Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Doomsday Approaching for the James River View Shed?

The tranquil view of the James River from Jamestown is not too dissimilar from how John Smith and the earliest settlers saw it almost 407 years ago. For those us who have enjoyed it, we shudder to think of its pending destruction if Dominion Power succeeds in obtaining a section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build its proposed thirty-story towers for power transmission lines across the James.
James River Kayaker; Courtesy James River Association

This serene and bucolic setting belies the statement by Scott Hathaway of Dominion Power that "'s a river that has an industrial character and has for a long time." That must come as a shock to the countless visitors to Historic Jamestown that are daily directed to stand on its banks and look downstream, whence those first settlers came. It's among the other points raised in an article syndicated by the Associated Press reporting on this question of destroying an important element of our national heritage. As we had previously posted over a year ago, "Can you imagine putting power plant on Plymouth Rock?" 

There may be little time to prevent this besmirching of our national heritage, but the opportunity exists and must be immediately acted upon. 

The Save the James Alliance (which we have followed in our posts of January 21, 2014, October 2, 2013 and October 14, 2012) has joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation in a coalition taking on Dominion Power and ACOE (which is fast tracking the permit for Dominion). Several senators have weighed in on this, including Dianne Feinstein of California, in support of the Coalition's efforts. As we were advised by Sharee Williamson, Associate General Counsel of NTHP,  "The number of comments in opposition really does matter, so for every individual or group that you can encourage to send an independent letter, the more impact there will be." Please be among these.

The Alliance has produced a Fact sheet that frames the issues to help you with your message.

Please send your letters to:

Mr. Randy Steffey
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Norfolk District Office
803 Front Street
Norfolk, VA  23501 

RE:  Dominion Power Surry-Skiffes Creek Project

You can also email your message to Mr. Steffey.

Your message should specifically request that the Army Corps of Engineers deny Dominion Power's application for a Section 404 permit for this project.
Comments can also  be posted at the NTHP website's Share Your Story tab.
For more details on how the ACOE must conduct its review for the 404 permit, please go to information offered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: Protecting Historic Properties:A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO SECTION 106 REVIEW
Here is an example of language in letters already sent:

"This proposed project would also compromise the learning experience of thousands of schoolchildren and international and national visitors that annually gain a better understanding of the origins of our nation and the relevance of the archeological discoveries that are made almost daily by the Jamestown Rediscovery Project with the cooperation of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Smithsonian Institution. It would interfere with needed perception and appreciation of the circumstances and situation of our earliest pioneers at the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Their lives, customs, work and religious practices are becoming better known and new stories are unfolding from the relics and artifacts being recovered from that archaeological dig, now ending its second decade.

"Dominion Power has excellent technological and economical underwater alternatives for achieving its energy transmission needs that are well proven in Long Island, New York, Canada and other places in the world (and planned for the Hudson River and San Francisco Bay) that need not have the undesirable results that its current proposal would create.

"We owe much to what those early Virginia settlers accomplished and should take a strong interest in opposing this project. Among what we owe them are for how they began and evolved the American westward expansion in the 17th century; created our real estate industry by the land grants of private property to common persons (men and women, including my ancestors); and established basic elements of our successful governmental system that were adopted into our Constitution several decades later.

"Jamestown’s founding, however, has a much deeper meaning than merely being one of our national origins. It was the seminal incident that introduced the opportunities to innovate many profound social, political, and economic tenets that have come down to us through our history. Their lasting effect is what has differentiated Jamestown from other preceding or contemporary English and European settlements in America."


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