Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fishing in the Dan River?

From Patricia Evans:

"Dan River Basin Association and the Dan River Valley Heritage Initiative
It is dangerous to permit private organizations, outside the control of the electorate such influence and control. They are eroding our local governments.

Dan River Basin Association formed the Dan River Valley Heritage Initiative “to collaborate with appropriate partners to market the region to tourists, new businesses and relocating families to enhance economic development in the region.”   Dan River Basin Association wants Congress to designate the entire Dan River Basin  - 3300 square miles in Virginia and North Carolina as a heritage area including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax, Stokes, Rockingham, Caswell and Pearson and parts of Floyd, Franklin, Mecklenburg, Surry, Forsyth, Gilford, Orange and Granville  and Dan River Basin Association wants to manage it!  Here is the DRBA Board of Directors: http://www.danriver.org/board-of-directors   And see the map here: http://www.danriver.org/trails---virginia   To our knowledge, this initiative was begun without any consultation with affected property owners or elected officials in Patrick County.

Learn more from The Enterprise, Stuart, VA:

To the Editor:

The North Carolina based Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) continues to provide inaccurate and misleading information about the content of its plan and its activities in Patrick County.  You reported that DRBA said there is nothing in their plan that would affect Kibler Valley.  This is not true.   DRBA continues to list the Dan River in Kibler as a paddling resource without regard to property owners’ objections or the conflict it is likely to cause since paddling without permission is trespassing.  Other than request removal of inaccurate information, we have not offered Ms. Wallace suggestions.  We can manage our property without Dan River Basin Association's assistance.

In the same article, Bryan Williams lamented the effect of posting our private property on fishermen.  He failed to disclose, however, that the postings are due to Dan River Basin Associations insistence of its entitlement to use our private property without permission (including cutting and trimming trees) since the property was not posted.  Perhaps Mr. Williams does not know that owners have generously permitted the use of their private property for fishing for many years.  We are unaware of anyone being denied permission to fish even where land is posted and stocking is not planned again until fall.  We suspect his concern is really the effect it may have on paddlers.        

Dan River Basin Association continues to muddy the waters with false allegations.  We are unaware of anyone claiming that DRBA has the power of eminent domain or wants to take property.  Mr. Williams is well aware that the Dan River in Patrick County is not a public river.

This North Carolina based group gives conflicting reasons for writing a plan.  At a public hearing, Dan River Basin Association said it was developed for its use in qualifying for grant funds. And at that hearing, Brian Williams said that if DRBA didn’t get grant funding, he didn’t get paid.  A posting on the Patrick Rivers and Trails website by Dale Swanson claims the Board of Supervisors asked DRBA to write the plan.  In your newspaper, Anna Wallace said the Patrick County Rivers and Trails Group, a subgroup of Dan River Basin Association, asked Dan River Basin Association to develop the plan.  In other words, DRBA asked DRBA to develop the plan. 

From the chronology of activities, we suspect the Patrick Rivers and Trails Group was established to give some legitimacy to a Dan River Basin Association created plan and their Heritage Initiative.  The public has a right to know why DRBA assumed, without any notification, authorization or public discussion, an essential government function that is the legal responsibility of Patrick County elected officials. 

We found little evidence of public participation in the development of Dan River Basin Association's plan. DRBA did not ask for suggestions at its hearings but gave a power point presentation of its already developed plan.   DRBA has not revealed how it reached the conclusions in its plan.  They said “stakeholders” were consulted regarding the content of the plan; yet they would not tell us how stakeholders were determined, who they were, or what suggestions were made.  They also said guidance was provided by local officials but they would not tell us who.  To our knowledge, the Dan River Basin Association never asked or surveyed Patrick residents to determine the facilities wanted or needed. Affected property owners were not consulted.  The planning process was secretive and plans were not made available to the general public prior to the hearings. 

We suspect the outcome was predetermined by Dan River Basin Association prior to any discussions, meetings, or “planning” in Patrick County because of their interest in river access and because funding for trails is available from a set aside of federal gasoline taxes.  (Congress considered eliminating this set aside in the 2013 federal budget and two states have opted out, using their allocation of funds for road construction and repair.)  While trails may be successful in non-residential areas along industrial corridors, safety, crime, property destruction and privacy are concerns in rural areas.  There is no evidence that these issues or any increased demand on law enforcement were even considered by Dan River Basin Association.

Dan River Basin Association has not been honest about its involvement in other initiatives. DRBA denied involvement with any Heritage Initiative at a recent Supervisor’s meeting. Yet, according to information on its own website, Dan River Basin Association formed the Dan River Valley Heritage Initiative “to collaborate with appropriate partners to market the region to tourists, new businesses and relocating families to enhance economic development in the region.”  Dan River Basin Association wants Congress to designate the entire Dan River Basin  - 3300 square miles in Virginia and North Carolina including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax, Stokes, Rockingham, Caswell and Pearson and parts of Floyd, Franklin, Mecklenburg, Surry, Forsyth, Gilford, Orange and Granville as a heritage area and Dan River Basin Association wants to manage it!  To our knowledge, this initiative was begun without any consultation with affected property owners or elected officials in Patrick County.
 
