Dosewallips park "grapples with growth" - Washington State property owners under siege and hearing 'willer seller' lingo
(Note from contributor Julie Smithson: Compliant reporting is everything to "park planners." One huge example is the failure to mention another 'alternative,' which is No Action. The local residents are right to be alarmed by this expansion that includes their properties and makes them 'instant inholders' as the park continues to expand like a cancerous tumor, gobbling up land -- and the natural resources on and under it -- with an insatiable appetite. Parks virtually never shrink; they grow, and 'willing sellers' are created, 'by hook or by crook.' Read this for more on the truth about 'willing sellers:' http://moosecove.com/propertyrights/thott/WillingSellerWillingBuyer.shtml The following is also highly recommended reading: http://www.moosecove.com/propertyrights.shtml Some links may no longer work in this list.)
Dosewallips park grapples with growth
March 15, 2006
By Kasia Pierzga firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-385-2900 Ext. 102
Port Townsend Leader
Port Townsend, Washington
To submit a Letter to the Editor: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposed expansion plans at Dosewallips State Park near Brinnon have drawn opposition from some nearby property owners.
Concerned about a proposal to include private land in the park's long-term plan for expansion, about 30 local residents turned out at a meeting organized by state park planners in Brinnon last week to gather public comment.
Brinnon resident Dan Ackerman said he attended the meeting to voice his opposition to any park plans that include private property within a proposed expansion boundary.
Ackerman and his wife, Kathy, own seven acres just north of the river, where they maintain a small fruit orchard and raise vegetables and flowers for sale at farmers markets.
Ackerman said he grew concerned about the proposal after realizing his river-delta property -- including adjacent tidelands -- is among several privately owned parcels that parks planners say they would like to see added to the park at some point in the future.
"They talk about it like it"s a vacant field," Ackerman said. "They seem to place no recognition that this is our home."
No plans to take land
While Ackerman said he and his wife want to remain on their land, he said he is worried the state agency could find an excuse to exercise its right of eminent domain -- the power of government to take private land for public use, paying the owner fair-market value.
But according to State Parks planner Lisa Lantz, the agency isn't interested in taking land from unwilling owners. Including private property in the long-term park boundary simply means that when the owner wants to part with the land, State Parks would step up as a willing buyer.
"We are not interested in acquiring property that people aren't interested in donating or selling," she said. "In no scenario are we going to be taking people"s property."
At the meeting, fellow parks planner Peter Herzog said the use of eminent domain can't be ruled out. But condemning adjacent property is considered a last-resort option that would be used only when the land is being developed for activities that are extremely incompatible with parklands, or when the land is considered vital to the "very functioning of the park," Herzog said.
"Neither of these appear to be the case currently at Dosewallips," Herzog wrote in an e-mail message to a Leader reporter on Monday.
But Ackerman and other neighboring property owners who are concerned about the agency"s proposal to include their land within a possible expansion boundary say the whole idea makes them nervous.
"All of us along the water feel like until we get a letter in our hands that says "we're not going to do this," we're all going to feel like we've got to put our lives on hold," Ackerman said.
Parks planner Lantz said public comment made at the recent meeting in Brinnon will be included in the long-range plan for Dosewallips to be considered by the Washington State Parks Commission when it meets at Fort Worden on May 18. The commission is expected to approve a plan for the park at that meeting.
"People had very strong opinions, and we know that now," Lantz said.
More visitors coming
Population growth throughout Western Washington is placing increasing pressure on state parks, with double-digit increases in visitors expected in the next few years as more baby boomers reach retirement age.
During the 2005 season, Dosewallips saw 37,000 campers, including 16,000 who arrived in recreational vehicles requiring electrical hookups. The park also saw some 336,500 day-use visitors, many of whom used the boat launch at Triton Cove or the small dock at Pleasant Harbor, which are managed as satellite parks.
With the number of park visitors expected to grow, developing a long-range plan for state parks is critical, planners say.
And with the near-pristine quality of the Dosewallips watershed environment, the park warrants careful attention, park Manager Doug Hinton said.
"There is so much here in terms of natural resources, including the river and tidelands and their relationship to Hood Canal water quality, we need to have a plan," Hinton said. "It"s better than just winging it."
