wflag.gif (12885 bytes)


Special Live Chats on AOL


 "America's National System of Parks" A Live Discussion
83rd Birthday of the National Park Service

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Panel Guests: Paul Pritchard (PritchardP), Barbara Goodman (GoodmanBo),
 Judy Rodd (JudyWVHC), Michael Frome (MFrome)

Davinder Khanna (GSTDKhanna)


GSTDKhanna: Hello every one, thanks for joining us tonight. I am pleased to welcome you to our chat series "Parks & People Live." We have gathered here to celebrate the National Park Service's 83rd Birthday and to discuss the dream, America's National System of Parks.

We are honored to have with us special guests, Paul Pritchard, Barbara Goodman, Judy Rodd, and Michael Frome.   

Paul Pritchard, founder and president of National Park Trust, will talk about a new report that will be released tomorrow, on the birthday of National Park Service. The report deals with America's National System of Parks, a dream that started with the commitment of private citizens who were in love with their homeland, and created the national and state park systems.

Barbara Goodman, superintendent of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve joins us to celebrate NPS birthday and to tell us about the challenges her park unit faces and the opportunities of working together.

Judy Rodd, senior VP of West Virginia Highlands Conservancy joins us to talk about a new proposed park, Blackwater Canyon, which has often been called a "Crown Jewel"

Michael Frome has a wealth of knowledge and experience on national parks and the conservation concept. He is with us onstage to share his wisdom.

Additionally, we have a few people in the audience who have firsthand knowledge and experience of being in the National Park Service. We welcome them to this chat!

I wanted to let every one know, the park entrance fee in national park is waived for Aug. 25, in celebration of the birthday.

Before we begin, I would like to thank GSTDPaint and GSTDCarol for their help. They organize the incoming questions for us.

So, let's welcome our guests, and begin our session. :)

PritchardP: Welcome everyone and happy birthday for the service. Our goal is to celebrate 86 more..

GoodmanBo: Good evening everyone, pleased to be here.

JudyWVHC: Thank you NPT -It is great to be involved in creating new parks.

MFrome: Fire away! Say something challenging!
JudyWVHC: Are there any other proposed National Park Campaigns going on around the country.

MFrome: Some of my best friends work for the Park Service. That's how I learn what goes on.

PritchardP: Judy, campaigns are going on in AZ, TX and for additions.

JudyWVHC: Paul, please describe the campaign in TX.

PritchardP: We are just getting to understand the common process. My apologies. TX is interested in a marine park, something we need in the USA. Barbara is leading the way to a new generation of parks. It's tough to manage, but real. Barbara, how is the support from the local govts?

RSmith0921: Barbara, how can you be a real NP without owning land?

GoodmanBo: Well I'll go ahead and take that Rick! We are indeed a national park though not typical. In the Preserve, the NPS currently owns about 7,500 acreas of a 46,000 acre boundary. The remainder of the preserve lands are owned by State, Local and over 300 private individuals and corporations. The support from the city is excellent, we have forged an excellent partnership with the state, city and feds.

MFrome: I'm sure you have a real national park there in north Florida. I hope to see it before long.

MFrome: GoodBo, is Charlie Bennett still around and active?

GoodmanBo: Yes, Charlie Bennett is still around!!

PritchardP: Michael, Bennett was a visionary as we have in other new areas. We need to keep adding nationally significant areas.

MFrome: I remember Bennett in Washington. I believe he gave his military pension to buy land for that park.

GoodmanBo: Paul, perhaps you could fill us all in on the report you are distributing tomorrow.

PritchardP: Barbara, do you have land acquisition priorities? That is the key issue for the beginning of the next century, finishing and adding. That's what the report is all about, handicapping the acquisition process. That's the message of the report.

MFrome: Good for you, Paul.

GoodmanBo: Because of the patchwork of land ownership, Congress' directive to only purchase land from willing sellers, and the prohibitive cost due to the sheer number of inholders, the Preserve's Management Plan directs us to acquire only the most threatened of privately owned lands. Even with that modified approach, we are moving very slowly in land acquisition due to lack of funds.

MFrome: Administering land in mixed ownership is very difficult. Best is federal ownership in fee simple. In Great Britain national parks came very late. I visited all the parks there. Without exception managers wished for national ownership.

GoodmanBo: Paul, please tell us more.

PritchardP: We need to give the superintendents the resources ($, acq staff, authority) to purchase lands at least from those willing sell. But the key is the public. Few know that there are 7million acres in the NPs in private hands. Congressman Regula, Senator Byrd, Congressman Vento, all say inholdings is no 1 priority.

