Land Grabbing in Tucker County
26 posts
10 users
3k+ views
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,916 posts
This article talks about local opposition to land grabbing. Fortunately, the ski industry is not mentioned, but it does reveal how sensitive local citizens are to excessive development in Tucker County.

Elkins Inter-Mountain, April 14, 2005

Commission Supports TCDA's Position

By JULIEANNE COOPER
Staff Writer

The Tucker County Commission unanimously agreed Wednesday to support the Tucker County Development Authority and its petition involving "land grabbing" during the first regular commission meeting for April.
Commissioners were met with a jam-packed agenda and host of guests wishing to address the commission regarding the TCDA's petition, as well as several other regional issues.
Commissioners took several comments from audience members including Davis Mayor Joe Drenning, former commissioner Jerry DiBacco and TCDA member Jerry Flanagan. Drenning said that with any petition, there are those who will oppose it and "pick it apart." He added that there is still some confusion surrounding the petition's intent and reiterated that the purpose is to keep "developable land" out of "government" control. He also thinks the effort will not affect the progress of Corridor H.
Drenning briefly mentioned another circulating petition created by the Friends of the Blackwater, which supports Senate Concurrent Resolution 38, a study of a proposed "High Allegheny" national park that would encompass both Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls State Parks as well as portions of the Monongahela National Forest, Seneca Rocks, the Blackwater Canyon and Canaan Valley.
The opposing petition claims that more than 450 people support the study, but Drenning said 82 percent of those who signed are not Tucker residents and that of the 81 claiming Tucker County as their residence, several are not. He said the TCDA petition has been signed by more than 96 percent of Tucker residents. "Our people are behind this. We aren't letting up," Drenning said.
DiBacco agreed with Drenning's comments and presented his statements regarding the addition of a national park in Tucker County. "I would like to pose one question to those who think that you believe that Tucker County is a prime, choice county, and I along with many other Tucker residents will agree. But my question to those who want to take our property and give it to the government is who do you think was responsible for making this county prime, choice and beautiful?" DiBacco asked.
DiBacco claimed the land was given by "God, and then our parents and grandparents took care of it and nurtured it until the present time. And as I see it, they must have done a super job of it or others would not be flocking here to get a piece of the action." In conclusion, he likened Tucker residents' feelings to those of the Native American Indians. "I, like others, must say that we living here in Tucker County all of our lives truly know how the American Indian must have felt when dealing with the U.S. government after seeing our land being snatched out from under us."
Flanagan, speaking on his own behalf, said the "land grab" is "meant to stop any industrial building along the path of Corridor H and other prime places for industrial and commercial growth as well as an efficient tax base for Tucker County for which schools, emergency services and other programs" receive funds.
So far, hundreds of signatures have been collected and the Parsons City Council, Thomas City Council, Davis City Council, the Tucker County Commission, as well as several others, have pledged their support. While there are those in favor of the petition, there are also those who believe it will have a negative impact.
The Tucker County Planning Commission's letter, which was read aloud by Commission President Sam Eichelberger, indicated the planning commission does not support the petition claiming that "the negative aspect of the petition is of no benefit for Tucker County."
Flanagan proposed "the best course of action" to be taken is for the planning commission be dissolved and the TCDA and County Commission "take the lead in deciding what is best for our county." Commissioners took no action regarding Flanagan's suggestion.
The TCDA has scheduled a meeting today at the Tucker County Senior Citizen's Center in Parsons at 6 p.m.
DWW
April 19, 2005
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
So, I'm not sure I have this straight. Tucker county residents are opposed to the government buying/owning land adjacent to Corridor-H (in a government effort to prevent industrial development along the corridor)? They would rather the land be owned privately and available for development at thier discretion? Why is the government buying (grabbing) this land in the first place (I thought they liked development) - is it a part of a remediation deal with conservationist to prevent sprawl?

