by Kent Anderson
page three





Chapter Three (Continued)

Juanita Wampler

Like Arlie Swinney, the Wamplers are listed as willing sellers, but Juanita Wampler wishes she had never moved from her former land near Brush Creek. About four years ago, at a meeting at the Faith Baptist Church, a lands acquisition forester explained that the. Forest Service wanted much of the land along Brush Creek Road for the purpose of eventually constructing campgrounds. No mention or explanation of easements was presented at that meeting, according to Juanita and, shortly thereafter, she began to experience pressure from the Forest Service to sell. She said the Forest Service threatened her by always concluding their sales offer with "we'll get it anyway" remarks about the potential use of condemnation. Her husband was truly indifferent to the land acquisition plan and did not mind moving at all. Thus, the Wamplers finally moved from their land about one year ago and even though their acreage increased from two and one-half to nearly eight, Juanita is not happy to be living in a mobile home near Pries. It used to be a ten minute drive to her mother's house, but that is a trip which now takes forty minutes. She believed that many of her former neighbors sold their land because they were fearful of the large influx of campers which the growing NRA would produce. Juanita Wampler is so angry at having left her former home that she cannot return to the area to this day. 12

Roy Johnson (Photo 30)

Roy is a cousin of Larry Pierce and had three brothers who all lost their land to the Forest Service in the past decade. Roy's brother, Hurley, received a Declaration of Taking for his 80 acres near Comers Cree in 1974. His brother, Percy, was a disabled veteran with a nervous disorder and who Roy believes was pressured into signing a sales agreement. When Roy found out how much was paid to Percy, he said that he would have purchased the land himself for such a low price. The experience of his brother Clydie, who died last November, further convinced him that the USFS does not offer fair market value for the land it desires. Clydie Johnson received a DT for part of his land in the Fairwood region and, after appealing the price the government deposited for his property, was awarded more than double the price the USFS had said his acreage was worth. Roy Johnson is a retired telephone worker who has two parcels of land in separate locations. Currently, about one-half of his land has been put an a willing-seller basis of acquisition by the Forest Service, but Johnson does not want to sell. He is particularly annoyed by the surveying methods of the foresters whereby they have painted bright red stripes upon some of his trees. After the experiences of his brothers, Roy Johnson said he would not trust anything the Forest Service might communicate to him. 13

Earl and Orra Jackson

The 56 year old Earl Jackson (Photo 31) lives with his 77 year old mother, Orra, off state road 602 in a house of which part of the foundation dates back 100 years. Jackson is 95% disabled from an industrial accident and would like to retire on his mother's 100 acres and start raising a few head of cattle. All that he grows now is a little corn and hay, but he is especially proud of the golden pheasants he has raised. The Forest Service, though, wants a good chunk of his best pasture land for the previously mentioned two and one-half mile connecting road from 602 to Bournes; Branch which would cross part of the Jacksons front lawn (Photo 32). Orra Jackson is seriously ill and several times lands acquisition foresters have approached her to buy part of the land, once while-she was recovering from a stroke. Earl said it was fortunate that he was present at each occasion due to his mother's nervous condition and he finally asked the foresters to stop harassing his mother. Earl's extended family exemplifies same of the problems which develop when some family members want to sell their land while others are reluctant. Directly across from Orra Jackson is the land of a cousin of Earl's who wants to sell to the USFS. Earl said that his cousin offered the Forest Service $2,000 per acre for his land, but the agency declined that price. Nearby, off road 602, is the property of 90 year old Alice Jackson, sister-in-law of Orra. This beautiful farm (Photo 33) would have been largely submerged under water had all the originally proposed impoundments been built. Earl said that he was worried what an expanded NRA might do to local taxes, particularly with regard to the anticipated need to hire more police. A jump in property taxes of only several hundred dollars, Earl Jackson feared, could thoroughly disrupt the subsistence living of many of the inholders to the point where they might not be able to afford to stay on their land. 14

June Slemp (Photo 34)