MFrome: That is true. NPS needs to work with caring citizens more than with tourist promoters and entrepreneurs. We need to work together to sell parks all over again as a great national concept.

JudyWVHC: Is NPS changing their management strategy to better deal with sensitive ecosystems.

MFrome: Judy, I don't see it.

PritchardP: Rick, you are an authority on this. What do you think?

GoodmanBo: While it is probably not yet apparent on the outside, the NPS has begun a natural resource initiative that puts resource protection at the center of decision making.

RSmith0921: NPS understands ecosystem mgmt better now, but not still in the vanguard

Pk rnger: What is wrong with the current strategy?
PritchardP: The question is not what is wrong, but how can we make it better.

Pk rnger: I guess Seller's book has had an impact?

JudyWVHC: Is it true that the Forest Service is better at dealing with wilderness

RSmith0921: Yes

JudyWVHC: How?

RSmith0921: They have done more research. And, they have devoted more human and fiscal resources to the issue

MFrome: Wilderness definitely is not an NPS priority

JudyWVHC: They are not doing very well on bats.

MFrome: Rick, you are too kind to the Forest Service.

RSmith0921: Mike, do you agree that the first step is to get boundary around an area, acquisition later?

MFrome: Yes, I can agree.

RSmith0921: Then, the x acres in private ownership is a time issue

MFrome: I have just been to the Tallgrass Prairie. What a challenge! But an opening to do great work in the heartland

GoodmanBo: I don't agree that it is necessary for the NPS to own all the land within its boundaries. There are other ways of achieving protection of resources.

RSmith0921: I agree with Barbara.

MFrome: I think we have to show these local people that they can be part of something bigger than themselves.

PritchardP: Each park is an opening either to protecting heritage or educating the mind.

RSmith0921: What we can't buy, we can agree to protect through negotiation.

MFrome: Well said, Paul.. Better that way than as tourist targets only.

RSmith0921: Got to run. Thanks for an interesting chat.

PritchardP: NPS must have the authority to acquire, if nothing else is possible.

Pk rnger: Yes, but tourist targets is what gets congressional attention!

GoodmanBo: Unfortunately, in order to obtain the support necessary to pass legislation it is now necessary to promise that land acq will only be done with willing sellers.

PritchardP: Barbara, could your park work without local support
GoodmanBo: No, our park could not work without local support. We have over 300 private citizens living within our boundaries!

PritchardP: The key is the competence of the superintendent to communicate with the local officials.

Pk rnger: Communication with stakeholders is of major importance.

GoodmanBo: The NPS is learning that superintendents are needing to learn a whole different set of skills than in the past.

PritchardP: Judy, what is the vision for the Blackwater proposal?

JudyWVHC: The vision is to protect the high mountains of WV that contain remnant populations of plants and animals leftover from the last iceage; wildland in the East is becomming scarce - we must act now to protect it before it is too late - and urban sprawl gets it.

PritchardP: Where are the WV citizens on this park proposal?

JudyWVHC: The WV citizens are very supportive - we have 20,000 names on a petition to make the Blackwater Canyon Area a national park.

Pk rnger: Is there opposition?

PritchardP: Can folks outside WV help, who should they contact?

JudyWVHC: They should contact their congressional delegation - since it takes all of congress to create a national park. Send copies of any contact to the WV delegation - - Ask your congressman to speak to the WV delegation.

GoodmanBo: Judy, what are the options for those 20,000 to work together for protection while the park process moves along?
PritchardP: Will we need to acquire the Canyon to protect it?

JudyWVHC: We do need to acquire the canyon to protect it.

CTMcASHE: Land Water Conservation Fund dividends need to be dependable! Will Congress now comply with its intent ?

JudyWVHC: GoodmanBo - please be more specific.

GoodmanBo: I'm just thinking that there might be grassroots things that could be agreed to by the current landowners while the effort to get official boundaries moves along.

JudyWVHC: There is only one landowner.

Pk rnger: And who is that?

GoodmanBo: And is that landowner a developer or about to sell to a developer?

JudyWVHC: The landowner is a timber company that has timbered 1,600 acres of the 3,000 acre canyon...and has plans for developments (houses, etc.)

Pk rnger: Ouch

TallPrairy: Are they willing to sell?

GoodmanBo: Have they been met with to see if they are willing to think about alternatives for their land?

JudyWVHC: The landwner has ceased all activity since FWS told him that he may have destroyed endangered species habitat - several Enviro groups have filed suit.
The Forest Service and the Governor have me with him. He has agreed to sell 5 acres and donate 50 of the 3,000 acres - but the pricetag is very high.

