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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2006
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OP-ED

New TVA policy will protect shorelines

By Hank Byrnes

The Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority recently adopted a policy to protect the public land TVA controls from development. The editorial of Dec. 3 criticizing this policy as hindering development was poorly thought out. The banks of the reservoirs are mainly housing developments, mansions, and industry. There is not much left for the public. With further development of the shorelines, the very reason that this area attracts tourism, bass tournaments, and makes it a quality place to live, will be lost.

With rapid population growth and the rich getting so much richer, all the good places are being bought by the highest bidder. In the past 20 years, approximately 34 million acres of U.S. open land, or an area the size of Illinois, has been lost to development. Another 64 million acres are expected to be lost by 2020. Near the Florida Keys, mobile home lot owners are being offered a million dollars to sell their tiny properties on the beach.

Free enterprise is great, but in recent years the booming voice of big business and real estate development has drowned out the little peoplesí voices. (Actually, big business money has bought the politicians; it has nothing to do with acoustics.) If the governments do not do something, all the land along the reservoirs will end up in the hands of wealthy mansion owners and big industry.

The TVA obtained 1.3 million acres of Valley land through the right of eminent domain, which means the land is to be used for the common good of the people. The TVA has relinquished control of 537,000 acres, and 470,000 acres are under water, leaving only 293,000 acres of dry land still under TVA control.

The federal government is starting to realize that it has to protect open spaces from development. For instance, open space protection is a top priority of the U.S. Forest Service. If any area deserves protection, is it not the beautiful land along the shores of the Tennessee? Continual sprawl at the outskirts of urban areas has led to tremendous infrastructure and transportation problems, decline of inner cities, and loss of agricultural land and open space.

The TVA board has taken a stance to protect some land for wildlife corridors, reduce some water pollution, and leave some land for public use. We should be thankful that this board has taken interest in serving the public interest.

Hank Byrnes is development coordinator for Wild South. His telephone number is 256-974-6166.

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