Former Superintendent questions park road maintenance

Booklady

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Location
New England
This is an interesting letter to the editor from former VNMP Superintendent Bill Nichols on what he is judging the lack of proper maintenance of erosion controls by the Park staff. It's resulted in a lot of current damage Park's roads, he says. Without preventative maintenance based on the "institutional knowledge" previous grounds maintenance staff had acquired, any road repairs will be a waste of money.

For some reason, the Vicksburg Post website won't allow me to copy a bit of the letter, but the full text is here: https://www.vicksburgpost.com/2021/...superintendent-speaks-on-park-road-solutions/

So, is poor management of the grounds the problem, or is it money? Or is it lack of staff due to Covid or, again, money?

Has anyone traveled or walked or ridden a bike in the Park recently? Can you post photos of the erosion and damage?
 
Joined
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Location
Southwest Mississippi
So, is poor management of the grounds the problem, or is it money? Or is it lack of staff due to Covid or, again, money?
Money has been an issue for two decades.

I'll refrain from discussing current "management".

But Covid has nothing to do with what has happened to the roads within the VNMP.
IMO, basic preventive maintenance stopped around 2010.

Again ... Just my opinion.
 

Booklady

Sergeant
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Location
New England
Seems like a pretty gutsy move by Bill Nichols to take them to task so publicly...that is, if anyone still reads the Post. :unsure:
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
2010....had Mike Madell left at that point?
Honestly, I have no idea.

All I can speak about was having a yearly (all access) National Park Service pass during that era.

I was up there a couple times every month.
( It was only about a 90 minute drive up HWY 61 from Natchez ... depending on traffic) .

However, back then ... everything in the Park was very well maintained.
 

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Wow! That is some devastating accusations! I generally walk through the park every weekend, but I generally stay in the central and southern parts of the park, i.e., between the south loop and Graveyard Road. I haven’t seen any severe damage in those parts. Interestingly, it is still free to get into the Park — even though the Visitor’s Center is now open.

But it is my understanding that most of the damage is around the national cemetery. I was at the Cairo this past Sunday and also noticed the road going up to the Naval monument and eventually to Grant’s Circle was still closed. I know that section has been closed for quite a while now.

At any rate, the initial damage was caused by severe weather that occurred a good year or two before Covid ever graced us with its presence. So, the pandemic was not the initial cause, but putting most of the maintenance folks on furlough for so long during the pandemic could not have helped matters at all. Additionally, the Federal shutdown back in 2017 or so undoubtedly complicated things, too.

It’s a shame someone had to go public with all this, but if he is right about the situation perhaps it will cause the Park to reassess its present practices. I thought it curious he did not mention Friends of Vicksburg Park. Perhaps, the letter was meant to raise their awareness of the issues there, too. Who knows….

Thanks for posting the article.
 

mt155

First Sergeant
Annual Winner
Joined
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Location
Clear Lake, Texas
These are some of my images use by The American Battlefield Trust for their Hallowed Ground issue that feature the erosion issue. All images were taken in November 2020.

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redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
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Location
Hoover, Alabama
When the forum had their muster there in 2019, there had been a storm resulting in a number of roads being closed by fallen trees, land slides and erosion. It also appeared to me (in my opinion only) that Vicksburg NMP didn't get the level of maintenance that other NMP did.
 

James N.

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When the forum had their muster there in 2019, there had been a storm resulting in a number of roads being closed by fallen trees, land slides and erosion. It also appeared to me (in my opinion only) that Vicksburg NMP didn't get the level of maintenance that other NMP did.
I too recall the damage and how we had to detour around parts of it during our stay. Of course one big difference between Vicksburg and almost any other NMP is the loose soil or loess that the city and everything around it including the park is built upon; it's little wonder that slides and cave-ins like those around Fort Hill and the National Cemetery have occurred.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Of course one big difference between Vicksburg and almost any other NMP is the loose soil or loess that the city and everything around it including the park is built upon; it's little wonder that slides and cave-ins like those around Fort Hill and the National Cemetery have occurred.
Very true.

Moreover, 65 miles south of Vicksburg ... the entire town of Natchez, Mississippi is built on top these bluffs, and has had more than a few deadly "mud slides" "cave-ins" and such throughout that town's history.

About 20 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the Natchez Bluffs Stabilization Project.

http://www.dappolonia.com/pdfs/pprofile43.pdf

They were very successful.

So ... it seems we have the technology, but perhaps lack of National Park Service funds ?
 

ucvrelics

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Vicksburg has to be one of the top NMP that has to have continued maintenance and a LOT of it. I'm not defending the park folks as it has gotten worse over the last 5 to 7 years. One thing you have to remember is that before and during the siege, tons of dirt was moved to build Redans, gun emplacement, trenches etc as well as all the tunnels and caves dug by the locals to escape the artillery. Then after the war it just sat and erosion took it toll. Then when it was decided to make the park many more tones of dirt was moved. Roads and bridges were built. Most of the major monuments were built up and terraced for the monuments. None of the roads are on original soil. It only reasons that you have to stay on top of it and that comes from the superintendent.
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redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
Vicksburg has to be one of the top NMP that has to have continued maintenance and a LOT of it. I'm not defending the park folks as it has gotten worse over the last 5 to 7 years. One thing you have to remember is that before and during the siege, tons of dirt was moved to build Redans, gun emplacement, trenches etc as well as all the tunnels and caves dug by the locals to escape the artillery. Then after the war it just sat and erosion took it toll. Then when it was decided to make the park many more tones of dirt was moved. Roads and bridges were built. Most of the major monuments were built up and terraced for the monuments. None of the roads are on original soil. It only reasons that you have to stay on top of it and that comes from the superintendent.
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While the NPS does a great of excellent work, you have to question some of their moves such as when we were told by a local that they had reportedly filled in the sunken road at Shiloh for some reason.
 
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James N.

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Very true.

Moreover, 65 miles south of Vicksburg ... the entire town of Natchez, Mississippi is built on top these bluffs, and has had more than a few deadly "mud slides" "cave-ins" and such throughout that town's history.

About 20 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the Natchez Bluffs Stabilization Project.

http://www.dappolonia.com/pdfs/pprofile43.pdf

They were very successful.

So ... it seems we have the technology, but perhaps lack of National Park Service funds ?
Those cave-ins have almost totally obliterated the infamous section known as Natchez-Under-the-Hill which was right along the river and as the name suggests was on land below the top of the bluffs upon which the "real" town was built. This was the "colorful" part of town where most of the gambling dens, saloons, and bawdy houses were located, mainly to cater to the enormous river trade because here was where all riverboats stopping at Natchez were forced to land. It was also the most likely place to find some of Natchez' more notorious characters and visitors such as knife-fighter Jim Bowie and others of his ilk.
 
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