Who knew about the view? It has a value, too.
That’s what we’re learning from the men and women working on an ambitious new project in the county that could benefit us all by attracting more visitors to the area.
This week we checked in on the progress being made on the Hwy 73 preservation project. This effort to combine geographic features of the Sandhills and Piedmont with cultural and historic aspects of the area is still going strong, according to Sandhills Area Land Trust Consultant Jesse Wimberley.
Wimberley has teamed up with Richmond County Cooperative Extension Agent Paige Burns and Richmond County Planning and Zoning Director of GIS James Armstrong to strengthen the relationship between landowners along U.S. Highway 73 and the organizations that offer programs to foster economic goals and culturally historic goals. This project is part of the Sandhills Area Land Trust’s (SALT) effort to preserve the history and natural resources along scenic by-ways in North Carolina.
One main goal is to encourage new economic development in rural areas through the promotion of the scenic by-way, and to draw tourist dollars into the area.
When Wimberley speaks of the preservation effort, he uses a term many people may not be familiar with: view-shed.
“As people travel along the road, they have a very positive experience,” said Wimberley. “It makes you feel better. It induces you to feel like you want to see more — you want to explore. It makes the whole experience pleasurable.”
Wimberley hopes to help landowners expand the “view-shed” by implementing strategies to increase land value and to entice businesses to locate along Highway 73.
“It will have a accumulative effect if we set up the climate for business growth,” said Wimberley.
One strategy Wimberley aims for is to place a map in the hands of people who are interested in the area.
“I want to create a hard copy map,” said Wimberley. “It will be something you can pick up and it will have all three scenic byways (in this area of the state). I hope it will catch your eye. Then for more details you would go to the website.”
Wimberley said the website should allow visitors to the area to create a personalized tour tailored to their interests.
“For instance, if you like birdwatching, you would put that in and the website would tell you where to stop along the way, where good viewing spots were,” said Wimberley.
Tourists with time and money to spend may enjoy a trip to a local vineyard, later stop by a rural peach farm, or just enjoy the fall colors as they dress up Richmond County’s countryside in the fall.
At a kickoff event for the project last fall, Burns said, “This project will build on that sense of community and share it with others who are seeking to experience something new and different off the beaten path. Ultimately, the Scenic By-way project seeks to promote a beautiful and little known part of Richmond County, protecting what makes it special and yet bringing economic benefits to those who are fortunate enough to live and own businesses there.”
We like the mix of preservation and innovation.