GoodmanBo: They may just be prime for agreeing to other land uses if such an agreement would get them out of hot water. I'm just brainstorming here, no real answers, Paul is in the business to help find these answers, any thoughts Paul?

PritchardP: Is the price within reason?

JudyWVHC: Not at the moment - he is asking $50,000 per this greenmail?

PritchardP: So tax incentives are out... greenmail, yes.

GoodmanBo: We acquired some land a few years ago from a timbe company timber we agreed to stay off the land for 10 years while they continued their timbering. The agreement is that after the trees mature and they cut them down, they will replant with native vegetation and we will take over the property

PritchardP: And this is the same in a number of other parks. But first, we need to put it in the system.

JudyWVHC: That is true Paul - but we need to know where the endangered species are.

PritchardP: Barbara, will this ten years cost the ecosystem? Judy, same question.

JudyWVHC: The Blackwater Canyon would be destroyed if this was to happen

Pk rnger: So how to raise the money to get the land?

GoodmanBo: It is already in planted pine, so the native vegetation was lost years ago. This is a long term effort to bring it back.

JudyWVHC: The special qualities of the canyon such as a loss of species

PritchardP: NPT can help. We have finished four NPs and bought totally one.

JudyWVHC: WV has started a campaign called "Bucks for Blackwater" to buy back our canyon.

PritchardP: But we need local support, financially and politically/educationally.

GSTDKhanna: We also have Barbara Zurhellen (TallPrairy), preserve director of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, who has joined us from the Preserve in Kansas.

TallPrairy: Greetings all from the great state of Kansas and home of the TPNP

JudyWVHC: Greetings Barbara.

Pk rnger: At 50K per acre, yet a donation of 50 acres per every 5 sold, it's not that bad a deal.

JudyWVHC: It depends if the owner would agree to that formula. He has not said he would keep doing that.

Pk rnger: I thought he did.

JudyWVHC: He only said he would do it once. There are still 2,445 acres to be purchased.

GSTDKhanna: Also, I would like to welcome Charlie and Shirley Ann McCullough (CTMcASHE) who have joined us from Asheville, NC.

PritchardP: 50k is based upon an appraisal or a dream?

JudyWVHC: An appraisal from the landowner - not by the state...I believe it is based on every acre having the potential to hold development.

Pk rnger: 50K per acre is real estate price.

JudyWVHC: Which is not the case - because the canyon is so steep.

Pk rnger: Yes and steep at that for WV. The price I mean.

JudyWVHC: Yes it is - Very good Pk rnger.

PritchardP: Charlie, what is the SAHC about? How would it respond?

CTMcASHE: We often purchase with plans for L.W.C.Fund to assist with $

PritchardP: I'd like to hear more about SAHC in a future chat.

CTMcASHE: Thanks...Paul were about to close on 400 acres on Grassy Ridge.

TallPrairy: Judy, please describe your fundraising campaign, "Bucks for
Blackwater," please.

JudyWVHC: It is an appeal to the general public to give whatever they can ...pennies - quarters - dollars to protect our WV heritage.

TallPrairy: We too are trying to raise money to pay for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Are you having much success?

JudyWVHC: We have raised $75,000 for our campaign.

TallPrairy: Great!

JudyWVHC: But the Bucks for Blackwater campaign has just begun.

GSTDKhanna: Our sincere thanks to Paul Pritchard, Barbara Goodman, Judy Rodd, and Michael Frome for taking the time to join us tonight.

GoodmanBo: Thank you all, I enjoyed the chat.

PritchardP: Keep the spirit, folks.

GSTDKhanna: Last but not the least, thanks to everyone in the audience for your participation.

TallPrairy: Goodbye all, it was a great chat. Keep up the good work.
JudyWVHC: Thank you to everyone

Pk rnger: Thanks. I appreciated the time and knowledge from all .....esp. Davinder

GSTDKhanna: Remember, stay in touch online at Keyword: America's Parks and also by NPT website at:

PritchardP: Next time, Southern Highlands Applachian Conservancy?!

TallPrairy: Yes, the S. Highlands Applachian Conservancy, next.

GSTDKhanna: Pk rnger (Owen Hoffman) thanks for joining us.

JudyWVHC: Thank you Davinder for another great chat! Happy 83rd NPS!

Pk rnger: Good night all....:) and happy birthday NPS!!!! let's hear it for the green and grey!!!

GSTDKhanna: Good night every one!



| Copyright 2009 America's Parks Online
5616 Bloomfield Drive, Suite 103, Alexandria, VA 22312 ● 571-218-9541