The "Willing Seller" Really A Myth ?
Of Many True Testimonials
"John Jones is a willing seller. He didn't want to sell and held
out as long as he could. First the Park Service came in and
purchased the homes, farms and timberlands of his neighbors who did
want to sell. There will always be some.
Then the agency began to
search out those families who were in some kind of financial distress
such as from a death, divorce, loss of job and other reason.
watched as his community was checkerboarded by the Park
Service. He remembered being told when the park was created
that he would not be forced out. But a huge Trust Fund
passed Congress which gave
the Park Service money automatically every year without going
through the appropriations process. The Park Service had more
money than it knew what to do with. Eminent domain and
condemnation were now commonplace.
Jones remembered that the Trust Fund
had been slipped in to a bill dealing with the Gulf Oil Spill in
by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. He could not explain what buying
billions of dollars of private property had to do with an oil
spill? Or why Reid and the Congress had acted so quickly before
their own investigations and Commissions were complete?
Now the Park Service was targeting
local businesses and the county itself. Many small businesses
were purchased and put out of business. Others just withered and
died due to lack of business. The Park Service purchased the
holdings of several large timberland companies and large farms.
always hints of eminent domain, and some were already in court. People were told they would have to
sell eventually, so they might as well do it now as "willing sellers"
while the Park Service was spending money here and before the
timber owners and farmers began to sell as they saw that the logging
and agriculture infrastructure might eventually not be there. The
mill eventually had to close because it could not get enough
wood. Like a natural
ecosystem, the economic s ecosystem of a community can become
increasingly fragile, but all the government and the environmentalists
talked about were the fragility of the ecosystem while pretending they
were improving the economy.
timberland and farms were purchased, more homes and then more farms
began to disappear. The Park Service began to focus on the
farmers and ranchers. Many residents wanted to hold out but with
fewer jobs in the county, the value of their homes and property began
to go down. As the Park Service purchased them, they lay empty
for months or even years because the agency said they did not have the
funds to clear them out. They became havens for vandals and drug
houses, and targets for mysterious fires.
It is hard to
understand how the Park Service and other agencies have the money to
buy out local communities but according to reports we have seen, they
are over $10 billion behind in deferred maintenance.
"The Nature Conservancy and other
land trusts began to circle like buzzards. They would buy from financially
distressed landowners, and then turn the land over to the Federal
government. Time after time this happened, quietly,
secretly and silently they helped undercut the community gradually
eliminating the tax base, the economic base, and the population.
Yet nicer homes with nice views seemed to be selectively occupied by
strangers with connections, who were frequently heard touting the Park
Service. Some of them were park officials!
our Senators and Congressman for help to stop the Eminent Domain and
Condemnation. They would write a letter to the Park Service but
the mass land acquisition just kept on and on.
staff person told me that if the Senator had known he would end up as a
management consultant for continuing problems between landowners and
the Park Service, he would never have voted for the bill.
He had not
realized that getting a park appears to mean a never ending conflict
between the Park Service and the local community that had somehow been
targeted for removal and replacement by a favored political class. The
staff person said he had not heard of the history of what the Park
Service had done before in other areas. The Senator and his staff
had believed the reassurances by officials and the environmentalist
officials can vouch for that ever present conflict. Local elected
officials were not consulted as the Park Service and land trusts
purchased easements on large parcels without notifying or discussing the
issue with local elected officials. Elected officials
would wake up in the morning to find their tax base gone, and their
future with it. And they had no say in the matter. No
advance notice. Virtually no companies would invest in their county
now. There was no land base. One day they had a future and the next
day it was gone."
properties were taken off the tax rolls, the schools and county
services began to suffer. Several closed, making longer trips to
school necessary for families. The school district didn't have
the money for the necessary busses. Roads began to close.
As the Park Service purchased large areas, the agency put up chains
across the roads. Some of these roads had been used for years by
neighbors as access points to the river or to go camping, woodcutting
or berry picking. Usually we knew another way around but over
time, all the access was closed off to large areas.
service clubs and other community services began to close. The
library was in trouble. The hours were cut for it and other
county services. There had been several markets in town and three
gas stations. There is only one of each now and it looks like the
store will close. That means an 80 mile drive to Millersville for
groceries. Over time, other essential services and stores began
park was created they promised tourism. I don't know where it
is. We gave up a lot of good jobs for this park and the tourists
don't come. We had always had the scenery. The Park Service
didn't create that, and didn't do much else either besides the
restrictions it imposed. Several motels and restaurants were
built in anticipation of the visitors. All but one restaurant is
closed, and it cut its hours back. We have two motels still open
but they are struggling.
We have a
very nice ski area but a Park Service trail runs through it. The
agency has harassed the owners so often that they're close to giving
up. They can't get any kind of commitment from the Park Service
as to a final trail location so they can't invest in modernizing and
expanding the ski area. There sure are a lot of people in town
who would benefit if the ski area were allowed to meet its potential.
thought the Park Service supported recreation. Now it seems the
opposite is true. We heard from people out West that the Park
Service and the environmental groups were increasingly becoming
anti-recreation. It couldn't be true we said. It looks like
we were wrong. They seem to be against skiing and
snowmobiling. It doesn't make sense.
and the town had no choice but to raise our taxes. The tax base
for the county was shrinking almost daily. We had one local bank
and several bank branches. Now there is only one branch open as
part of the market, but it may go away too. The banks have not
made loans in our town for several years now because the future is
unstable. They won't make loans to loggers, farmers, ranchers,
equipment suppliers, or small businessmen because of the threat from
the Feds. No new houses have been built in some time. The
theater closed and the cable television company is considering shutting
down. It feels like a ghost town.
"Some of my
neighbors are determined to stay and suffer the consequences and severe
hardships of living within a now nearly all Federal enclave. I
love my town. I was born and raised here, went away to college
and came back. It looks like that even though I stood up to those
Federal land acquisition agents, there will soon be nothing left to
stand up for. I never thought I'd be a willing seller. But
I am now. They didn't tell us that this is what 'willing seller'
-----The "willing buyer, willing
seller procedure of acquiring land touted by park officials is
'meaningless' and a more proactive method is generally used," said
William Kriz, chief of Land Acquisition in an article in the Concord
Journal (Massachusetts) in 1988. http://www.moosecove.com/propertyrights/index.shtml#willingsellermyth