Scenic roads no more? Temporary rules would shave trees off of NC roadsides

Roadways in North Carolina could very well end up looking a lot more barren and clipped, once the effects of the pro-billboard industry law passed by the N.C. General Assembly last year go into effect this spring.

Today, the N.C. Rules Review Committee (a slightly obscure rule-approving group in the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearing)  approved temporary rules to allow clear-cutting of tens of thousands of trees in publicly-owned roadsides in order to make billboards more visible, according to the N.C. Sierra Club, which has been a chief opponent of the legislation.

The changes will be particularly disastrous in Western North Carolina, where many of the interstates are flanked by old-growth forests, said Molly Diggins of the N.C. Sierra Club. The new rules also don’t require replanting of trees.

Here’ssome before and after shots that the Sierra Club obtained from the N.C. Department of Transportation through a public records request , showing what the new rules would mean on a stretch of highway in Hendersonville. (DOT will be the state agency to issue permits for the tree cutting).







The cutting could begin as early as this spring. DOT estimates that $12 million worth of trees owned by the public on publicly-owned roadsides could be chopped down, according to Diggins. And, she said, the state already spends $5 to $6 million beautifying its highways, an effort that will be drastically undercut by the new laws passed by the GOP-led state legislature last year.





  1. JTS72

    January 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    What I want to know is what will be the cost of cutting all these trees??

  2. HunterC

    January 19, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Can’t citizens halt a rule from the RRC with a petition of just 10 people?

    Or can a legislator file a bill to disapprove the rule at least holding it up temporarily?

    I know there are ways to temporarily halt rules approved by the RRC. Off the top of my head, I’m not as sure about “temporary” rules.

  3. Thomas Loy Bumgarner

    January 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I am all for commerce and bussiness but this is just plain stupid. Bet the Republicans want every inch of NC to be one continous city literally running from Manteo/New Bern/Wilmington all the way to the TN/VA/SC state lines.

  4. Jack

    January 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    The cornerstone of the initiative would be the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which called for control of outdoor advertising, including removal of certain types of signs, along the Nation’s growing Interstate System and the existing Federal-aid primary system.

    Years later, on April 28, 1988, the House of Representatives held a ceremony honoring Mrs. Johnson. She was praised for many accomplishments, but especially for her focus on making the United States a more beautiful country.

  5. Jim

    January 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

    The BB companies have used an economic downturn to enrich themselves. They made the pitch that increased visibility to their signs would help the economy, and they are subject ot too many regulations that cost jobs. Most of the Legislators didn’t stop to consider what they were voting for. We need to contact them and let them know that we do not want barren roadsides and we as taxpayers do not want to be subsidizing the BB industry by giving away our trees. They want everything free, it will hurt our travel and tourism industry in the long run.
    Just my two cents.

  6. George Doctoroe

    January 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    This is absolutely outrageous. If anything will persuade the populace to throw the idiots out of office, this could do it. One major thing North Carolina has going for it , is it’s scenic byways and beautiful roadside forests!
    Is the WRAL news team covering this story too? It deserves to be heard across the state!

  7. mary johnson

    February 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Physical, moral, social, and economic disaster in the making…..how can human beings want to wipe out more trees? Plants and trees make the oxygen that we need to breathe. They lower temperatures when the planet is getting hotter, etc……I think we are wired to destroy ourselves.

    I personally don’t understand why there isn’t a movement to PLANT as many trees in as many places as possible, to cool down this increasingly HOT planet.

    Mary Johnson

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