Congressman Mark Meadows

Representing the 11th District of North Carolina

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Rep. Meadows’ Statement on Swain County Funding

Sep 7, 2017
Press Release

RELEASE:
Rep. Meadows’ Statement on Swain County Funding

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) joined Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in a press conference, announcing the Department of Interior’s decision to release an additional $4 million that the federal government has owed Swain County, NC since World War II.

During the 1930’s and 1940’s, Swain County, NC relinquished most of its public land to the federal government in order to assist with building projects that were part of World War II. The land forfeiture forced hundreds of families to move from their homes to clear the way for the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Fontana Lake reservoir—which became the hub for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manhattan Project. The Fontana Lake reservoir replaced a road called ‘Highway 288’—the only accessible road to the old community.

As part of the exchange, the federal government promised to build Swain County a new road that would replace Highway 288 and provide a route to those communities. Now, decades later, the promised “road” has never been completed--and is now known amongst the community as the “Road to Nowhere.”

In 2010, the Department of Interior agreed to a settlement that would pay Swain County $52 million. Over 7 years later, Swain County is still owed $39.2 million of those funds. In June of this year, Rep. Meadows introduced a bill that would require the government to pay back $35.2 million of the money—and today’s announcement from Secretary Zinke, releasing the additional $4 million, will surely pave the way for Swain County to finally receive the full $39.2 million owed.

“The release of an additional $4 million by the Department of Interior is a critical step toward resolving the unpaid "Road to Nowhere" settlement that Swain County should have received long ago,” Rep. Meadows said. “Fortunately, President Trump’s administration has shown a tremendous willingness to make this situation right. I want to particularly thank Interior Secretary Zinke for his work and support in these efforts, along with the Swain County Board of Commissioners in my district who have poured in countless hours into helping make this happen. My hope is that we can now move forward and bring a swift end to a problem that should have been resolved years ago.”