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Opinion Letters Valuable resource not being utilized

The North Carolina geological survey landslide hazard map prepared for Macon County is a valuable resource for our county planners, citizens and property owners. The considerable cost developing this resource has been borne by the taxpayers of North Carolina. The Macon County Planning Board has spent extensive time and effort reviewing the information and discussing how it could be used.

The development of this map utilizes considerable fieldwork and data collection on the ground by North Carolina geological survey geologist with over 60 days “on the ground effort.” Over 600 locations were investigated in that aspect of the study.

Serial aerial orthophotography reviewing studies from the years 1954, 1953, 1998, 2005 were included in this investigation. Light detecting and ranging digital elevation data (LiDAR) was utilized to develop a base map for on site data to be embedded upon. This combination is the best available mapping technology on a countywide scale, even in comparison to existing topographical maps and digital elevation maps.

Stability Index Mapping information is useful in showing where landslides and the resulting debris flow would more likely occur. Data from existing soil survey maps of the Macon County were also utilized to calibrate Stability Index Maps according to where slope disturbances have already happened in the past. It took over $500,000 in taxpayer funding and nearly a year to accomplish this project.

In a recent survey, the majority of Macon County residents believe data like this could help mitigate hazardous situations and should be utilized in some format. A minority of property owners believe this could interfere with future development and property values. With the considerable funding, work and effort used to develop these maps, it would be a shame not to utilize them in a useful manner. It appears that our county has decided to shelve this study. That sounds very much like big government at the federal level instead of a common sense approach that our county officials could represent.

Tom Harris — Franklin, N.C.


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