Captain John Smith visited Prince William in 1608, so…

…we should be interested in how the National Park Service plans the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, stretching from Hampton Roads to Great Falls (up the Potomac River) and to the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay.

The alternatives for the trail’s first long-range management plan are now available for public review and comment.

Now would be a good time to suggest that, under any one of the four alternatives, the US Fish and Wildlife Service should open up Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge to public use.

The Federal agency says “Currently, the refuge is closed to the public because of poor access to the site due to the rail line, its proximity to the river, and lack of facilities.”

The rail line issue is bogus.  The Rippon VRE station has provided safe and convenient crossing of the railroad tracks for years.

Proximity to the river is a reason to OPEN the refuge.  Gee, visitors might even get a meaningful watershed educational experience.

As for lack of facilities… put in two porta-potties and declare success.  Visitor centers are nice, flush toilets are nice, indoor seats next to glass windows so visitors can stay warm while watching tweety birds at the feeders outside are nice – but access to the site is essential.

The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, but the “Public Land – Keep Out” sign at Featherstone NWR remains.    (If Mikhail Gorbachev led the US Fish and Wildlife Service, maybe we could hope for the American public to get access to the refuge…)

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