Rep. Meadows’ Statement on Swain County Funds Included in Interior Spending Plan
Washington, D.C. – This week, the Department of Interior announced plans to commit part of their FY 18 funds to the overdue remaining balance of $35.2 million owed to Swain County, NC, from the previous settlement agreement with the Federal government. The decision from Secretary Zinke leaves Swain County on the brink of receiving the entirety of their remaining outstanding money.
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, Swain County, NC, relinquished part of its public land to the federal government in order to assist with building projects that were part of World War II. The Fontana Lake reservoir replaced a road called ‘Highway 288’—the only accessible road to a community that generations of Swain County residents called home. 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 February 2010, the Secretary of the Interior signed an agreement to provide a settlement of $52.0 million to Swain County, NC, in lieu of constructing the North Shore Road. As of September 2017, the National Park Service has paid $16.8 million, after Interior Secretary Zinke authorized $4 million to Swain County. Secretary Zinke brought the unpaid amount down to $35.2 million. The Department of Interior has now chosen to use a portion of their FY 18 funds to pay off the remaining balance.
Rep. Mark Meadows released the following statement:
“When I arrived in Congress in 2013, on day one, my office began working with the Department of Interior to see to it that the residents of Swain County receive the money they should have been paid long ago. Fortunately, since he took office last year, President Trump’s administration has shown a tremendous willingness to make this situation right. Secretary Zinke announced the release of $4 million toward the unpaid settlement last year—and now, the Department of Interior is officially proposing a full delivery of the remaining $35.2 million, completing the unpaid funds due to Swain County.
Once again, President Trump’s administration has shown an unparalleled commitment to keeping promises, righting the wrongs of past administrations and fighting for the forgotten men and women. I want to thank the President and Secretary Zinke for their unparalleled willingness to resolve this issue, and my hope is that we can now bring a swift end to a problem that should have been resolved years ago.”