In support of clean energy
To the Editor:
Southwestern North Carolina represents North Carolina’s premier outdoor recreation area. The region hosts one of the largest water recreation playgrounds in the Southeast, as well as two of the nation’s most visited units of the National Park System, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Nantahala National Forest boasts the most visitor recreation user days in the Eastern U.S.
Outdoor recreation drives the regional economy for both tourism and local business development. Recreation-related entrepreneurism abounds and is growing at a record pace annually. Much of this prosperity is a direct result of the abundance of water recreation resources created decades ago by hydro generation. The region is now home to the largest concentration of whitewater outfitters in the world, and the Nantahala River represents one of the most used rivers in the nation for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. Olympic athletes from all over the world train on the Nantahala, where the Canoe Freestyle World Championships were held in 2013. The Tuckaseegee River has some of the highest concentrations of rainbow, brook, and brown trout outside of Montana and Idaho.
Last October, after four years of study, the region was distinguished with designation as the nation’s 85th national water trail: N.C. Smoky Mountain Blueways, consisting of 167 miles of waterways formed by five major rivers, the Little Tennessee, Nantahala, Tuckaseegee, Oconaluftee and Cheoha and the lakes of Fontana, Nantahala, Glenville and Santeetlah including 46 primary access points. The natural landscape of this Little Tennessee River Basin has unparalleled beauty, diverse outdoor recreation opportunities and a strong private and public infrastructure in place for the outdoor recreation enthusiast.
These outdoor water recreation opportunities and the economic benefit they have fed for Southwestern North Carolina are made possible in large part from hydro generation of power and the clean, cost-effective, and reliable energy source it provides. Duke Energy is a major provider of hydro generation in the region. Smoky Mountain Host of N.C., the region’s destination marketing and tourism development organization, has worked in partnership with Duke Energy for over 30 years to promote the uniqueness of the clean, renewable energy characteristics of hydro power generation and the supplemental water recreation resource it provides to the outdoors enthusiast and tourism economy.
Our region’s quality of life and economic vitality are in large measure dependent on Duke Energy’s continued commitment to a modern and reliable energy grid and the investments required to foster more renewable energy to meet sustainability goals. Such investments will spur job creation and enhance the region’s environmental and economic future.
We at Smoky Mountain Host look forward to collaborating with Duke Energy and state leaders to encourage prioritization and continued investment and modernization of the energy grid and the benefits they will bring to outdoor recreation in the Southwestern North Carolina.
David Huskins, Managing Director
Smoky Mountain Host of N.C.
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