And as with their recreation plan, Dan River Basin Association proposes to consult with “stakeholders”, appoint a steering committee (whom we don’t elect and can’t recall) to set policy and oversee this two-state regional initiative and acquire monetary and non-monetary support.    DRBA did not disclose how it would determine or consider the wishes of local residents,  property owners or elected officials or how this initiative would  be consistent with any initiatives of local governments.  Property owners would continue to own the land, pay taxes, maintenance and liability but the role Dan River Basin Association would play in management and control of this private property is unspecified.  And there is the money!  If successful, the DRBA would receive $16 million and perhaps more in federal funds - $1 million per year for 16 years to oversee this initiative..  We think it dangerous to permit private organizations, outside the control of the electorate, such influence and control.

We found other disturbing initiatives affecting property owners along rivers in Patrick and throughout Virginia. The American Whitewater Association, a Dan River Basin Association partner, has been very busy influencing the Virginia Assembly.   Although no Virginians are members of its 13-member board, they mounted a vigorous campaign to pass SB 737.  The bill, which would have denied established rights of property owners along even small Virginia streams, was narrowly defeated in the Virginia Senate.  

SB 737  

Navigation on freshwaters. Provides that the freshwaters of the Commonwealth shall be open to nonmotorized vessels for purposes of recreation between sunrise and sunset. This policy will apply regardless of whether the water body is deemed to be navigable or nonnavigable or whether the adjoining banks are publicly or privately owned.

SB 737 Nonmotorized vessels; freshwaters of State shall be open certain times for purposes of recreation.
floor: 02/05/13  Senate: Defeated by Senate (18-Y 21-N 1-A)
YEAS--Alexander, Barker, Colgan, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, McEachin, Miller, Northam, Petersen, Puller, Saslaw, Watkins--18.
NAYS--Blevins, Carrico, Deeds, Garrett, Hanger, Marsh, Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, Puckett, Reeves, Ruff, Smith, Stanley, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Wagner--21.
RULE 36--Black--1 Kevin Colburn of the American Whitewater Association and a resident of Missoula, Montana urged AWA members living or not living in Virginia to influence Virginia politicians to support the bill and urged them to tell legislators that they spend money in Virginia.

After the bill was defeated, he urge paddlers to continue to contact Virginia legislators because they would reintroduce a bigger, better bill in 2014 since they would now know the opposition to the bill.  Although Dan River Basin Association denied involvement in this bill, we find that unlikely since the American Whitewater Association is its partner.
Here is the list of Dan River Basin Associations Partners:

Conservation Organizations & Coalitions

River Organizations


Outfitters and Campgrounds

 
We also learned that paddlers influenced the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 1990 re-licensing of the Danville Hydroelectric Plant in Kibler resulting in river access and water release in July for paddling.  The American Whitewater Association website announces its intentions to start lobbying in 2025 for the 2031 re-licensing. 
 
We were astonished to learn that Dan River Basin Association had usurped governmental responsibilities in Patrick County, that its plan classified our private property as parkland, that it had undertaken other initiatives that would adversely affect our lives and property and did so while they were enjoying the use of our private property.  These initiatives, and probably others we haven’t yet found, by outsiders determined to exert control over local property causes us great concern.  We believe property owners, taxpayers and residents in Patrick County should determine the future of Patrick County rather than representatives of organizations based in North Carolina, Oregon, and Montana.   

We think Dan River Basin Association has an inherent conflict of interest because of their stated dependence on grant funding for salaries and their interest in river access.  We also question the legality of Dan River Basin Association employees, who said they were paid from federal grant funds, engaging in lobbying activities, a prohibited use of federal grant funds.   
 
The Dan River Basin Association has no official role in Patrick County, Kibler Valley or along the Dan River in Patrick County.  We are offended by their continued efforts to insert themselves into our lives and our private property.   We would not think of attempting to use or control the private property of others or to comment on private matters not of our concern.  It would be nice if DRBA afforded us the same courtesy.
 
We believe any local plan submitted to state and federal agencies should be considered carefully to ensure that it was developed properly and that it reflects the wishes of the locality.  These plans, once on file, may be used for other purposes.  We hope the Board of Supervisors will vote to reject the Dan River Basin Association plan.
 
Ilene Epperson
Janice Hall
Anthony Terry
Darlene and Leroy Pack
Jasper Nye
Todd and Tina Nelson

Below is the Agenda for the Monday, July 15th meeting, which Dan River Basin Association will present their plan!  All are invited to attend; help stop NPO' and NGO from eroding Local Government!
Business Meeting
Of the
Patrick County Board of Supervisors
Monday, July 15, 2013
                                                                                                       at 6:00 P.M.
Patrick County Administration Building
Stuart, VA
 
 OPENING SESSION:
  • Call to order by Mr. Chairman
  • Invocation –  Wayne Moore, High Point Church
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Moment of Silence in recognition of U. S. military serving here and abroad
 
REGULAR SESSION:
  • Approval of meeting agenda
  • Approval of meeting minutes
  • Approval of the Bills, Claims, Appropriations
 
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: The Board will take comments from the citizens
Dan River Basin Association -DRBA – Presentation of the Final Master Recreational Plan: Ms. Tiffany Haworth, Executive Director; and Ms. Anna Wallace, Project Coordinator; for Patrick County


Re-Elect Roger T. Hayden, Patrick County Dan River District Supervisor   
http://www.rogerthayden.com/index.html

Roger will continue to support and defend rights of land owners to manage their private property and water rights.

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"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson  Virginia Tea Party Patriots       www.virginiateapartypatriots.com   Danville Patriots http://danvillepatriots.com/   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyqTlje8RxQ"