Also, it appears that Tucker County residents are opposed to the establishment of a national park? Why is that?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,916 posts
They want to able to sell land to developers such as Bright, and are against groups like the Canaan Valley Institute or the Park Service that try to acquire land for preservation purposes.
SCWVA
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,049 posts
Johnfmh,

May be you can enlighten me. What are the differences between creating a National Forest vs a National Park or a Wildlife Refuge or giving the land to The Canaan Valley Institute?

Couldn't they preserve the land by creating a National Forest? This would allow the people of WV to use their land for recreational purposes? ie: Hunting, Mtn. Biking, camp fires (in nondesignated areas), alcohol consumption, ..... As far as I know, these activities are illegal in NP's, WR's, & the CVI.

I can understand limiting or not allowing development of these areas, but the heavy restrictions that NP, WR, & CVI impose seem to be excessive.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
DWW
April 19, 2005
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Isn't much of the land for the potential NP aready National Forest, State Forest, State Park, WLR, etc?
jimmy
April 19, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
I think there are TWO governments trying to grab the land. Evidently the feds and the county. I think WV law prohibits County Commissions from owning real estate for development, hence the "County Development Agency" is formed by the county commission to act as a "Developer" and receive funding from private as well as public sources. Seems that there's some context missing from the article but I'd guess that the locals would prefer local control of development and an increased tax base. Is this Williams-Sonoma vs. the salamander?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,916 posts
Quote:

Johnfmh,

May be you can enlighten me. What are the differences between creating a National Forest vs a National Park or a Wildlife Refuge or giving the land to The Canaan Valley Institute?






Much of it has to do with hunting--a WV sacred cow. West Virginians are sensitive about losing ancestral hunting lands. National Parks, in general, do not allow hunting. National Forrests and National Wildlife Refuges allow hunting and are therefore much more popular with locals.

However, a compromise exists in the form of a National Preserve. Several of the "national parks" in Alaska are national preserves,
created so that native americans can still hunt in those areas. Why not create a similar type of park in WV, and allow citizens of the state to continue to hunt in those areas during designated seasons?
Roger Z
April 19, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
John-

National preserves- are you referring to the wildlife refuges? Or are national preserves separate from those? The refuges were specifically designed to preserve wildlife for hunting. For instance, apart from boating in June and early July, the next (and perhaps only) popular time to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is late August and September for the sundry hunting seasons up there.

And, according to the census, as of 2000 the population in Tucker County was still declining. I'm guessing a lot of folks that own houses in the Valley own second residences there?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,916 posts
Quote:

John-

National preserves- are you referring to the wildlife refuges?




No, I am referring to National Preserves--a newish National Park entity. Mojave is an example:

http://www.nps.gov/moja/

The key to the National Preserve concept is that it allows for hunting--wv's sacred cow. If Dolly Sods became a National Preserve, hunting would be allowed.

PS National Wildlife Refuges are places for wildlife to live. Hunting is permitted to cull certain populations but the goal is to create sustainable habitats for wildlife. The other missions of the Wildlife Refuge system are recreation (mainly hiking but also Nordic skiing and some mountain biking and horseback riding) and wildlife viewing (i.e. birdwatching). Birdwatchers, btw, are almost as important a constituency for the National Wildlife Refuge System as hunters.
rmcva
April 19, 2005
Member since 01/28/2004 🔗
187 posts
Some don't like the Gov't buying up the land because it will prevent them from establishing new commerical businesses. They don't want - and I'll quote - "another Clarksburg" but the locals would like to be able to make a few more bucks with all the interest in Tucker County. Bottom line - Tucker County residents (at least some) want to have more control of their land vs Gov't control so they can build as they feel appropriate.
Roger Z
April 19, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Thanks John. The things I had heard about the refuges was that they were made for hunting, but if that's not all they were made for I wouldn't be surprised.

