Scenic Highways Bill Goes To Governor

The state Senate sent the governor a bill Tuesday to create a scenic highways program in Mississippi, similar to a law that protects the state's most picturesque streams.

The House had added the scenic highways proposal to a Senate bill clarifying building height restrictions along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Senate agreed to the addition and sent the bill on to Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Senate Highways Committee Chairman Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, said adoption of the program would make the state eligible for federal funds to beautify and advertise some of the scenic drives to the millions of people a year who pass through Mississippi on vacation.

The 1999 Legislature created a statewide program for protecting the most scenic and least altered waterways. Instead of restricting activities, the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks works with landowners to preserve streamside forests and do other things to protect waterways and the life they support.

Dearing said the scenic highways would be "a tourism draw.''

The bill says a 19-member board would review applications for the scenic highway designation.

Congress created the scenic highways program as part of a nationwide effort to protect roadways with scenic, historic, cultural or recreational significance.