ALCOA Generating in Deal to Protect 10,000 Acres Around Smoky Mountains

ALCOA Generating in Deal to Protect 10,000 Acres Around Smoky Mountains

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 12th, 2004, 3:13 pm #1

An orphaned yearling was released into the wild at Calderwood Overlook along U.S. 129 Monday to cap a ceremonial signing of a ``Dam Relicensing Settlement Agreement'' with Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI), the electricity producing subsidiary of ALCOA.
The centerpiece of the agreement, which still has to clear some legislative hurdles and be formally approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, was the draw for dozens of politicians, conservationists and bureaucrats who gathered at the overlook.
Part of the relicensing deal, which spanned seven years and included consultation and input with dozens of private environmental groups and government agencies, calls for the protection of some 10,000 acres of mountain land between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee and Nantahala national forests.
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. will grant a permanent easement on 5,700 acres of the rugged forest land to the Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy will also receive a 40-year easement on 4,000 acres of land. Both tracts will remain open to the public for current uses, and will see recreational improvements in the future. The larger tract will likely be sold to the Department of the Interior for an addition either to the Cherokee National Forest or Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The deal also included a bit of legislative housekeeping, since it could not proceed without a ``land swap'' between APGI and the National Park Service. That entails the trade of some 100 acres of flooded Chilhowee Reservoir land within the Park for 186 acres of APGI land between U.S. 129 and the current Park boundary.
http://www.thedailytimes.com/sited/story/html/163438
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 14th, 2004, 1:09 am #2

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was dealt a blow by an international panel of tourism experts who ranked 115 destinations worldwide for a March article in National Geographic Traveler.

Of the three categories — “The Good,” “Not So Bad,” and “Getting Ugly” — the Smokies ranked near the bottom in the “Getting Ugly” category. Towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cloud visitors’ natural and cultural experience and encroach on the park’s ecosystem, the experts said.

Visitors interviewed in the park last week seemed to agree that the Tennessee side of the park is too gaudy. The wax museum, chair lift, sky needle and fudge and cotton candy shops of Gatlinburg were not the reason they visited the Smokies. In fact, it was a turn-off.

“I don’t like it. I’ll tell you the truth,” said Paul Johnson, a visitor from Houston, Texas. “It’s too commercial. There’s nowhere to park. It isn’t tourist-friendly.”

“The forest is just stunning,” he said. But next time, Johnson said he will take the bypass around Gatlinburg and try Pigeon Forge. When asked if he considered the North Carolina side of the park, Johnson grew puzzled. While he’d heard you could get into the park from North Carolina, he wasn’t sure how or where.

Meanwhile, business owners on the North Carolina side of the Smokies are pulling their hair out trying to lure more park visitors, pitching their towns as the antithesis of the amusement park motif of Gatlinburg.

“We need to emphasize this is the greener side of the park,” said Kent Stewart, owner of Waynesville Book Company.

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues ... _ugly.html
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

May 14th, 2004, 2:08 am #3

I've been to the Smokies three times (most recently just a few weeks ago) and I love them. Gatlinburg, in my opinion, is a very nice little mountain town comparable in some respects to Lake Placid ... definitely geared towards tourists but with an unmistakeable "in the mountains" feel to them. Pigeon Forge is a little odd - kind of like Las Vegas in the mountains - but if I were to ever take my kids to the Smokies, I know they'd get a kick out of Pigeon Forge.

If you want to talk about weird though ... during my recent highpointing trip, I drove through the Cherokee Indian Reservation during a Harley rally on the reservation. It was one of the strangest things I'd ever seen. The reservation in general plays up every stereotype you can think of when it comes to the Native American culture. Now just throw in 20,000 or so biker types. It was truly amusing.

Anyway, towns and places are what they are ... calling someplace "ugly" just to make your own favorite area seem somehow better serves no useful purpose if you ask me.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 12:16 am

May 14th, 2004, 6:15 am #4

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was dealt a blow by an international panel of tourism experts who ranked 115 destinations worldwide for a March article in National Geographic Traveler.

Of the three categories — “The Good,” “Not So Bad,” and “Getting Ugly” — the Smokies ranked near the bottom in the “Getting Ugly” category. Towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cloud visitors’ natural and cultural experience and encroach on the park’s ecosystem, the experts said.

Visitors interviewed in the park last week seemed to agree that the Tennessee side of the park is too gaudy. The wax museum, chair lift, sky needle and fudge and cotton candy shops of Gatlinburg were not the reason they visited the Smokies. In fact, it was a turn-off.