It sounds like Tucker is more concerned about the designation of some land already owned by the federal government more than worries about the feds buying even more land... not sure the feds have the land to do that anyway at this time. Which brings up an interesting question: the Forest Service is owned by the Department of Agriculture. National Parks are owned by... geez I just took this course last semester and I can't remember. Some good school is. Anyway, they're NOT owned by the Dept of Ag. There's a HUGE rivalry between the NPS and the Forest Service over land management. Can't imagine it's going to be a simple transfer of tens of thousands of acres from one department to the other... wonder how this is all playing out in those respective agencies?
tgd
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Quote:

Isn't much of the land for the potential NP aready National Forest, State Forest, State Park, WLR, etc?




I believe all of the land proposed for the National Park is already owned by the Federal and State Governments. Sounds like the TCDA circulated a tilted petition that misrepresented the facts surrounding the NP proposal to ensure they got the decisive results they wanted. Sure, if you circulate a petition asking people if they are in favor of preventing the federal government from "grabbing" their land I'm sure at least 90% of the people in any county be it Tucker or Fairfax would sign it. Just from the rhetoric quoted in the article, it's clear to me that the issue has been misrepresented to the public and folks are not able to look beyond knee-jerk emotions at the NP proposal. I read another article where a state senator accused an anonymous member of Friends of Blackwater Canyon of plotting to kill her and others opposed to their agenda. She claimed to have filed reports with both the FBI and local sheriff, a statement that was denied by the sheriff and not commented on by the FBI. Emotions seem to dominate all debates regarding public versus private ownership of land in Tucker County so it is hard for residents to examine the issues objectively.

The benefits of the park proposal include increased tax revenue to the county in the form of payments in lieue of taxes from the Federal Government for converting the state parks into Federal Parks - currently Tucker receives no payments from the state of WV for these parks. Also, employees of the Park may get better treatment in the form of wages and benefits as National Park employees. John probably hit the nail of the head regarding hunting restrictions with regards to expanding the NP to include National Forest land (I don't believe they allow any hunting in CVSP or BFSP). Personally, I have trouble with NP restrictions on my favorite off-season activity - mountain biking.

Still, there is no denying that having a National Park in Canaan Valley would have a MAJOR economic impact on Tucker County. The number of tourists would swell orders of magnitude beyond what the state parks draw now. Just the stature and nationwide marketing that the National Park System has would bring people from around the world to Canaan Valley. A NP would help even out the tourist season there and bring people up year round. For once, more businesses would be opening than closing in Davis and Thomas. Commercial real estate values would sky rocket. Tax revenue to the county would also jump from increased tourism, employment, new businesses, and real estate values. They could attract full time health care professionals and open an urgent care center in the Valley so you don't need to wait 45 minutes in an emergency for a 45 minute ambulance ride to Elkins or Oakland. People could reasonably think about Canaan as a legitimate retirement community. More business means more jobs - maybe even more residents to fill the jobs. More taxes could be plowed into schools and infrastructure - reviving downtown Thomas and Davis. All told very big changes.

These changes are not necessarily viewed as positive by the local populations. People do like the life style as is there, much of the growth in business and real estate would be to the benefit of newcomers and at the expense of established residents. Hell, I love things up there as they are too - but I don't have to live there or send my kid to school there either.

Everytime I visit the Valley I come away with a strong sense that things will not - cannot - stay in their current "lost in time" state much longer. Everyone I've taken up there to visit - spring, summer, fall, or winter seem to reccognize how special the area is. The valley has too much to offer - and people with money will want a piece of it. Sure, Mr Drenning and DiBacco sound like men of vision ready to lead Davis and Tucker County forward into another decade of declining populations, bankrupt businesses, and decaying infrastructure (I'm not counting the rising number of crystal meth labs in Tucker as an indication of business revival). But Corridor H, Route 219 Expansion, explosion and expansion of developemnt south from Deep Creek Lake, and the possibility of Almost Heaven - these are megatrends that ARE going to change the Valley forever whether there is a NP in the mix or not - whether another acre of private land gets gobbled up by Washington or not.

