Scenic America, the only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to preserving the natural beauty and distinctive character of America's communities and countryside, today released its annual list of ten of the nation's most threatened scenic landscapes.
Each Last Chance Landscape is a place of beauty or distinctive community character chosen because it faces imminent and potentially irrevocable harm. However, each of the winners also possesses a potential solution, a "last chance" for people at the local, state and national levels to step forward and preserve their scenic beauty before it's too late.
"Each of our Last Chance Landscapes has a story to tell," said Scenic America's President, Meg Maguire. "We hope that we can help write a much happier ending for each of them."
Some of the threats highlighted in this year's list include airport expansion affecting four historic New England towns; cell towers jutting their unsightly necks into the Potomac River viewshed; forest clear-cutting erasing the visual context of an historic 19th century southern plantation; and sprawling residential and commercial development stripping the Blue Ridge Parkway of its spectacular views.
Maguire emphasized that Scenic America does not seek to put an end to growth or development. "Development can be done in a way that doesn't destroy the character of a place or the natural beauty that drew people there to begin with," she said. Nominators for each winning landscape have outlined ways to solve that community's problems.
Scenic America is dedicated to the principle that "change is inevitable; ugliness is not."
This year's Last Chance Landscapes are:
-- Historic Towns of Concord, Lexington, Lincoln and Bedford, Massachusetts
-- Creole Nature Trail National Scenic Byway, Louisiana
-- Glen Mary Plantation Historic Site, Georgia
-- Schuylkill Marsh, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
-- Lower Marks Creek Rural Landscape, North Carolina
-- Jordan River Conservation Corridor, Utah
-- Middle Potomac Scenic Corridor, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
-- State Highway 99 Corridor, San Joaquin Valley, California
-- Blue Ridge Parkway Viewshed, Roanoke County, Virginia
-- Gaviota Coast, California
Maguire emphasized that each of the ten landscapes chosen highlights a problem that may be occurring in dozens of communities across the country.
"Unfortunately, much of the natural beauty and distinctive character of America's cities, towns and natural areas is disappearing in a sea of uncontrolled, cookie-cutter residential development and shopping malls," Maguire said. "Haphazard growth gobbles up open space at a frightening pace. Cell towers and enormous billboards -- the "litter-on-a-stick" of the American highway - puncture scenic vistas. The threats posed to this year's landscapes are an illustration of what's happening to communities all over America, every day of the year."
Scenic America is a national, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to preserve and enhance the scenic character of America's communities and countryside. Since 1978, Scenic America has helped citizens and public officials in thousands of communities nationwide protect their scenic heritage. Scenic America advocates for federal, state and local laws and policies that support scenic conservation and community livability.
For more information about Scenic America and a detailed description of the threats posed to each of this year's Last Chance Landscapes, please visit www.scenic.org.
Contact: Meg Maguire, President, Scenic America, Suite 300, 801 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, D.C. 20003.