And with a proposed plan for a large master-planned golf resort near Pleasant Harbor now working its way through the Jefferson County land-use process, now is the time to identify ways to protect the park from encroachment by development, Hinton said.
"If the resort is developed, the whole Brinnon area would be a changed landscape," he said.
Parks planners are considering two alternatives for Dosewallips State Park.
One emphasizes natural resources and would leave much of the park's land undeveloped. In that scenario, a new trail could eventually link the park to hiking trails in nearby Olympic National Forest.
Another alternative is to emphasize recreational use of the park, with more amenities for park users such as campsites with electrical hookups for visitors using recreational vehicles.
Whichever alternative is pursued, increasing the size of the park will allow it to accommodate a growing number of visitors without becoming overwhelmed, Hinton said.
"The park doesn't necessarily have to expand," he said. "But as the years go by, it will probably be better if it did."
For many people, owning property adjacent to Dosewallips and other state parks is considered an asset. It's not unusual for people to donate or sell land to state parks to protect it from development, or to establish conservation easements or management plans for their land to provide wildlife habitat.
Businesses also generally view nearby parks as an asset, with park visitors pumping money into the local economy when they visit shops, gas stations and restaurants. The Quilcene-Brinnon Chamber of Commerce, for example, has expressed support for developing a long-range plan for Dosewallips State Park.
Standing on a viewing platform above the broad, grassy delta where the river empties into Hood Canal, Hinton points to a rooftop high up in the hills at the south edge of the park.
The man who lives in the house plans to leave his property to the park in his will, Hinton said. The land could eventually provide camping space to replace lowland sites that are in danger of eventually being swallowed by the river.
Making plans for protection and eventual expansion of the park is key to its continued success, parks planner Herzog said.
"We're doing this in response to previous criticisms that State Parks isn't looking long-term," he said. "Hopefully people 100 years from now will be saying, "Wow, they had some foresight.""
Copyright 2006, Port Townsend Leader.
Washington County Alliance
Save a Way of Life
Preservationist Agencies and the Myth of the "Willing" Seller
"Willing Seller Willing Buyer" -
A Survey of the Not So "Willing" Sellers
by Bo W. Thott, Cutler, Maine
This classic study by Bo Thott of the Washington County Alliance, Maine shows how the Federal Government uses eminent domain to force property owners to become "willing sellers" under threat of condemnation. The study was done in response to a disingenuous claim in the New York Times by George Frampton, head of the Wilderness Society and later a high-ranking Clinton-Gore Interior official. Frampton wrote that there is no threat of eminent domain against private land owners by Federal preservationist agencies and accused those of opposing the national environmentalist lobby's arrogant plans for the National Park Service and other Federal agencies to take control of most of rural Maine as "whip[ping] up hysteria" over the threat to private property rights. He dishonestly implied that those forced to sell to the National Park Service had no personal interest in their property and so should be of no concern.
The pages below show that based on a national survey, private landowners ostensibly selling their properties to the National Park Service as allegedly willing sellers are in fact not bona fide "willing" sellers but instead give up their title to escape the futility of legal expenses against a foredoomed condemnation that cannot be legally stopped. Government agencies and their apologists then disingenuously publicly proclaim that the acquisitions are from "willing" sellers because the victims were not legally condemned in court. Some property owners, due to their particular circumstances, did sell willingly to the government, but the fate of the others demonstrates that none had a choice.
Reading through the sad comments of the victims (I have all the originals and have spoken with people affected by this all over the country) makes one wonder how on earth those running and promoting these preservationist government programs can live with themselves. How can they do this to another human being " and then cynically lie about it, dishonestly promoting themselves publicly as "white hats" so they can do it again to someone else? The environmentalist ideology " their vision of man and his subservient role to "nature" and raw political power on its behalf " is a rising threat to everyone as these politically well-connected activists continue to gain power.
The Thott study is based on a survey of names obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (and a law suit when the US Fish & Wildlife Service refused to comply) and discussions with property owners. It was first published in 1993 and reformatted for the web in 2001. This version is again reformatted, partly by the Property Rights Foundation of America, which also continues to make this classic study available to the public.
