Darby, Ohio watershed still coveted by federal agency, despite news reports

by July Kay Smithson


My concerns are that, contrary to what has been published in various print
media, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is NOT done with the rural Ohio area
where I live. I am concerned that people reading such reports will drop their
guard and assume that this area is no longer being coveted by USFWS. In a
meeting in mid-June 2002, the Region 3 Chief of Ascertainment and Planning,
Thomas Larson (also the photographer for the 'Final Report' excerpted below)
said -- three different times during his twenty-minute talk -- that "The
Service maintains an active and continuing interest in the human and natural
resources of the Darby Watershed." This certainly does not seem to be grounds
to consider the issue done.

During the course of its publicized interest in this area, the proposal
changes names three times, and its boundaries were in a state of constant

"In acknowledging the interest of the community in local conservation action,
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is not withdrawing support for the area. We
hope that the Service can serve as a resource for any group interested in
pursuing conservation initiatives."


Little Darby Creek Conservation Through Local Initiatives Final Report


http://midwest.fws.gov/planning/ldarbyfinalreport.pdf (87 pages)

Please be sure to note the photograph of the 'field of concrete corn in
Dublin, Ohio,' which is NOT LABELED as being outside the Study Area on page
11 of the pdf file -- there is another photo of the same project on page 80.

There is not a single photo in this report of a home or a person. The photos
show a cemetery, an arrowhead collection, an old covered bridge and the
Jonathan Alder cabin. Where are the photos of what we treasure -- the
work-calloused hands of John Purdum or Jonas Yutzy; the honest face of almost
eighty years that is worn by Fred Leckie; the children of Carl Yoder in their
clean, homespun Mennonite attire? Where is Rachel Miller's horse and buggy on
its way into Plain City?
Where is the REAL history of this area? There are only photos of oak trees
('savannas'), grass that I doubt if Mr. Larson could even identify, let alone
verify if it is native grass, and a photo of a flower that, contrary to its
listing is NOT endangered (the Royal Catchfly).

On page 14: "While withdrawing the refuge proposal as the preferred
alternative, the Service has an ongoing interest in the preservation of the
natural resources, water quality, and rural character of the Little Darby
Creek Watershed. The Service believes that with a committed local citizenry,
the unique features of the watershed can be preserved. This Final Report if a
reaffirmation of the Service's belief that the Little Darby Creek Watershed
is an area of significant natural and agricultural resource value.

Also on page 14: When the Final Report (Note: So, you mean, this Final Report
is not THE Final Report?) is released to the public, a notice will be
published in the Federal Register announcing its availability and confirming
that the Refuge proposal has been withdrawn."

"Coordinated action over a large area to accomplish common goals is always a
challenging proposition. ... With the ... pressures of time fueled by a
rapidly growing and expanding population, action is not only challenging but
critical. Zoning regulations have been strengthened. CREP and other programs
will help. But to keep the focus for the long haul, an ongoing coordination
of efforts is necessary. ... County government cannot preserve the
agricultural and natural resource values alone." pages 84 and 85

http://midwest.fws.gov/planning/ldarbyreportappendix.pdf (76 pages)
Pages 1 - 51. Pages 52-76 show other 'Conservation Examples.'

Thank you for your patience as I explain why my guard is still up.

My efforts with the http://www.PropertyRightsResearch.org website are
stronger than ever, and the flow of Letters to the Editor and public comments
on various Dept. of Interior 'plans' a steady stream.

For those who work here, the generational land and water stewards, the
resource providers and those who cherish them, no matter where on earth they
may live. From housewife to mechanic, hardware store owner to auditor,
grocery store cashier to school bus driver, this area is healthy because of
all who live here and care about it. A group of Federal employees from
distant Minnesota -- who have told other than the truth on countless
occasions -- cannot be trusted now. It took 28 years for the Canaan Valley
National Wildlife Refuge to be established in West Virginia, and the county
in which it exists is all but dead.
USFWS fought with a '50-year plan,' in
order to outlast the generations who would age and die. The younger
generation, having little economic reason to keep their land and ever-rising
taxes (to take up the slack of all the land that was leaving the tax rolls),
finally caved in.

It only takes one purchase in this area to create a Federal Wildlife Refuge.
Contrary to statements made in the report that there are "no active Land
Trusts in the Darby Creek Watershed," one of the three examples of
'successful local and national Conservation Land Trusts' is the Nature
Conservancy (TNC), an NGO that is firmly entrenched here and buying up land all
around the perimeters. Some of it transfers to the Columbus and Mid-Ohio
MetroParks system, which makes TNC look like a pal to those living in the
next county to the east, Franklin County. The mosaic of land that TNC owns
'in partnership' with many other groups, is filling in and becoming a full
piece of cloth.

From Klamath to the Darby -- from Eureka to Abiquiu -- from Florida to the
Bay of Fundy, these issues are ongoing and arbitrary.

Julie Kay Smithson

213 Thorn Locust Lane

London, Ohio 43140-8844


Email: propertyrights1@aol.com

Website: http://www.PropertyRightsResearch.org

Dedicated to property rights, resource providers, generational land stewards,
consumers and freedom.

"Either you have a right to own property, or you are property." - Wayne Hage,
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