Colonel - Thanks for asking about that.
In fact there have been MANY HUGE developments going on. Let me step back through the last year to give everyone an idea of several major developments that have been coming to light.
July 2007: Land owners receive threatening letters from the attorney for the Potomac Valley Soil Conservation District demanding right of entry to the property once more after the previous right of entry from Dec 04 expired in Dec 05.
September 2007: After a previous right of entry onto the land expired Dec. 2005, where the NRCS had conducted few and sparse land tests, the 'Potomac Valley Soil Conservation District' sued land owners taking everyone to court to gain a second right of entry. Claiming their need for more tests. The Environmental Impact Statement was already complete by this time. Land owners were fighting this as abuse of power by the soil conservation. Local Hardy County Circuit Court judge Donald Cookman ruled in favor of the soil conservation service.
The opposing attorney Howard Krauskophf (representing soil conservation) angrily stated that if any land owners approached NRCS or other agents conducting tests, we would be jailed for contempt and harassment. The judge agreed and signed that into the court order.
Late 2007: In 2007 the Environmental Impact Statement was released by the NRCS/USDA office which was more full of holes than Swiss cheese. No sound conclusive proof was offered to support the reason for the dam. Recreation as an option was dropped, flood control was proven to be of no benefit because no flooding is caused in the Lost River from the Lower Cove Run. Over 150 pages of complaints were added to the EIS with only 2 letters of support, from two local politicians. The "new" reason for the dam was for 'water supply' with projections into the year 2067 being made for Hardy County. Many laughed with hysteria that someone in this county was projecting into a crystal ball.
March 2008: At a monthly Potomac Valley Soil Conservation District meeting, the board members (many who never appeared for meetings) all appeared and voted 12-1 to approve survey work under the Right of Entry granted several months prior. The board voted to begin the housing/and appraisal process to begin the condemnation process shortly there after.
Land owners and opponents of the dam attended the public meeting with audio and video recorders recording the meeting. Two days later attorney Howard Krauskophf sent a nasty letter to land owners stating that audio and video recorders would be banned at the next meeting to prevent 'illegal interruptions' of the meetings. The previous meeting where opponents were recording, everyone sat calmly and politely in the audience section recording, no disturbances were ever made.
June 2008: Appraisers arrived with a Hardy County Sheriff's department escort to appraise homes after landowners claimed they would refuse to let appraisers into the homes and on the land. Attorney Krauskophf threatened that any land owner who refused to let appraisers into the home would be subject to arrest.
Home owners spray painted signs on tarps to hang over porches, awnings, and sides of houses to intimidate the appraisersin an approach to saying "get the F off our property". Appraisers were denied access to the homes, no one was arrested. The appraisers poked fun at land owners for fighting the dam.
August 2008: After much secretive development and media push, the Baker, WV water project failed before getting off the ground. The largest USDA funded water project in the nations history was granted to Hardy Co, WV to the tune of $14 million dollars to fund building a water treatment plant at the base of the Parker Hollow Dam (10 mi away) as well as fund construction of piping water to Wardensville, to Lost City, and up Branch Mountain.
Only 28 citizens signed up for the project which requires a mandated 80% citizen acceptance before federal funds can be used. Local citizens staunchly refused to sign up for the project stating that they refused to pay extra utility bills when their current well water suited them just fine.
The county through the Moorefield Examiner and public meetings began scare tactics to try and scare citizens into signing up for public water at a cost of $400 for a 3yr contract with around a $55 monthly water bill. Local politicians and the Examiner printed articles trying to scare local citizens that their wells could be contaminated with ecoli, salmonella, or deadly bacteria that could kill them.
Residents staunchly opposed the water project still with the Hardy County Planning Commission quietly stating they would return the $14 million dollars back to the USDA by Oct 2009.
With public water being defeated by county citizens, opponents of the Lower Cove Dam have publicly stated on local radio and newspaper to why there is a need for a FOURTH dam claiming to need to supply water to the area when no citizens want public water?
September 2008: At their monthly meeting, the Potomac Valley Soil Conservation District discussed "Land Acquisition" and "Federal Permits". It was revealed that the soil conservation service has NOT applied to the Army Corp of Engineers for a 404 permit to build a dam. The board also voted 12-1 to begin the process of starting land acquisition through buyout offers or use of Eminent Domain.
When asked by opponents of the dam, what happens if the 404 Army Corp of Engineer's permit is denied, and the board has acquired opponents land, do those land owners get their land back. The board stated that may be an option, but more than likely would not happen, even if the 404 permit is denied and the dam is never built. The board also stated that it would take up to 8 months to find out approval or denied status of the 404 permit.
The board discussed the upcoming elections in the Nov general election. All 12 seats will be sought after with over 7 of the current board members no longer running for re-election after WV election laws were changed. This would mean the soil conservation board IS ACTIVELY TRYING TO CONDEMN LAND WHEN THEY WILL NO LONGER BE THE SAME BOARD AND THE PERMITS HAVE NOT BEEN GRANTED.
That brings me to the current state of affairs regarding the dam. If anyone here has deep or semi-deep pockets and would like to donate to helping everyone here save their homes and land, please donate anything you can goto http://www.savelostriver.org/donate.php
to donate via credit card, mail check, or paypal.
We will fight this to the end because we feel this is an illegal and immoral project taking citizens land wrongly and many people across the nation agree. YOUR FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS are funding this project. Stand up to give donate a tax deductible donation to keep your tax dollars from being wasted as well as us being able to keep our homes and live in peace... which is what the American Dream is.