I was appalled to learn that the Senate passed a bill (35-12) to cut down more trees in North Carolina for billboard companies to allow motorists to view their billboards longer. In exchange for being able to cut 375 feet of trees away from their advertising billboards versus the current standard 250 feet, they will have stiffer fines to pay for exceeding this limit. However, in the past year to date, at least 50 cases of illegal tree cutting around billboards has occurred. It sounds like to me that the billboard companies have simply gotten their way. If you don’t pass it such that we can have that extra swath of trees to cut down, illegal cutting will occur (not to say it’s the billboard company—but who else? might do this? Committed drivers who can’t stand the blocked view that they take it upon themselves to cut the trees away because they can’t see how long it takes to get to the next gas station?). The billboard companies must say “We need passengers to see our ads longer. Studies show that the longer someone sees an ad, the more likely they’ll remember.” Personally as a passenger along I-40 or any other NC highway, I would like to remember the beautiful landscape that we cherish in North Carolina. It’s not just the beautiful wildflowers as a part of that state project, but the trees that adorn our landscape as well. I think our trees are a major selling point for our state….not the ads on the billboards that are frankly ugly, and not worth spending the extra few seconds for viewing with the extra 125 feet.
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