I like the valley so much as it is now, I don't really like everything I see coming down the road. However, if I lived there full time, sent my kid to school there, wanted to retire and die there I would sure try to elect county and city leaders who would try and get in front of this inevitable wave of change and find a way to steer the waves in a direction that preserves some of that precious way of life and allows the fulltime constituents to benefit rather than being overrun by change.
tgd
April 19, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
National Parks are part of the Deparment of the Interior.
SCWVA
April 20, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,049 posts
Quote:

Personally, I have trouble with NP restrictions on my favorite off-season activity - mountain biking.





I too have a problem with creating a NP in the Valley. Over the past twenty years I've spent a lot of time riding/racing in the Valley. At least 4 trips a summer. I now only go up to the Valley one time each summer, due to the closure of a lot of the prime mtn. biking areas. With the creation of a NP, even more of the Valley would be closed to Mtn. Biking. I guess Federal $ (our tax $) is more important than tourism $.

Imagine coming up Rt. 33 from Harman and having to stop at a gate to pay a fee to come into the Valley (like the Shenandoah NP). The Gov't. shouldn't be able to take your land and then charge you to use it.
Roger Z
April 20, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Thanks TGD. Dept of Interior, got it.

You know, another interesting model that's never been used in the United States is the national park model of Britain. In Britain, the national parks are "working" parks- there are villages in them, people farm there, and the like. Most of the parks don't look much different than rural landscapes.

One thing I've wondered is whether some type of national park like that wouldn't be good for the Valley. I'm guessing there would be two significant changes, one good, one bad. The bad one is that it would probably restrict some economic activities on national land- if there's any residual forestry in Tucker County in those acres, for instance, that would most likely be stopped.

The good news about a national park- in addition to the feds apparaently paying some tax money to Tucker County that was metnioned earlier- is that right now the trail system around the Valley is very scattered. Getting from the Sods to the Wildlife Refuge over to CVSP and up to BFSP is difficult (except for the latter two connections). With a national park, the land would finally be put together in such a way that you could link all of these parcels, and probably the Roaring Plains as well.

I used to be opposed to the National Park concept but with some creative flexibility- such as pursuing something similar to the British model- you could get a really good park that would do a lot to promote economic development in the area. Davis would basically become the gateway community to the park and have a steady stream of tourists, summer and winter.

Biking concerns, hunting concerns, and local economic livelihood above and beyond tourism $$ all need to be addressed though. The strongest argument against any of this has been made pretty well by Bawalker elsewhere- folks don't want to be displaced. That should be as important a consideration in this discussion as our concerns for why we would want (or not want) a national park there in the first place.
wvrocks
April 22, 2005
Member since 11/9/2004 🔗
261 posts
Quote:

Johnfmh,


This would allow the people of WV to use their land for recreational purposes? ie: Hunting, Mtn. Biking, camp fires (in nondesignated areas), alcohol consumption, ..... As far as I know, these activities are illegal in NP's, WR's, & the CVI.






Canaan Valley Institute has a VERY different land use policy compared to the National Wildlife Refuge. CVI allows hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, trapping, xc skiing and snowshoeing. Check outr page 12 of
their land management plan for details. Click Here Basically everything that was allowed there still is. Technically ATV's were not allowed by the previous landowners. It just wasn't enforced.

The National Wildlife Refuge on the other hand has severely limited access and useage. They play lip service to horseback riding and mountain biking by allowing it on a few old roads in the area. Most of the real trails that people used are closed to those uses now. Hiking is allowed but only on specified trails. It is my understanding that bushwacking cross country is not allowed. They currently own around 16,000 acres in the valley.

