Recent comments

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I'd note that the Forest Service is under the purview of the Dept of Agriculture and has a far different mandate than the NPS. Their mandate is more in line with the Bureau of Land Management in regards to commercial uses such as timber harvesting, mining, or collecting. Sometimes they strike a balance with some areas under their jurisdiction as designated wilderness. Many of the prime ski resorts in the US are on Forest Service land and numerous pricey vacation homes have been built with long term leases on the plots.

    There's probably no place in the country where the FS has such a direct impact on residential communities as the Lake Tahoe Basin. They own plots of land between homes and own much of the land private residences sit on. Still - the Lake Tahoe area is one where they have pretty much stopped any commercial timber harvesting altogether. My understanding is that there were attempts to declare the area a National Park in the early 20th century, only to be shot down in Congress. This was long before the large scale development we see in the are today - as there were some vacation homes as well as logging companies that were running out of trees to cut.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    CivilWarBuff, you might be more acquainted with the protocol - what would happen if Walmart's builders happen to bulldoze up some buried relics? Would there be a review? Would it halt the project? Would it become an "archaeological site"? Seems to me this could be a real possibility.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    RE: reference to Jimi W. "This is not a government problem"... Wrong! Even if the land was owned and deemed "National Parks" or "National forest" it can still and will be sold if "the money is right" Case and point: Tonto National forest in Arizona. Highway 87 north from Mesa, AZ approximatley 17 miles N.E., you travel through the Fort McDowell Indian reservation and the next sign you came upon was the "Welcome to Tonto National forest"... Not any more. The sign is gone and now... There are several roads cut through the desert wilderness that traverse the highway going up to prime real estate and upscale stucco homes dotting the once majestic mountain views of Four Peaks mountain. Just another one of those "a good deal for everyone" that MOST everyone looses and a developer capitalizes on the opportuntiy. Though not really his fault as we the public must have been a sleep at the wheel. Where were the tree hugger's when we needed them... Oh thats right it's the desert, no trees, just 100 year old saguaro cactus.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    If it were a simple land sale, between buyer and seller, I would go with all the landowner-rights arguments. But this is *not* a simple sale - a special use permit had to be granted. This development is way out of proportion with the existing community and the character of the historical site. And as far as the "taking" of private land, what about the concept of "eminent domain"? Many times I've seen private land taken from the owners so that the town can build commercial space. The truth of the matter is private ownership is treated as an elastic concept - your town WILL take your land if it is convenient and profitable to do so! We shouldn't blame Walmart - at least they're honest about their motives. The Orange County Board of Supervisors have sold their collective souls and our history for tax revenue. Unbelievable! I wonder how it feels to be morally bankrupt.

    Many of you folks are used to wide-open Western spaces. It helps to understand the pressure of high density. I'm sorry to have to tell you the only truly open spaces in Virginia are those designated AS parkland. I've lived in Virginia for 30 years and am sad to say I have seen what's left of our open spaces shrink year by year so that greedy developers can make a buck. Unbridled sprawl has taken its toll - the air is bad, the water tastes like chlorinated plastic, and the acreage recently taken (by eminent domain, hello) for highway expansion is truly sinful. And all for money.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    To KevinM:

    Actually, there would be views lost. The Walmart would impede the view from Ellwood, the Union HQ during the battle. Not to mention the light pollution at night and the increase in traffic noise.

    I understand your frustration at the relocation of a gravesite in Oregon. I feel the same way about this site. You should realize that the area where the Walmart is going to be built is also a gravesite. There were hundreds, if not thousands of missing soldiers in the battle, laid to rest in unmarked graves. Who's to say that some are not resting where the development will go. y_p_w is correct in saying that the actual battlefield extends far beyond the park boundaries.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    County governments are allowed to take the size of a development into consideration. Some projects are simply out of scale for the neighborhood. That's what the permit process is supposed to be for.

    Here's the location. Most of what's currently there seems pretty low key right now. From what I understand, part of the outrage isn't that the current boundaries of the NPS land will be disturbed, but that the battleground as a whole spilled out beyond the NPS boundaries and into what's now the proposed Wal-Mart site.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/Story?id=7666961

    Here's the Park Superintendent with a map. You can see that the green areas are the actual park boundaries, while the historic battlefield looks to be far beyond just the park boundaries. I'm guessing that there's hope that some day the NPS boundaries can be extended.

    http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090825/NEWS0101/908250317

    Right now there's a fight over a proposed Wal-Mart in a town near where I live. While it would be a huge revenue source for the city, they're hesitant to approve it because of how it might change the city's character and impact traffic in a tight area.

