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Trail supporters criticize Cawthorn for 'communist' allegation

The two non-profits most responsible for making the Ecusta Trail a reality criticized a remark by U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn that called the rails to trails program "super communist."

“For 14 years our board members have worked EXTREMELY hard to make this project the non-partisan, community building initiative that it has become,” the Friends of the Ecusta Trail said in a statement. “Our board excels in recruiting members from both sides of the political aisle as we realize we can do more when we work together. … We find it shameful for a politician to use his voice to grand-stand to a party by spreading false, unfounded allegations.”

After the Lightning published the story about the remark, Cawthorn's office said the congressman "criticized the organization 'Rails to Trails,' not the Ecusta Trail project."
Conserving Carolina also issued a statement reacting to Cawthorn’s statement and pointing out that, in a major boost for the trail, the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners had endorsed the project Monday night.
“To call a trail that is enthusiastically supported by so many independent, local businesses and partners from across the political spectrum a ‘communist’ project is a statement that could not be further from the truth,” the land conservancy said. “The vote last night by the Transylvania Board of Commissioners to sign a letter of support for the Ecusta Trail only further demonstrates the strength of community support. In addition, the trail is backed by nearly 400 donors and over 350 volunteers, who are excited to see it come to fruition. We intend to continue working with our community members and elected leaders, regardless of any political affiliation, to advance a project that brings our community together.”
Both organizations noted that the trail enjoys broad bipartisan support and has been officially endorsed by Henderson County, the City of Hendersonville, the Town of Laurel Park, the Village of Flat Rock, the City of Fletcher, the Brevard and Henderson County Chambers of Commerce, the Henderson and Transylvania County Tourism Development Authorities and many other businesses and non-profits across the region. All of these statements and letters of support are proudly displayed on our website.
“What makes Cawthorn’s statements even more troubling is the fact that he met with business and political leaders from Transylvania County less than a year ago and communicated strong support of the Ecusta Trail,” the Friends of Ecusta Trail said. “Since that meeting, Madison Cawthorn has never approached our board for additional information.”
Conserving Carolina said: “The Ecusta Trail could not have advanced this far without the strong support of community members and elected leaders from both sides of the aisle. We are deeply grateful for the support of the Boards of Commissioners of Henderson and Transylvania Counties, the City Councils of Brevard, Hendersonville and Laurel Park, former N.C. Rep. Chuck McGrady, current N.C. Sen. Chuck Edwards and N.C. Rep. Tim Moffitt.”