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Balance growth to prosper, preserve natural beauty

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By Mandy Powers Norell

Our kayaks round a bend in the Catawba River – and we see it. A flashing streak hitting the water, a splash and then the powerful wings coming into focus as they pull the bald eagle up with a squirming snake in its talons.

We all sit there stunned for a moment. Then, we’re all talking at once, amazed at what we’ve just seen only a few miles from where we live and work.

My children run back down the trail to me, chattering, “Mom, it’s so big!”

I run after them, and they’re shussing me so we don’t scare it off – a red and yellow back box turtle that’s still drawn up on the trail when we reach it.

And as I drive home two hours later after a long hike with butterflies, redbirds and beautiful wild flowers and a picnic on the lawn in front of the sculpture of Andy on his horse, my daughter asks, “When can we come back?”

How fortunate we are to have Andrew Jackson Park so nearby.

We walk along the old locks at Landsford Canal, and then through an opening in the trees, and we see them – the beautiful and endangered rocky shoals spider lilies.

And I stand back and watch with pride as my friends from Columbia marvel at the lilies’ beauty, at the wildness of the river, at the wonder of the locks they never knew existed anywhere in South Carolina.

We’re so blessed to live in a district with beautiful parks like Andrew Jackson State Park, Ebenezer Park on Lake Wylie, Landsford Canal, Brattonsville and the Anne Close Greenway.

We’re so blessed that even our daily drive to work means a drive through beautiful, rolling wooded hills and scenic farms. And that we can still pick our own strawberries and peaches and sweet corn.

Since 1732, my family and our neighbors have farmed this land, depended on this land – and loved this land. They have plowed this land, planted it and raised cattle on it.

They have built their homes and raised their families on it. And when their time on earth was through, they returned their earthly bodies to this land that gave them so much.

Today, I drink and bathe in water from the same Catawba River my family and our neighbors depended on for hundreds of years. I plant in the same soil. And I love this land, just as they did.

Our district is unquestionably beautiful -- that’s why so many of our families have chosen to make it our home for generations.

And that’s why more and more people want to come here and make this beautiful place their home.

And as they move in, we see again, through their eyes, the wondrous natural beauty of our district.

But the strains of development are creating new challenges for all of us.

Upstream in North Carolina, fertilizers and parking lot run-off are polluting our Catawba River.

Our river has been designated the most endangered river in the country, not because of its condition today, but because our methods of handling development mean it will become more polluted unless we act quickly to correct the mistakes we have made.

Our roads and highways are becoming more and more like Highway 51 in Pineville – congested and anything but scenic.

And we’re in danger of destroying the very things that make Fort Mill and Lancaster so attractive to people moving from the Charlotte area.

I want to see our district prosper, but I also want to see us preserve the beauty and history of our area.

I want us to manage our growth responsibly. I want our state to help us maintain and expand our parks. I want us to protect the beauty of our streams, rivers, forests and farms.

And I know that with hard work and common sense, we can have growth and preserve that beauty and history.

And if you allow me to serve you in the South Carolina Senate, you can be assured that I’ll fight to find a balance with the growth we must have to prosper and the beauty and history the people of District 16 cherish so much.