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 38 weeks ago

    There was another suicide at New River Gorge Bridge on August 19. The victim this time was a 28-year old Ohio man.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I guess I do not understand the outrage here. Without being disrespectful, this is private property. To deny the right to use that in a reasonable way would be an unconstitutional "taking" of the rights of property owners. Last fall, there was the issue of oil/mineral leases contemplated next to parks in Utah. Those bothered me a lot more than the current dispute. In Utah, people go to the parks for the views, which would be lost. Here, there are no views lost; the battlefield still serves its purpose as a place to respect and honor sacrifices made by prior generations.
    The Walmart hatred is off base. If anything, Walmart has been nicer than they needed to be in many ways, far nicer than almost every other big box store. I have not heard of others donating millions of acres of land for preservation like Walmart has.
    If you want to discuss disrespect, consider the treatment of my ancestors. The land containing the pioneer cemetary in or near Junction City, Oregon has been purchased by an energy company, which relocated the graves and you now need special permission to go there. Once there, you encounter an overgrown jumble where you have to kick the grass and weeds aside to try to read the markers.
    The Battlefield is intact. The constitution has been honored.

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thanks for writing this. It brought tears to my eyes. I knew the deceasesd and it's nice to hear your positive out take instead of the comment before yours.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    A very sad day, indeed. I was hoping that the Board of Supervisors would be more sensitive to public opinion as well as historical significance. The preservation of our nation's history and the growth of the local economy need not be mutually exclusive. A study was published in the Fredericksburg paper awhile ago saying how many millions of dollars are brought in by tourists who visit the battlefields. By preserving this land, the county would have sent the message that they care about their history. Now they are just like other counties, who cater to the big corporations at the expense of local businesses (including the tourism industry).

    Back in the 70's, the battlefields in the Fredericksburg area were among my favorites to visit. I actually find it painful to go there now--tons of traffic and rows and rows of strip malls. This latest development only makes it worse.

    I guess I'll be spending more of my time (and money) at Antietam where the local township has had the good sense to see what a treasure they have and to preserve it.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    While the county would have difficulty stopping the sale of the land, they likely have the discretion to deny the permits to build the structures, parking lot, etc. They could have deemed it better for the public interest if wasn't developed (I've seen video of the modest strip mall already there) to the extent Wal-Mart wants it.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    All those who spent time and money opposing the WalMart would have better spent their time and money raising funds to buy the land outright and donate it to the National Park Service. The real issue here is not WalMart. I would have been opposed to any sort of development encroaching on the rural nature of a battlefield whether it was a Walmart, a housing development or a hospital. And it's really not that a battle was fought there. Battles that were fought close to cities then are no longer peaceful places for contemplation. Think of Bull Run with the airplanes from Dulles screaming overhead and Interstate 64 right on its edge. Think of the Alamo, right in the middle of San Antonio. The larger issue is that this country and its open spaces, the very rural Jeffersonian nature of this country are being ruined by too many people and the consequent development.

  • Acadia National Park Superintendent: "The way you could make this park the safest would be to allow no one to use it."   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I salute Acadia Superintendent Sheridan Steele's "balancing act" and the efforts made to inform and protect the public. What more could have been done, other than closing the park altogether?

    Despite all the warnings and precautions, some people were foolish enough to be climbing on slippery rocks at the edge of an ocean boiling with a hurricane's turbulence. When the unthinkable occurs, immediately we start looking for blame and "better ways of doing things" when the blame often belongs to the victims and nobody else.

    The girl's parents are to blame in this instance. They ignored warnings and failed to use common sense. I hope Superintendent Steele and his staff believe this at heart as they deal with the tragic death of that seven-year-old-child.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I understand not wanting a Walmart here - but the article says that "This was a private deal between a private landowner and private business." I sincerely hope that no administration, present or past, will deem itself so allmighty that they can just stop a legal transaction because they don't want that business there or this business here! The federal government should not be in the business of settling such disputes - to me, it is even dubious that the county Boad of Supervisors would have the power to stop a legal sale of property.
    Just because it is a good cause doesn't demand that the federal government step in and sort it out - The people who do not want the store there have every right to lobby Walmart and to offer alternatives but the very war you are trying to conserve was fought over the government telling states and individuals what they could and couldn't do! No need to start another war over it, just work with the land-owner(s) and try to find a solution - this is not a GOVERNMENT problem!

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I agreed with "Someone Who Cares" all the way to the fifth-to-last word. That is the only word I would change, substituting "previous" for "current."

    I smiled when I read this: "'We are optimistic that company officials will see the wisdom of moving elsewhere,' continued Mr. Lighthizer." He must be very optimistic indeed, the most kindly thing that I can say. If it were up to Wal-Mart, their stores would stretch across this country, each one visible from the last, limited in sprawl only by similar ambitions on the part of Home Depot, McDonalds, and the like.

    It was simply too little, too late to save this historic land from development. Without government intervention, or deep-pocketed philanthropic efforts, profits and self-interest (I deleted the word "greed") will overrule any quaint historical and environmental concerns, if any are to be found in today's world of business to begin with.