“I don’t like it. I’ll tell you the truth,” said Paul Johnson, a visitor from Houston, Texas. “It’s too commercial. There’s nowhere to park. It isn’t tourist-friendly.”

“The forest is just stunning,” he said. But next time, Johnson said he will take the bypass around Gatlinburg and try Pigeon Forge. When asked if he considered the North Carolina side of the park, Johnson grew puzzled. While he’d heard you could get into the park from North Carolina, he wasn’t sure how or where.

Meanwhile, business owners on the North Carolina side of the Smokies are pulling their hair out trying to lure more park visitors, pitching their towns as the antithesis of the amusement park motif of Gatlinburg.

“We need to emphasize this is the greener side of the park,” said Kent Stewart, owner of Waynesville Book Company.

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues ... _ugly.html
I was fortunate enough to visit both sides of the Park in a drive from Knoxville to Clingman's Dome and ultimately on to Mt. Mitchell via the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The town of Gatlinburg was a bit touristy to be sure, but it looked like a fun place for family entertainment. It is in many ways similar to Estes Park, CO as a tourist town near the national park entrance. The Tennessee side had some nice areas, especially Cades Cove. I will say that the Tennesse side was a bit more crowded than the NC side, perhaps due to Gatlinburg being located right at the park entrance. The views of the mountains and some of the historical structures were great in either state. I am at a loss to explain how that park became "ugly" in anyone's book. The park seemed to be set up well in terms of facilities, pullouts, hiking trails, and a general variety of places to vist. Of course, there is that statistic that the park is the most visited of all national parks.

It is no doubt a very beautiful area on both sides. There was not too much activity coming out on the NC side and entering the Blue Ridge Parkway immediately after leaving the park entrance. Technically, I guess Asheville, NC would be considered the main eastern "gateway" to the park since it is the first place on the NC side that can match the facilities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. So if you are looking for a less crowded experience, then the NC side is for you.

Looking back on the trip to the Smokies, I was equally impressed with both sides and could not find the alleged ugliness that National Geographic refers to.
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Joined: January 22nd, 2004, 5:48 am

May 15th, 2004, 3:46 am #5

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was dealt a blow by an international panel of tourism experts who ranked 115 destinations worldwide for a March article in National Geographic Traveler.

Of the three categories — “The Good,” “Not So Bad,” and “Getting Ugly” — the Smokies ranked near the bottom in the “Getting Ugly” category. Towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cloud visitors’ natural and cultural experience and encroach on the park’s ecosystem, the experts said.

Visitors interviewed in the park last week seemed to agree that the Tennessee side of the park is too gaudy. The wax museum, chair lift, sky needle and fudge and cotton candy shops of Gatlinburg were not the reason they visited the Smokies. In fact, it was a turn-off.

“I don’t like it. I’ll tell you the truth,” said Paul Johnson, a visitor from Houston, Texas. “It’s too commercial. There’s nowhere to park. It isn’t tourist-friendly.”

“The forest is just stunning,” he said. But next time, Johnson said he will take the bypass around Gatlinburg and try Pigeon Forge. When asked if he considered the North Carolina side of the park, Johnson grew puzzled. While he’d heard you could get into the park from North Carolina, he wasn’t sure how or where.

Meanwhile, business owners on the North Carolina side of the Smokies are pulling their hair out trying to lure more park visitors, pitching their towns as the antithesis of the amusement park motif of Gatlinburg.

“We need to emphasize this is the greener side of the park,” said Kent Stewart, owner of Waynesville Book Company.

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues ... _ugly.html
Have driven through and around the park. Have hiked close to 200 milkes of the park trails, mainly in the north. Gatlinburg and Cherokee are ugly. Newfound Gap, the Dome, and Cades Cove are ugly full of cars at times. Get in certain parts of the park and you won't see hardly anyone. Get in others and tourons are everywhere. The views from Sterling, Cammerer, the Dome, and Thunderhead can be outstanding in clear weather. Most of the park is darn near empty before March 15 (AT through hikers) and after October 15 (fall foliage). You just need to know where to go. Lists of "best", "worse", "least populated", "most crowded", etc are usually done by people with nary a clue or actual experience to the places they comment about. Just my opinion. If more people think the Smokies are ugly, so be it. It will be easier to get a shelter or campsite.
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