Friday, April 27, 2007

Worrying about the land

When I first came to Western North Carolina in the mid-1970s, I was suprised at how developed it was. I had expected large stretches of wilderness but found that every mountain cove had homes in it. Despite that, in Black Mountain, where I lived then, and in other areas, you could ride a few miles out of town and find nothing but old farms and a few small cabins, and feel free of civilization for awhile.

No more. The area around Black Mountain is filled with large new developments, in areas I'd never have expected to see fancy homes going in.

Now that I live several counties west, where development was rare when we first started visiting here, we are shocked to see large tracts of land being cut and roads going in for multi-lot developments. We wonder how the roads will be able to handle the number of people who could live here in the future, if houses go up on all those lots.

Environment North Carolina has released a new report that says thousands of acres of forests and farmlands in NC are being lost to development every year; two million acres in the last 20 years and they expect over two million acres more by 2027. In Western NC, according to this Asheville Citizen-Times story about the report, developed land has increased 44 per cent in the last two decades and will increase by another 22 percent in the next 20 years.

We all need wilderness to feed our souls. In the future, will our children only be able to find it in managed parks?

Note also, Environment North Carolina's photo gallery on Flickr, lots of photos contributed by the photographers. Lovely, and a reminder of what could be lost.

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