I'm not sure of the exact number but I believe about 70+% of Tucker County is owned or controlled by some goverment organization. That doesn't leave much of a tax base. I am a Canaan Valley resident and don't want to see another Deep Creek just as much as anyone. But, I also do not want more goverment land use restriction in the form of a National Park.
jimmy
April 22, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
wvrocks, this story is turning into a bowl of alphabet soup , cvi, tcda, np, nwr . What's it all about? Seems this petition is the news, who are the players and what land are they really fighting over?
gatkinso
April 22, 2005
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
Quote:

But my question to those who want to take our property and give it to the government is who do you think was responsible for making this county prime, choice and beautiful?" DiBacco asked.
DiBacco claimed the land was given by "God, and then our parents and grandparents took care of it and nurtured it until the present time. And as I see it, they must have done a super job of it or others would not be flocking here to get a piece of the action."




Actually, CV was given to us by the CCC. After logging operations clear cut the land, and the peat deposits caught fire burning the valley clear down to bedrock, the place looked like the surface of the moon for over a decade. CCC workers carried millions of bushels of topsoil back to the valley to give nature a foothold once again.

Maybe some of them were grandparents of current residents, but most of them took off once the work was done and went elsewhere.
jimmy
May 3, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

Quote:


Much of it has to do with hunting--a WV sacred cow.




Hey that's cool. When does this cow season start? When i was little and my Dad taught me to hunt, he also taught me not to kill something unless I intended to eat it. I quit hunting several years ago because my family didn't like to eat game, hunting season also conflicted w/ ski season.


Now, we do like beef at my house. It seems to me cow hunting would be much easier than hunting grouse or deer. I wonder what kind of gun i need; do I need a special tag for cow or is it included in the basic hunting license; when does the season start?
SCWVA
May 3, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,049 posts
WVROCKS,

I saw a map on WG's website that showed the CVI property. Isn't this the land that VA Power use to own? Isn't this the property where the Blackwater 100 and the original 24 Hours of Canaan was held?

Is it now legal to mt. bike on the original 24 Hrs of Canaan course, including Moon Rocks?
wvrocks
May 3, 2005
Member since 11/9/2004 🔗
261 posts
Yeah, I saw that map there today too. It is my understanding that the CVI property was indeed the same property where the BW 100 and 24hrs were held. I'm not familiar with the exact layout of the original 24hrs course but I'm pretty sure you can legally mtn bike on the trails that still exist in the area which are on CVI property, unless they are marked as no biking (don't think any are). If any of the course was on the National Wildlife Refuge, those would be off limits now. Best bet would be to stop in
at Blackwater Bikes and talk to Roger about it. I know for sure I've heard them talk about riding at moon rocks when I was in there.
tgd
May 3, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
I thought most if not all of the original course was at Timberline. Certainly a good part of it is there - they mark the race course on their Mountain Bike trail maps, or is that simply the prologue route. Here's a description of the old race route copied from MTBR -

"Recommended Route:
Okay... I know this is gonna sound complex, but if you haven't ridden the old 24hrs. of Canaan loop yet, chances are that you'll get really, really lost. You want to start at the bottom of the black double lift and just head up the trail the farthest to the left (aka Salamander). You climb up that a ways and you should see a trail branch off into the woods on the right side of the trail. Aha! The mystique Prolouge Loop. You can ride this forever, its all up and down and mudpits and logs, but its not that much fun. You will cross trails such as The Drop and The Wall as you bike it. Eventually you should come out over by the Bunny Lift (old double).
Just follow that trail down towards the triple and out. You will hook up with a very steep and long fire-road climb up the backside of the mountain. Its agonizing, get the goo out at the top.
Anyways, you will eventually end back up on a ski slope (Salamander once again, just a few hundred feet higher). Go up to the top of the mountain on the ski run and TAKE A BREAK at the lift (you'd be nuts not to)!
Now work your way over to the First Aid hut, and just to the left of the deck is a rocky trail with signs such as "DANGER" and a double-black diamond-bearing sign. Unless your a wimp, disregard these and head on down. Watch out for a quick drop after a sharp corner near the top that can toss you and your bike over a large rock. Now you're in the rock-bed. There are numerous places to escape onto the ski run Dew Drop and R-U-N-N-O-F-T from the monster thats about to swallow you. Now you head down a few steep, rocky, rooted-out chutes that will eventually dump you over around the Mid-Station of the Triple Lift.
From here you veer off to the right of the mid-station and through a rough drainage area. Keep going and then let it all hang out as you fly down the black-diamond rated Lower White Lightning back to the lodge. There you go, 13 miles in a nutshell."

