Archived Opinion

Kituwah was the wrong place for development

To the Editor:

Some locations just aren’t suitable for development, let alone to be utilized by a major utility project. Kituwah Valley is obviously one.    

A portion of Swain County’s citizens are aware, and others should be made aware, that Swain Couty has only 13 percent of its enormous land base at its disposal for generating revenue. This is due to the fact that most of the land is national forest and national park. Kituwah Valley, though a large section of the floor is once again owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, is within Swain County’s taxable land base and is currently a scenic stop on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, home to Darnell Farms (which has year-round events for tourists), and is host to the Hemlock Inn where couples have been married overlooking the beautiful valley. These businesses have been generating revenue for Swain County for generations, and they would not stand up to their own reputations as destinations quite the same if such a thing as an electrical utility complex were newly occupying their backdrop.

Now that the looming threat of a major electrical tie station being located up on the mountainside has been publicly extinguished, Swain County can move toward ordinances and other protective measures for its most valuable asset … its view scape.

Aside from the de-forested section of the mountainside property newly owned by Duke Energy Carolinas, and a few other reversible eyesores, the entire valley is a beautiful glimpse into the past.  It is bordered by U.S. 74 and serves passersby throughout the seasons as a corridor into Swain County with postcard perfect views of frosted vegetable rows, foggy mornings, sepia cornfield sunsets, brilliant sunrises, a full pallet of autumnal colors and smells, the glistening Nantahala River running cold through the thick summer canopy that follow its shores. Kituwah Valley is a living representation of the fading life-ways of our ancestors and is, for most of America and its tourists, a priceless perspective on their own national heritage.

So, I extend a big “Thank You” to Duke Energy Carolinas in making the decision to relocate their much-needed project outside of Kituwah Valley. I undoubtedly believe that this decision will benefit everyone for the long term.

My grandfather Jack C. Smith, a former Swain County commissioner, said to me of his philosophy: “You have to look 15 years out and plan for then.” I believe he would have said to Duke’s decision to relocate their project that “Well … it plain just makes sense.”   

I encourage readers to visit the website where you can view filings, documents, and the entirety of the request to Duke Energy Carolinas to make reparations to the citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and the citizens of Swain County on behalf of our homes and our history that have been affected by their recent project development.

Natalie Smith

EBCI member and Swain County resident

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