- Erich Veyhl
TAKING OF SMALL PARCELS
WILLING SELLERS of land to federal agencies are indeed willing just as those agencies proclaim. But with few exceptions they are not selling; they are instead subject to takings.
The "sellers" are as willing as robbery victims handing over their wallets when under the gun. The reason for their willingness to sign " going to court over a small piece of land generally means a further loss " is not explained by the land agencies. Instead they are trumpeting throughout the nation that their acquisition is not through eminent domain but through sales.
Most of those willing "sellers" are under restrictions, preventing them from improving their lots. Their land has become useless to them and commercially worthless. The only way to recover part of the investment is to have the feds take over the property and pay for the value as if there were no restrictions, as required by the Fifth Amendment. Some landowners are even desperately willing when the park agency is holding off paying for years, either for lack of appropriation from Congress or to pressure the landowners to accept low prices by having them continue paying real-estate taxes and interest on the mortgage while waiting.
A sale, as understood anywhere but in federal land agencies, is voluntary in that both parties agree on the price and no sale is mandated; no honest person able to both take the land and dictate the price would call it a sale. But park bureaucrats claim to deal with "sellers" who are told that their land will be taken in any case, the only question being whether they should take the risk spending time going to court and pay added unrecoverable legal costs or sign the document put before them.
Here is a 1993 example of parkspeak in a Fish and Wildlife folder, unchanged for years and used, with variations, by other land agencies as well. The writers of this kind of language unblushingly turn logic on its head:
"Service policy is to acquire land through condemnation" only in order to:
"settle a difference of opinion of value....
Or: Accept our offer or we take you to court."
Flimflam logic is hard to refute but the key in this case is the false use of the term SELLER instead of LANDOWNER SUBJECT TO TAKING. One may illustrate the absurd use of the term SELLER by reversing the roles, giving the landowner the authority to both dictate the price to the federal buyer and force him to buy.
TAKING OF LARGE PARCELS
WILLING SELLERS of large tracts of land are generally more eager than small-lot owners to have the feds take over because more money is tied up in their useless land, and their mortgage payments and property taxes are greater. Furthermore, because of the generally larger discrepancies between the amounts offered by the feds and the owner-claimed values, the cases tend to be taken to court.
Fred Rullison had received subdivision approval by the town of Gouldsboro in Maine years earlier for his 24-acre half of the Bar Island off Bar Harbor in the Acadia National Park. The Park owned the other half of the island.
Congress had reneged on the commitment to the Rockefeller family not to take, by eminent domain, private land located inside the park that had been donated to the Park Service in the twenties. By a law of 1986, private land inside the park boundary can be condemned if the owner is planning improvements that the Park disapproves of. Rullison's land had become worthless.
In 1988, Rullison became impatient and as he had done in the past, threatened to build the planned four houses, this time seriously enough to induce the Park to take action. The Park offered half a million but Rullison requested $1.2 million. To get things moving, Rullison demanded court action and the Park reluctantly agreed. The Park superintendent did not wish the case ending up in court; it was Rullison who insisted, he pointed out.
With the large sum at stake it made sense for Rullison to risk taking on the additional expense of legal advice. And it paid off: after the case had gone to the US District Court in Bangor, the Park settled out of court in early 1990 for $1,000,000. By settling, Rullison saved time and money; the Park sought to save face.
The Park press release announcing the event used the term RECORD PURCHASE in the headline and the term PURCHASE twice in the text. One euphemistic sentence reads: Due to a disagreement in price, the federal government presented the matter to the federal court for adjudication....
Not once do the terms eminent domain or condemnation appear. To this day, the Acadia Park claims officially that it has not used eminent domain. Such a claim is standard Park procedure whenever settlement is reached during a court fight. Rullison settled out of court and is thus labeled a willing seller. On this basis are Park acquisition statistics presented nation-wide.
Next: 2. The Occasion to Set the Record Straight
Bo W. Thott died on December 23, 2005, at age ninety. Always a fighter, his work -- of vital importance to property rights -- will be preserved by Erich Veyhl and others.
Additional recommended reading, especially for those in Washington State that are fighting for their property rights, but also for others who have yet to feel the steamroller in their neighborhood:
http://www.gaelwolf2.com/dosewallips_appeal.pdf (48 pages)