While the proverbial handwriting has been on the wall ever since former U.S. Representative Charlie Taylor lost his re-election bid last November, the National Park Service finally has officially come out against building the so-called "road to nowhere" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Mr. Taylor, you might recall, is a Republican from North Carolina who adamantly believed the Park Service should spent $600 million or so on a dead-end road on the shores of Fontana Lake so a handful of families could reach family cemeteries that had been isolated by the lake's waters.
Never mind that the Park Service was providing ferry service to those families once a year to visit the cemeteries. And never mind that most other politicians in North Carolina, from the governor down to the county commissioners in Swain County, where the proposed road and Fontana Lake are located, opposed the road and instead favored a one-time payout of $52 million.
When the Park Service in January 2006 released its draft environmental impact statement on the proposed road, it failed to identify a preferred alternative. Perhaps that was so as not to antagonize Mr. Taylor, who at the time was still in Congress and headed a key House committee that held sway over the Interior Department.
Well, today the Park Service issued its final EIS on the road, and it clearly states that the preferred alternative would be to abandon the road project and instead pay Swain County the $52 million.
The monetary settlement would ensure that resources of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail would be unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. It would fulfill project goals and objectives including the protection of natural, cultural, and recreational resources.