News | August 10, 2009

NC Legislature Passes Mountain Bill

Recognizing the importance of protecting the outstanding natural resources of North Carolina's mountain region, the General Assembly on August 7 passed the Mountain Resources Act with broad bipartisan support.

The act creates a Mountain Resources Commission tasked with coordinating multiple, ongoing local efforts to conserve water quality, wildlife habitat, native forests, scenic beauty and other natural resources in the mountain counties.  The commission will support existing programs in the mountain communities by recommending new strategies and seeking federal and foundation support for mountain planning. 

SELC played a lead role in working with the legislature over the past year on this concept as part of our long-term strategy to advance sound local and regional planning in the mountain region. We cultivated support from the mountain area Councils of Government as well as the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government officials, which helped ultimately to persuade the whole mountain delegation to back the bill. In addition, we coordinated with other conservation groups who advocated for the measure, including the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Western North Carolina Alliance, and The Nature Conservancy.

We are hopeful that the commission will generate  momentum for a number of local environmental and land use policy proposals already in the works, and that it will serve as a vital forum and a source of resources for mountain communities on these issues for years to come.