To the Editor:
As Quintin Ellison notes in her article, “By Land and By Water— (Jan. 18 Smoky Mountain News) the “crowning success” of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee was undoubtedly the preservation of the 4,500-acre Needmore Tract on the Little Tennessee River.
What is also undoubtedly true and seldom mentioned is the grassroots work of several organizations in that success, and specifically the work of the WNC Alliance.
As a stakeholder in the Tuckasegee Cooperative Stakeholders Team (2000-2005), the Alliance fought to bring Needmore to the table — to be included as mitigation for the federal relicensing of Duke Energy’s hydropower generation in the Nantahala system, which included the Tuckasegee and Little Tennessee Rivers.
The ultimate stakeholders agreement did not include Needmore, but the efforts of WNCA, WATR, American Rivers, and the N.C. Wildlife Federation (to name a few) paved the way for Bill Gibson with the Southwestern Planning Commission to begin negotiations with Duke over the transfer of Needmore to the public domain. This led to the purchase of Needmore by the State of North Carolina with help from USFWS.
There are some who choose to relegate the work of the WNCA as a footnote in the struggle to save Needmore. In reality the Alliance should be part of the main text for organizations that were part of that crowning success.