North Carolina:

Raleigh– Today, Environment North Carolina and 24 other businesses and environmental advocacy groups called on President Obama to protect the Blue Ridge Parkway from over development and pollution by funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and other beloved parks and forests in North Carolina have provided North Carolina residents with lifelong memories for more than 78 years. With groups such as Great Outdoor Provision Company and Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains signed on, the letter sent to President Obama today demonstrates the tremendous value that citizens, outdoor organizations, and local business owners place on North Carolina’s public parks and forests.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway and many other parks and forests all across North Carolina are where some of our families’ most unforgettable memories are formed,” said Liz Kazal, field associate with Environment North Carolina. “That’s why the Parkway and all our treasured natural areas deserve permanent protections from encroaching development and pollution.”

The letter urges President Obama to protect North Carolina’s parks and forests by fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his upcoming budget proposal. The Land and Water Conservation Fund provides public lands protection from overdevelopment and pollution by giving the National Park Service the ability to purchase privately owned land from willing sellers–all without spending a single taxpayer dollar.

The letter details how Congress’ annual raiding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund has left a legacy of backlogged conservation and recreation needs. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has only been fully funded once since its establishment 50 years ago, and just last year, Congress proposed a ninety-three percent cut to the fund. All the while, the Blue Ridge Parkway and many other parks are facing increasing threats of development.

To prevent overdevelopment from threatening North Carolina’s environment, President Obama must address the undercutting of our nation’s premier fund for land and water protection. Two thirds of the land surrounding The Blue Ridge Parkway remains unprotected, and with Western North Carolina loosing 10,000 acres of forests and farmland to development each year, funding for our parks and forests is critical.

“Both Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan have championed legislation calling for full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and we applaud their leadership in protecting our parks,” said Kazal. “President Obama has a great opportunity to follow their lead and help ensure that places like the Blue Ridge Parkway are protected by calling for full and dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his upcoming budget proposal. Our parks, forests, and future generations are depending on it.”

Environment North Carolina is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.


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