June comes from one of the oldest families in the entire area. Her mother's side of the family was banished to the area by one of the Georgian Kings of England in the early 1700's. Her husband's family has been in the region so long that there is a Slemp Creek. The Slemps live in Marion now and are technically not inholders, but have been very concerned about the policies of the Forest Service. She reiterated that the paternalistic attitude" and insulting tone of the 1978 DEIS triggered widespread anger on the part of many locals. She said what was particularly offensive in the DEIS to many of the long-time residents was the social assessment summary, or first Rhyne report, completed in 1974, but not released until 1978. In part, that social report made the following generalization about the Southern Appalachian person:

He has a relative lack of skill in seeing or understanding the needs of others, particularly 'outsiders' which will be a hindrance to reacting to economic opportunities provided by the NRA.

June Slemp expressed pessimism about the future. She foresees more aggressive land acquisition and environmental damage. She said she can remember when Gatlinburg, Tennessee used to be a pretty town rather than the commonly-regarded eyesore it is today. She is worried that her Mount Rogers homeland is headed into the future toward Gatlinburg. 15

Virginia Parsons

The parents of Virginia Parsons' husband lost their land near Comers Creek via a Declaration of Taking in the mid-1970's. Her mother-in-law, 76 year old Vinny, suffered a nervous breakdown following their eviction and has been hospitalized five times since. Her father-in-law, 86 year old Ed, has also been very ill since the serving of the DT, but his sickness is more physiological in nature, according to Virginia. She described herself as "really unsatisfied" at the way the government has treated the former property of her in-laws. Ed had kept an antique wagon in excellent condition on the property which soon had two of its wheels stolen because the Forest Service refused to gate the road entrance to the property even though the Parsons family had requested that action. Since then, the USFS has put a locked gate at the access to their former land. 16

Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson's ancestors go back four generations in the area where he now lives near Elk Creek and Willie intends to stay where he is until he dies. The Forest Service, however, has listed much of his property as a "must acquisition" in the FEIS, a copy of which Willie never would have seen had not his neighbor, Jim Fink, given him his copy. Wilson is a proud man with a deep respect for the land of the area. He hunts not to kill, but only to eat what he slays. He is saddened and cannot understand why the Forest Service has deadened much of the hardwood (e.g. oak and hickory) near his land for the purpose of planting white pine seedlings. Don't they know, he asked, that hardwood and the fruit it bears (e.g. acorns and other nuts) are absolutely essential for much of the wildlife in the region? Wilson also considers himself deeply patriotic and recounted how he felt that the finest years of his youth were those he spent in the 82nd Airborne Division. He served both in Korea and at the Berlin Wall Crisis of 1961. Few inholders seemed as determined as Wilson to hold onto their land. Saying that he was not afraid to die, Willie Wilson swore that blood would flow down his road before he would ever leave his home. He said, "I was born here, I was raised here, and I intend to die here." By the end of his interview with this researcher, tears had welled up in his eyes. 17

Terry Parlier-Holmes (Photo 35)

Terry is an inholder, but that fact is incidental to the reason why she was included in this report. Terry used to work for the Forest Service from September, 1977 to June, 1978, but quit because she could not agree with what the Forest Service was doing around Mount Rogers. She left for two specific reasons: (l) the USFS land acquisition policies in the area which she called "brutal," and (2) safety reasons; specifically she was told to inject hardwood trees with a toxic dermal agent and not given any gloves for protection of the hands even though the cans specified that precaution. She said that she was ridiculed at safety meetings when she mentioned this. Coming out of college with a degree in forestry technology, Terry was immediately placed in charge of an entire crew. She had a bright future ahead of her in what had once been one of the most male-dominated agencies in the government, but, with extreme disappointment, she quietly resigned after less than a year of service. She has heard from friends in the USFS that the region in which she worked was regarded as somewhat of an aberration within the Forest Service and that in the western United States the USFS is much more respected by its neighboring citizens. Terry Parlier-Holmes hopes that such stories are true, but, for the moment, she does not intend to return and begin work again for the Forest Service. 18


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