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"When a corporation makes a gift of land, it wants to make sure that the end result turns out to bear some resemblance to the original intent. That's why Union Camp worked through us on this. It wants the land preserved as a wildlife refuge, and that's what is going to happen."
In addition to public good will, Union Camp will receive a deduction of $12.6 million, the appraised value of its gift, from taxable earnings over a period of years.
When the land changes hands, the deed terms will require that "the ecological system of the swamp be preserved" under guidelines of the National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act of 1966. One of the men charged with seeing that this is done, Lynn A. Greenwalt, chief of the Division of Wildlife Refuges, calls the Union Camp gift "an exciting eleventh hour surprise" and says that although the pristine nature of the swamp was destroyed in the 1700s, the Government's goal will be "preservation of whatever natural swamp characteristics remain."
Public access via old canals or logging roads will be rigidly controlled, and hunting clubs will lose their leases. Under the wildlife refuge law any activity not specifically authorized is automatically prohibited.
"We don't intend to have the place loved to death," Greenwalt says, "but we are not going to discourage use unless the public poses a threat to what we are trying to protect." He plans to encourage scientific study of the virgin timber. Paved roads will be avoided like the plague.
Should the Interior Department erect a sign at the entrance to the Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, it might read something like this:
"Here lies a piece of the continent that has been saved. Perhaps it is not in the same condition as when the Indians lived around and in it, but there is still much to feast the eye on. Note the cypress, the black gum, the Atlantic white cedar, the oaks, ashes, maples, elms and loblolly pines. Note the switch cane, the greenbriers and swamp blackberries. Note the white-tailed deer, the black bear, the bobcats and river otters; the wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers and warblers."
And, it might add, think of George Washington and hope that he would approve of this final disposition of the land he once owned.