On Sunday (12/19) the Greenville News (Greenville, SC) ran a front page story on the ownership issues related to Sassafrass Mountain. I have the article and if John or Dave or any of the HP Club in-charge people will e-mail me and tell me who is the best person to mail a copy to, I'll mail a copy for possible information for the next newsletter. I searched the Greenville News website, but they don't have the article online anywhere. The article contains good information and discusses some of the current land issues related to the mountain. It is a state highpoint that probably warrants the HP Club to become involved. In summary...
* The peak (2 acres) is owned by Duke Energy for the purpose of a communications tower.
* Duke owned the remainder of the mountain on the SC side but sold it to the state of SC for about 1/3 its value. Duke went through a lot of effort to get the land into the state's ownership.
* The NC side of the mountain is owned by a congressman from NC who will not discuss his intentions for the land. He has a poor record in congress on conservation issues.
* Duke is constantly being contacted by people interested in purchasing the summit.
* Several other mountains in the area have been built up by developers. Sassafrass Mountain is currently free of any development.
* The state of SC is trying to acquire the summit and negotiate an easement right-of-way on the NC side to protect the summit.
What I think the HP Club should do...
* HP Club should officially contact Duke Energy, the state of SC, and the NC congressman giving our desire to keep the summit of Sassafrass Mountain undevelopped and open to the public.
* HP Club members should be urged to write Duke Energy, the state of SC, and the NC congressman giving the same viewpoint.
* Personnally I think a good solution would be to officially make the summit a park and allow Duke Energy the opportunity to advertize their good name by being the sponsor of the park.
I'm in SC presently and expect to complete this highpoint later in the week. When I get home next week and digest the contents of the article, I'll check with John & Dave & other HP club officers to see what current involvement the club has with Sassafrass Mountain. I think Sassafrass Mountain deserves a little attention by the club as the situation could change there. Duke Energy is conducting itself to protect the summit from development, but things can change and the NC side could go towards development.
Hope everyone has a great Christmas.
Dave & I have thought mightly about this subject and have urged the Board to establish a "Private Highpoint Owner Liaison Committee" (. . . what a mouthful!). Many others have suggested the same. In the newsletter A2Z, we've publicized the topic of private owners, even going so far as making it cover story material.
The Club intends to have a strong central point of contact for private owner issues, indeed a committee. Advocates will be identified for each state and presumably be members of that committee. When issues arise, the chairperson will determine if it requires the local expertise of the Advocate and that person would be contacted and allowed to resolve the situation or become the point person for that issue.
Ideally, every state would have an Advocate assigned; someone who knows the owner and can work directly with any complex issues.
Currently, the closest thing the Club has to an "official spokesperson" is Jack Longacre who has provided letters in the name of the Club.
At the recent Board meeting, we discussed the topic of whether the Club should be politically active (ie, take stands, rally members' support, influence government decicions, etc.). Political activism will be left in the individual hands of the members so as not to jeopordize our potential non-profit status.
As far as SC, you are doing the correct thing in researching this topic and alerting us to the situation (and providing suggestions). Prepare an article for the next nl and in the meantime, keep supplying facts to Roger's Forum. A local member in SC should step forward and take the reigns and meet with Duke and the Congressman.