JOSEPH G. WHELAN III, MD, on June 10, 2009 wrote:News Report Sheds Negative Light On BSA
Editor, The News-Gazette:
Do you care for the future well-being of the Maury River and Goshen Pass area? Please prove this by taking 15 minutes to review some excellent investigative journalism to inject a dose of reality into the question of allowing the BSA to conduct a quarter million person “jamboree” at the beautiful and ecologically fragile headwaters of the Maury River? Every concerned citizen regarding this matter should go to the Web site and read for themselves what kind of neighbor is inviting itself into our community.
This investigative report, written by Lewis Kamb for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in Jan ’09, is not only a superbly researched review of the BSA logging practice history, it is a crystal ball to let readers know what kind of neighbor the BSA is likely to be should they move their headquarters here.
In my 45 years of living, I have learned (at least) one thing about human nature — “actions speak louder than words.” BSA claims to teach a practice of “Leave No Trace” regarding wildlife interactions. Ha! Read the story. Read how BSA timbering practices have been criticized by their local neighbors in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Georgia, New York, Montana, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Read about the BSA breaking state timbering rules, ignoring unstable waterside slopes before logging, discharging sediment into the waterways and endangering salmon, failing to maintain roads, damaging sensitive streams, building unauthorized roads through protected areas, improperly operating a summer dam that killed endangered steelhead fish, failing to conduct required endangered species surveys in proposed timber harvest areas, and breaking laws in maintaining sufficient tree buffer distances between timber harvest areas and nearby waterways.
And finally a word for Jack Furst, the slick BSA executive board member who on so many occasions has “welcomed” input about the subject at hand from our community. In response to how he felt about jamboree opposition voiced at a recent public forum, Mr. Furst was quoted by WSLS News as saying, “I think there is a very well organized vocal group that clearly opposes this. I think history indicates this group tends to oppose just about everything.”
Is that Mr. Furst’s idea on how to be a good neighbor? With all due respect, I have some advice for him on how to be a good neighbor: When your neighbor offers an opinion that is different from your own, you don’t immediately denigrate him or her by belittling their motives and thought process. Is this the kind of neighbor we want? Not me. Not anywhere.
Stoneridge Timber Farm, Rockbridge County
On July 29, 2009 The News-Gazette wrote:Boy Scouts No Longer Looking At Goshen
The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that it has determined that its proposed site in Goshen for the National Scouting Center, which includes the 2013 national Scout jamboree, is being withdrawn from consideration due to the significant restrictions on land utilization.
For the past few months, the BSA has been studying the challenges around land use and what would be needed to prepare the site to host a number of activities, including a national summer camp, quadrennial jamboree, and other programs. The site is currently owned by the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts.
“The Goshen site is a remarkable piece of property, and although we believe we can solve the technical issues to make it work, it’s simply too restrictive from a land utilization perspective to do what we need to do for the amount of investment that would be required,” said Jack Furst, national chairman and lead volunteer for the National Scouting Center.
“We said all along that we needed to study the issues, and we’re appreciative of those in Rockbridge County who supported our efforts as we went through this process,” he added.
In February, the BSA announced that after an extensive 18-month process, it had selected sites in Virginia and West Virginia to explore the vision of a National Scouting Center. This announcement allowed the BSA to proceed with investigation and negotiations in those states to explore the issue further. The plans called for a permanent home for the national jamboree in Goshen and the new high-adventure base in Fayette and Raleigh counties, W.Va.
The organization recently signed an agreement to purchase 10,600 acres, some of it reclaimed mining property, near Beckley, W. Va., and announced that it would develop a new high- adventure base to complement its existing three bases in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Florida. The BSA expects to close on the property later this fall.
“In light of our recent decision concerning the Goshen site, we’ll be looking to see if the West Virginia property can support a jamboree, but we have a lot of work to do there before we can make that determination,” Furst explained.
For more on this story, see this week’s issue of The News-Gazette.
Roanoke Times on September 7, 2010 wrote:Editorial: Scouts' duty
The group built the dam to make a lake. It should make it safe.
Somebody has to fix the dam.
We wonder, as many surely do in these hard times, why the federal government is on the hook to make the privately owned Goshen Dam safe. Yet such has been the case for almost 15 years.
An apparent favor by Northern Virginia's congressional delegation to the region's Boy Scout council was supposed to pay for repairs and an upgrade of the "high hazard" dam. Instead, the people along the Maury River in Rockbridge County are caught in a dangerous Catch-22.
The Scouts need to help get them out before the waters rise and the dam breaks. Seriously. The Army Corps of Engineers has found that it's at risk of failure in the event of a 200-year flood.
The Boy Scouts built the earthen dam 44 years ago on the Little Cowpasture River, upstream from the houses and cabins along the Maury, to create Lake Merriweather at the Goshen Scout Reservation. The whole spread -- land, lake and dam -- is owned by the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Back in 1996, Northern Virginia's congressional delegation reportedly got the dam put on a list of dams to be upgraded using federal funds. Over the years, Congress also appropriated money for the project. Just never enough at one time to get the job done.
So the Corps of Engineers used some of it here and there to work on dams it gave a higher priority -- dams the government actually owns.
The Boy Scouts council, meanwhile, pleads insufficient funds and waits for the government to come through. As the owner, though, it has a moral obligation to act to assure the safety of residents below the hazard it created.
A little more than $2 million remains of a total $5.7 million in federal money appropriated for a fix the corps said it could do for $5 million back in 2006. The Scouts should raise the money needed to get the job done.
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