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CNN Today

Big Cities Encroaching on America's State Parks

Aired August 25, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sprawl is endangering some of the nation's state parks. Not so long ago, most were out in the middle of nowhere. But now, the big city is creeping closer. A new report found the one of the biggest affected areas is in Georgia.

Here's CNN's Brian Cabell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Etowah Indian Mounds in northern Georgia at a state park are some of the best preserved Indian ruins in the United States. But year by year, development is creeping closer to and threatening this archaeological treasure.

Fifty miles south at Sweetwater Creek State Park, that park superintendent Vince Taylor has a similar problem. It's under assault from the outside: trash, discarded by residents, whose homes are adjacent to the park; yard clippings tossed as though the park was an extension of their backyards. Homeowners, of course, are delighted with the park. Officials would much prefer having a buffer zone between the neighborhoods and the park. Worst of all, they say, are the high-density dwellings going up.

VINCE TAYLOR, SUPERINTENDENT, SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK: Apartments, multifamily-type development, can be a little bit of a nightmare for a park management, because you have all these folks that don't have a yard at home, so what is the yard for them? It's the local park.

CABELL: Don't misunderstand, he says, people are welcome here. But state parks were intended primarily as getaways for hiking and fishing, visits of a few hours or more. Increasingly, because of urban sprawl and traffic, they're becoming more like city parks, green areas in the midst of development.

BILL CAHILL, FRIENDS OF SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK: I think the only solution to the thing is the counties and local municipalities that border these parks now are going to have to start coming through with some good planning to make sure that the developments that go in around these parks are going to be complementary to the park.

CABELL: In some cases, officials worry, it may already be too late. But for the Canadian geese that frequent these waters, conservationists say any attempt to stop urban encroachment on this habitat would be welcome.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Douglasville, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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