I never did the 24 hour race, so I'm not sure if this description covers the entire course. Canaanman probably knows better. Anyway, as I've posted here before, a good part of the course - including Crash and Burn - were pretty much destroyed by the ATV races last year. I don't know if T-line has done any restoration work. I plan on riding there this weekend, so I will file a firsthand report next week.

I haven't ridden over on the CVI property yet, but I know it is open for mountain biking. I can't seem to find the CVI map you are talking about - I have been hoping to find some sort of trail map for that area but no luck so far.
wvrocks
May 3, 2005
Member since 11/9/2004 🔗
261 posts
The original 24hrs was held in Davis in 1992 and then moved to Timberline from 1993 to 1999. From a letter written by Laird to Iplayoutside.com: "It was, after all, Timberline that saved the day when we were forced to move from our original course in Davis (due to other unrelated land access issues)." letter
wvrocks
May 3, 2005
Member since 11/9/2004 🔗
261 posts
Here's the map that was shown on the Whitegrass site. CVI or Blackwater Bikes probably have better maps of the existing trails.

SCWVA
May 3, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,049 posts
Actually the two first years on 24hrs of Canaan were held in Davis on the Power Company land which is now I believe is CVI land. After that it was moved to T-line then to Snowshoe. I raced in the first ten years of this race. Eight years in the valley and two years at Snowshoe. From what I understand the race was moved to T-line because the ATV's & motorcycles were tearing up the Power Company land pretty bad and they couldn't just ban ATV's, so they included Mt. Bikes in their ban. The race was moved from T-line to SS because a portion of the race course became part of the Wilderness Reserve which also banned Mt. Bikes on it's trails.

The original start/finish line was just over the rickety bridge on the edge of Davis near the new IGA(Is it new now?). You use to be able to camp right next to the start/finish line. The course was pretty technical, but didn't have much climbing. The Power Company land looked like an old strip mine that the were trying to reclaim. We knicknamed a section of the course prehistoric land because the rocks, mud, and the trees weren't any taller than 5' and they were all deformed. There was also a section called Moon Rocks which was a section of flat rock maybe 1/4 long that was just plain sweet. Very unique.

If the CVI land is open to mountain bikes I'm going there this summer. I think I saw some picture's on WG's website last summer of Moon Rocks, but I figured they were just poaching them.

Does anybody remember the Original 40K held in the Valley? A true and very sweet point to point race. This race was also discontinued because of access problems.
Mountain Masher
May 3, 2005
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
My brother likes to call Tucker and Pocohontas Counties, WVA the closest things that the Mid-Atlantic has to Colorado. And, with the continued growth of the DC/Balt., Richmond and Tidewater (VA) areas, there is going to be some major growth in the tourism and recreation industry in those parts of WVA. However, if there's going to be some land-grabbing, it's very important how that land is managed. One thing that concerns me is a noticable increase in the level of logging. Fortunately, most of the large logging operations (near Davis and Snowshoe) that I've seen appear to be making an effort to comply with erosion control laws. However, logging makes me nervous because too much of it can affect the pristine look and feel of an area and have a negative impact on tourism. Bedford and Blair Counties, PA (where Blue Knob is located) have allowed a massive amount of logging (with little or no enforcement of environmental laws) over the past 10 years. And, as a result of the logging (combined with highly destructive mining and quarry activity), the tourism industry is likely to show little or NO growth in Bedford and Blair Counties over the next 20 years. This, despite the fact that this part of PA is at least one hour closer (drive time) to the DC area than CV or Snowshoe, WVA.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

Join the conversation by logging in.

Don't have an account? Create one here.

0.14 seconds