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Pinback with words "President Clinton Designates the New River, Ashe County, NC, July 30, 1998"“Officials said it was the first time a president had come to [the West Jefferson] area, best known for Christmas trees, crafts and musicians like Doc Watson, who lives in nearby Deep Gap.

“Many of the people attending the event had fought a generation ago to stop a hydroelectric dam project that would have flooded 40,000 acres in northwest North Carolina. In the early 1960s, Appalachian Power Co. of Roanoke, Va., proposed damming the New River’s South Fork, flooding more than 40,000 acres. President Ford settled the dispute in 1976 when he named a 26-mile stretch of the South Fork a National Scenic River….”
— Associated Press

President Clinton, taking a break from the Monica Lewinsky tumult, went on at some length in designating the New as one of the first 14 American Heritage Rivers.

And of course Hugh Morton was there.