    That is why we have government, to balance public needs with the drive to make "the almighty dollar." The current administration will have a much better track record at this than the previous one. But again, it was too late for Wilderness Wal-Mart.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Someone who cares, you hit the nail on the head. Wal-mart sees nothing but dollar signs for THEIR registers. Whatever happened to their big campaign they had years ago that they took pride in buying AMERICAN!! Oh yea, they make more money by buying cheap foreign junk. Meanwhile AMERICAN manufacturers suffer. We are now left to buy the foreign junk because the better quality merchandise is not made here anymore thanks to Wal-mart. Thanks Wal-mart for looking out for nobody but yourself.
    [This comment was edited. ]

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    As a native Virginian, I am very disappointed in this decision. Wonder what kind of impact this Wal-Mart will have on the battlefields? One only has to visit Petersburg National Battlefield. You can see the Home Depot (or Lowe's... one of those) from the Dictator trail. Throughout the entire battlefield, the sounds of traffic and Fort Lee permeate what should be hallowed silence.

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 38 weeks ago

    My own adventure is rather recent. I decided to try my luck at night hiking along the River Bluff Trail near Norris State Park, downstream of Norris Dam along the Clinch River in East TN. My goal was to start the hike at dusk and, if it became too dark to see, to use a flashlight.

    Once I entered the forest, however, the canopy quickened the onset of darkness. I needed the flashlight sooner than anticipated. After about a mile of hiking, the white beam turned to dim orange, but I proceeded on. The beam of light then went from dim red-orange to nothing at all. That was it. Total darkness. I had no spare batteries (not a smart thing to do when night hiking).

    Night hiking without a flashlight under a fully enclosed canopy of Eastern Diciduous Biome forests can be a near cave-like experience. I had two choices, spend the night and wait for first light, or put my dog (an Aussie Shepherd mix-breed) on a short leash and trust him to find the route.

    I decided to use my dog, who I knew was very familiar with the trail from many previous hikes. He led me very slowly along the trail, step by step. The slow pace was sufficient to negotiate uneven rocky sections of the trail, and we managed to get past a few locations where trees had fallen across the beaten path.

    This canine seeing-eye technique worked remarkably well, except for one memorable incident when the dog suddenly veered off trail to chase after some unidentified noctural creature. Fortunately, I was able to convince him to change his priorities.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Walmart doesn't care about anything except money. This country has become so focused on greed and how they can line their pockets with the "old mightly dollar" that nothing else matters. I have never had the opportunity to visit any of our national parks on the eastern seaboard, but with corporations like Walmart coming in and taking over, they won't be there for me to visit in the future. I am sorry to say that many of the corporations in this country speak out of both sides of their mouth, including Walmart. They doesn't care about the environment and preserving this nation anymore than the current adminsitration of this country.

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Jim, your right on horses finding there way back from point A to point B and back. Many a drunken cowboy on a horse will tell you the same. Back at the bunkhouse nursing a mean hangover the next day.

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Ray -

    Thanks for the excellent example of how humans can become disoriented when visual reference points are missing. I suspect others can relate similar experiences in dense fog or other limited visibility situations.

    The other interesting aspect of your story is the accuracy of the dogs "navigation." I've read similar tales about horses finding their way "home" in a whiteout.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I was there at the park the day of the drowing and was one of the hundreds who stood along Ocean Drive and watched the Coast Guard pull two of the individuals from the water. Even as the rescue efforts were ongoing, park rangers were still yelling at people to get off the rocks; people who were trying to get a closer look at the rescue! It is amazing how irresponsible some people can be. It is a shame that that young girl died, but her father never should have allowed her to be in that position. As for those who want to blame park officials, you are typical of the ignorant and ill-formed who skirt personal responsibility and want to blame others for [your] stupidity. I live in RI and we have a cliif walk along the ocean in Newport. Recently an individual by-passed fencing and posted signs to "get a better look" at the ocean and he fell and is now a quadriplegic. He is suing the city of Newport. If this lawsuit is successful, the city will close the cliff walk and millions of would-be tourists will have to pay the price for one man's stupidity and ignorance.

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Ray, I do hope you have recorded all your outdoor experiences in some kind of journal. Enough experiences to write book? Especially the sled dog episode.

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Interesting. I was once lost in a whiteout while traveling by dog team over open tundra. My destination was a winter trapping camp perhaps twenty miles inland from the village of Wainwright on the North Slope. We had traveled the route several times over the previous month. I was certain that the dogs were going in the wrong direction and kept giving the lead dog the "gee" (go right) command. There was no visible trail. The leader kept looking back and was probably thinking that I was and idiot. Finally, I decided to let the dogs find the way. Sure enough they pulled me right up to the camp and stopped. I didn't know we were there until I walked to the front of the team to find the entrance to a snowblock shelter. Over the years there were several occasions when my dog team was able to find their way home or to a camp when I would have otherwise been lost.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Well you will find this hard to believe. But here goes- I am the one who built the cabinet he was found in which is now gone, and I am the one who supplied all lof the cyls. that we built the house out of when The Barkers went to Indian Ranch