Category Archives: National Parks

Visiting Buford’s Massacre Battleground

Buford Massacre Site

When I first signed up for Nicole’s Sleepaway Writing Camp in Waxhaw, I knew I had to find Buford’s Massacre Battlefield. In Forests, Alligators, Battlefields, I wrote about this Revolutionary War battlefield in South Carolina where the Patriots were massacred by a British Regiment led by Banaster Tarleton.

But the battlefield isn’t a national park unit or a state historic site – hard to tell who protects it – so I never felt the need to search it out.

When I drove to the writing retreat, I stopped at the Museum of the Waxhaws and asked where the battlefield was. The first woman I spoke to didn’t have a clue and she had to bring out the historian. It turned out that the museum had a big display on Buford’s Massacre. Here’s the story:

Lt. Col. Banaster Tarleton on the British side meets Col. Abraham Buford with the Southern Continental Army on May 29, 1780. The American Patriots were badly beaten. But the legend is that Tarleton continued to slaughter the Americans after they surrendered.  This infuriated the Americans who came out in greater numbers for the Battle of Kings Mountain.

The site isn’t as obscure as I thought since my iPhone map app could find it. It’s south of Buford, SC on US 522. A field with a large sign, several monuments and plaques and a couple of graves. But one monument got my attention and was worth the search.

This monument was first erected on June 2, 1860.

Now why did the good people of Lancaster County wait so long to erect a revolutionary war monument? This was part of a movement to remember the revolutionary war just as the potential of a Civil War was heating up. I have seen similar monuments at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Cowpens National Battlefield and Kings Mountain National Military Park. The message was

If we could unite to beat the British, why can’t this country stay together now?

 

Letter to Rep. Ryan Zynke, nominee for Secretary of the Interior

U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke is in line to be the next Secretary of the Interior. He will be in charge of the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management among many other responsibilities. Though he hasn’t gotten the media attention of other Trump nominees, he’ll have a great impact on public lands, including those in Western North Carolina.

Here’s what I’d like to let Rep. Zinke know:

* I’ve read that you’re a big hunter and angler. You’re an outdoor person and that’s a huge advantage right here. You understand that outdoor pursuits can only be done on public lands and you’re going to manage a lot of acreage.

* Before I ask you to safeguard our public lands, I want to encourage you to get out there and experience them. You’ve probably seen Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. However, have you visited Stones National Battlefield in Tennessee, which has the first Civil War memorial?

Go to Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina where American Patriots trounced the British, the best world army in the world at the time.

Hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the nation. In 2016, 11,312,785 came to the Smokies. You should as well!

* Please understand that national park units, all 417 of them, not only protect and preserve wild land but also artifacts, battlefields, homes and building. That takes money. The National Park Service budget has shrunk from one-eighth of 1 percent of the overall federal budget to one-16th of 1 percent – from 0.125% to 0.0625%. Those are very small numbers.

WRBO - Danny on plane
Wright Brothers National Memorial

* The National Park Service also interprets its holdings. If visitors just saw Wright Brothers National Monument on the North Carolina coast, they would think that it’s a field of grass, no different from a piece of land in their neighborhood. So what!

It’s only because the National Park Service explains that in 1903 the Wright Brothers managed to get a plane in the air for the first time twelve seconds. The day’s last flight was fifty-nine seconds – an almost five times improvements.

* All lands need protection. But that takes money, money that you’re going to have to get from Congress. Our public lands need to be primarily supported by public taxes. We can’t depend on entrance fees, as important as that infusion has become. Besides, so many parks and wildlife refuges don’t charge. Friends groups are vital to our lands, but again, our government has to support our lands.

Ranger Jose L. Gonzalez

* Speaking of hiking, (and kayaking and birding), use your imagination and your energy to do something memorable your first year. You’re first and foremost an administrator who will manage over 70,000 people. But that doesn’t preclude actually using the land and setting a good example.

Last year, Cassius Clay, Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hiked a hundred miles in the Smokies with various groups for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. In so doing, he inspired 2,200 others to do the same and keep records.

I challenge you to find something of your own:

Visit and hike in several national parks in each NPS region, find an endemic bird in each region or experience at least one park unit for each war that the United States has fought.

In other words, get out there!

What do I do Monday morning?

In the Smokies

We got on a bus, we marched, we posted on Facebook, we talked and talked and preached mostly to the choir.

Please let’s not get fatigued. Let’s not retreat to our personal concerns. Now what do we do?

It’s up to us now because we can’t depend on our administration to care about our needs, dreams, and desires – not that we ever could.

From reproductive rights, public education, freedom of the press to funding for the arts and public lands, things are going to change and not for the better. And we need to control that change.

Here is what one organizer said

Without a clear path from march to power, the protest is destined to be an ineffective feelgood spectacle adorned with pink pussy hats.

I am not interested in running for public office, as this article implies, but I am ready to support those that are.

You are registered to vote, right? And you vote in all elections, right?

Girls in Colonial garb

An organization that asks the same question  has 10 actions in the next 100 days. However, you don’t need logins, passwords, and likes to make a difference. Here are some concrete actions you can take.

What are you passionate about?

*Choose one cause and really support it. Stay on top of the issues and not just on Facebook. Become a member of the organization and understand what’s at stake.

*Get the names and contact information for your senators and representatives. Keep it on hand and contact them regularly.

Here’s my example, just to give you something concrete.

I am passionate about our national parks. So…
I’m a member and supporter of Friends of the Smokies, and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

I volunteer my time. Every cause needs volunteers, regular, dependable volunteers. Most nonprofits just don’t have the money to hire the staff they need. Many times, a volunteer brings a different perspective to the organization.

I write to my representatives from time to time, just so they hear from me about national parks.

I email instead of call. With email or snail mail, I know that my message is being received correctly. Someone from their office always responds. It may be a canned response but it’s a response. The official knows that you’re paying attention.

It may be a small step but necessary. Here are my representatives in Washington. Who are yours?

Senator Richard Burr                      https://www.burr.senate.gov/
Senator Tom Tillis                            https://www.tillis.senate.gov/public/
Congressman Patrick McHenry  https://mchenry.house.gov/