Sep 7 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) applauded Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Department of the Interior for releasing $4 million that was appropriated to Swain County in 2012 but never transferred. Senator Tillis has worked alongside Secretary Zinke and his staff to lead the effort in securing the $4 million that was appropriated to them as part of a $52 million settlement owed to Swain County by the federal government and has submitted appropriations requests for FY 17 and FY 18 to secure the remaining $35.2 million.

“I want to thank Secretary Zinke and his team for their leadership to ensure Swain County receives their long-overdue payment that is owed to them by the federal government,” said Senator Tillis. “This is an issue I have been working on since I was sworn in to the U.S. Senate, and I will continue to work with Swain County, Congress, and the Department of the Interior to advocate for the rest of the money they are owed is appropriated and repaid to them as promised.”

"One of my top priorities as your Secretary of the Interior is making sure the federal government is a good neighbor and a good land manager for federal lands like national parks and battlefields. Making sure Swain County received the funds from the Department of the Interior  was key," said Secretary Zinke. "Senators Tillis and Burr and Rep. Meadows made sure this project did not get lost in the paperwork. I'm grateful for their tenacity on behalf of North Carolina." 


In the early 1940’s the federal government flooded several communities in Swain County to build the Fontana Dam. In 1943 the federal government promised to rebuild the 30-mile North Shore Road that was flooded to build the dam. The government failed to deliver on that promise and in 2007 agreed to a cash settlement of $52 million.

In 2010 the Department of the Interior, Swain County, the State of North Carolina and Tennessee Valley Authority entered into a “Memorandum of Agreement” to “settle any and all claims under the 1943 Agreement.” To date, the county has only received $12.8 million. 

The $4 million that is being released today comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 that included the North Shore Road in the prioritized project list for the Park Service. This money was never appropriated because Department of the Interior argued that had they did not have the legal authority to do so.