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Park service denies claim by jumper

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Like approximately 300 fellow BASE jumpers and more than 200 rappellers, 73-year-old Jim Guyer has been grounded from Bridge Day 2001. And he's fighting mad about it. "It broke my heart to talk to the folks at the Holiday Inn about the cancellation," Guyer, a resident of Hendersonville, N.C., said Friday. "There's going to be millions of dollars lost in economy for the local area."

"If they don't hold Bridge Day, they better stop every pro football game coming up Sunday," he continued. "What's the difference? It's absurd."

Guyer alleges the National Park Service is seizing the cancellation of this year's festival as a means of halting Bridge Day altogether. In fact, he says that in early September he talked to an assistant superintendent for the New River Gorge National River named West, and that West said the NPS "wanted to get rid of it (Bridge Day) anyway."

Henry Law, assistant superintendent at the local NPS headquarters in Glen Jean, said it was he who talked to Guyer, and Law refuted Guyer's interpretation of his remarks.

"That's totally untrue (that he said the NPS wanted to abolish Bridge Day)," Law remarked. "The National Park Service is not in any way, shape or form trying to shut Bridge Day down.

"The decision to cancel it this year was with the Bridge Day Commission. We have one person on that. We're not the overriding factor."

Guyer has recently been twice denied by the NPS in his quest for a permit to skydive from El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park, decisions he's appealed to the Department of the Interior. And he's been vocal to various lawmakers concerning his displeasure with the NPS.

"The NPS wants to have control over the people," Guyer said.

"I was simply trying to give him (Guyer) a nice piece of advice," Law remarked. "I told him that if he continues in the courts, it may affect future activities in all national park properties, including Bridge Day.

"He (Guyer) believes what he wants to hear."

Guyer, an engineer who first began parachuting a half century ago but only recently took up skydiving and BASE jumping activities, participated in Bridge Day 2000, his first.

In place of a full-fledged Bridge Day, Guyer - a Korean War veteran and a retiree from Phillip Morris Co. - has proposed to Fayette County Sheriff Bill Laird that a scaled-down Bridge Day ceremony be staged Oct. 20, one that would allow five people to jump off the bridge in a symbolic gesture, as well as having a short, patriotic-themed ceremony to honor those felled by recent terrorist attacks.

© The Register-Herald 2001

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