Recent comments

  • Grizzly Yearling At Glacier National Park Died From Lacerated Jugular Vein   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I would rather be dead than have to go to the bronx zoo too!

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I was also at Acadia over the week end. Although not there specifically to see the effects of Bill, I was fully aware of the Bill's impact. Signs, warnings, and rangers were ever present warning about Bill's potential. In fact, I was on the other side of the island that afternoon, witnessing again people ignoring Ranger's warnings about crossing Seawall Causway, refusing to leave the Seawall picnic area and getting angry that the Park Service had the nerve to close the area. We did get to Thunder hole the next day - when again people were all over the same rocks and again ignoring the same warnings about the sea's potential that led to tragedy the day before. I agree - if we choose to take risks, then we must live with that choice - the individual is responsible. It's just too bad that the decision of an adult entrusted with the care of a child was so wrong.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    From my understanding of Wal-Mart's business practices, they will often scoop up land before they have any assurance that they can build on the site. That's usually contingent on a good price.

    This was the store site I was talking about, in Hercules, California. The city had originally setup up this shopping area for a 64,000 square foot building, but Wal-Mart's initial plans were for a 143,000 square foot store. The city even tried using eminent domain to buy the land back for $16.6M, but apparently that got overturned by a judge; it was something about the city not demonstrating that it could achieve higher tax revenues which is key to a city being able to enforce eminent domain. As of now I don't think ground has broken. I haven't really heard anything recently other than it being stuck in court.

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/news/hercules_vs__wal_mart/Content?oid=317525

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/17/HOGGDO3HED1.DTL

    They're fighting really hard with this one. Even though here's a case where the city and the local population have made it clear they don't want it, I think they're spending all this money on legal fees simply because they don't want to be told they can't build it.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    So, if your neighbor sells his land next door and the new owner is going to build a sewage treatment plant, that is OK? Its a private deal after all!

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    To 'I feel your pain!' - in this case it was NOT government owned land nor part of any "National Parks" or "National forest." And Anonymous - the county voted to let WalMart build there, not to allow the land sale - granted Walmart would not have bought the land without the approval to build - but, this is AMERICA. If Walmart didn't think they would make money there, they wouldn't want the land - I would bet that it IS a good place for a Walmart...
    I am not a fan of the walmartization of the nation or the dwindling of places of honor - the government COULD have stepped in and offered more money and BOUGHT the land, they didn't. But to just arbitrarily say that Joe can't build here because Mary doesn't like it ???? I think city/county councils abuse their rights as it is - less government is better government (that was Reagan, not me).

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Does anyone in America care about anything but money. Cash for clunkers. First time homeowners. Bail out the banks. Too big to fail. National health care..... I think soon I should be able to make a living by just selling my vote to the highest bidder!

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    While it was a private transaction, local zoning regs came into play that the board had to address, and apparently one required approval of a variance to allow such a large supercenter.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Isn't anything in this country worth protecting anymore??? What, we have a miserable 1% of all land protected & we tell the Amazon indians to stop cutting down the rainforest and be more responsible - oh wait a minute we do a much worse job of protecting anything in this country. Poor Teddy Roosevelt is probably turning over in his grave in disgust!

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    If this was just a "private transaction between a buyer and a seller", why did the Orange County Board of Supervisors have to vote on it??

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Do you still want to shop at Wal-Mart? I'll think twice before I do! In my area there are many alternatives. How can these government officials vote to build on this historically significant land? Have they no pride? Have they no patriotic feelings? Their action is very disturbing.

  • "Wilderness Wal-Mart" Near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Gets Go-Head From Virginia Officials   5 years 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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 27 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.