Posted on May 10, 2004
BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn.- U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr., (R-TN) today participated in the ceremonial signing of the ALCOA Relicensing Settlement Agreement at the Calderwood Overlook in Blount County. Since 1913, ALCOA has owned and operated four dams providing power to its plants in Blount County. The license for the hydroelectric facility expires in February, and a critical element of obtaining a 40-year operating license renewal is the land agreement signed today. The agreement includes provisions that could add 6,000 acres of land to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or the National Forest and make another 4,000 acres immediately available for outdoor recreation. "After seven years of hard work, an agreement has come forward that will save thousands of good-paying jobs at the Aluminum Company of America plants in Blount County - and at the same time provide recreational opportunities on thousands of acres of ALCOA mountain land for canoeists, hikers and fishermen," Alexander said. "And, of importance to all of us who enjoy the outdoors in East Tennessee and North Carolina, this agreement should help to create fuller lake reservoirs during the summer recreation season." "Alcoa's work in East Tennessee brings over $376 million to the region annually," said Congressman Duncan. "The greatest impact of this agreement will be felt from the preservation of that tremendous economic presence and ensuring the continued employment of the two thousand workers who rely upon Alcoa's Blount County operations for their livelihood." This agreement has been seven years in the making and represents the cooperative effort of the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies representing Tennessee and North Carolina, local governments, numerous non-governmental organizations, homeowners' associations and individual citizens. The land swap will transfer 100 acres of flooded areas of land within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in exchange for 186 acres of biologically sensitive land originally intended to be a part of park lands but currently owned by ALCOA. After the land swap occurs, ALCOA will grant a permanent easement on 6,000 acres of land located in Blount County, Tennessee, and Swain County, North Carolina, to the Tennessee Nature Conservancy. The conservancy will then have the option to buy the land and could then sell it to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Alexander recently introduced S. 2319 asking Congress to approve the land swap, an action necessary to fully implement the agreement.