U.S. Senate passes WNC heritage preservation bill

(Note from DH in WNC: John Edwards sells out WNC residents AGAIN ... more steel cables (NOT STRINGS) to choke down private property owners in WNC and eliminate more industry! Wait 'til the Wildlands Project people and DENR/DWQ get a hold on this one: Good-bye, neighbors -- shut your mouth and MOVE NOW, or be forced out later!)

November 20, 2002

By Jon Ostendorff

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ASHEVILLE - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at preserving, protecting and promoting the heritage of Western North Carolina.

Sen. John Edwards' bill to designate the 25-county Western North Carolina region as a National Heritage Area and bring in $10 million in federal funding will now go to the U.S. House for approval. A House panel recently rejected a similar bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor on a procedural error.

Local tourism and business leaders say they could use the funds to develop the region's arts, crafts, bluegrass music and Cherokee culture and showcase it to the nation. Tourism is a key economic development tool in WNC, which lacks heavy industry and is losing its textile base.

"It looks very positive," said Mark Owen, a spokesman for AdvantageWest, an economic development group. "Of course, the original bill was introduced by Charles Taylor, and he has supported it in the House. It looks positive."

Edwards said the legislation "recognizes ... that the Blue Ridge Mountains are a national treasure."

The National Park Service administers 23 heritage areas nationwide.