Jackson County leadership did not appropriate $150,000 to $200,000 for a countywide landslide inventory. County Manager Chuck Wooten feared the imminent hazards caused by taking a chunk that size out of the budget more than the potential hazards that might be abated by the study. A program already underway gained support following more than fifty landslides that occurred in January, 2013. The request for funding in this year’s budget is follow-through. Had the money been approved – and it still may be – the county would have hired a couple geophysicists who, due to state funding cuts, were laid off in the middle of a 2011 landside study in WNC. Maps for only four counties were completed at the time.

I reiterate, we could transfer responsibility for the costs to the private sector by making homeowners liable for any damage they cause downhill. But that’s too easy, and one cannot say that without appearing callous and unegalitarian.