WHAT ARE “NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS?”
by Tom DeWeese, American Policy Center, ©2018
(Sep. 18, 2018) — I have been pushing hard lately to let people know that, no matter how big and powerful the opposition, the assault from big government forces can be stopped. That’s why I want to tell you about a recent major victory in Louisiana where a wonderful, determined group of residents rose up and stopped the implementation of the Caddo Lake National Heritage Area. By the way, this is the second NHA we’ve stopped. The Crooked Road NHA in Virginia was successfully shut down by us a few years ago.
National Heritage Areas are one of the most despicable stealth land grabs in the nation. Here’s why. Americans love history. And we love preserving significant places that played an important role in the making of our unique nation. So when we hear of a new plan in our area presented offering a chance to preserve some of our local heritage we are interested and even supportive.
But, in this day of massive government control over so much of our land, our economy, and our basic ability to live free lives, we must be cautious and look at the details of plans, no matter how innocent or well meaning they may seem.
National Heritage Areas are such a concern because they are sold to residents as simply a means to honor historic or cultural events that took place in a specific locale. We are told that they will preserve our culture and honor the past, that they will preserve battlefields where our forefathers fought and died for freedom, and that they will preserve birth places, homes, buildings and hallowed grounds for posterity. Most importantly, we are assured that NHAs will help build tourism and boost local economies.
The residents affected by the Caddo Lake NHA were suspicious because so little information was being released about the project. Who was behind it? Where was the money coming from? Above all, what specific areas were going to be affected? So some determined residents did their homework. They learned the promises of increased tourism and boosts to the economy were, at best, empty. Rather, they learned NHA’s are little more than pork-barrel earmarks that endanger private property rights and local governmental powers. And a very specific danger is that Heritage Areas have very definite boundaries that come with very definite consequences for folks who reside within them. That’s because funding and technical assistance for Heritages Areas is administered through the National Park Service, a federal agency with a long history of hostility toward private landowners.
Private organizations and planning groups are the actual recipients of most of these funds supposedly earmarked for the Heritage Area. These entities operate as the promoters of the NHA in partnership with the Park Service. Eventually they form a commission or a “managing entity” to enforce the “vision” to implement the Heritage Area.
Typically such commissions consist of strictly ideological special interests groups. In the mix of these groups one will find all of the usual suspects: environmental groups, planning groups, historic preservation groups, all with their own private agendas – all working behind the scenes, creating policy. The managing entity then sets up non-elected boards and regional councils to oversee policy inside the Heritage Area that stretches over numerous communities and counties.
In many cases, these groups actually form a compact with the Interior Department to determine the guidelines that will make up a land use management plan and the boundaries of the Heritage Area itself. The management plan is their goal for how they envision the territory inside the boundary to be run. The plan will include guidelines for development goals, energy use, bike trails, undefined conservation controls, tourism, and anything else they want to control.
Now, after the boundaries are drawn and after the management plan has been approved by the Park Service, the management entity and its special interest groups are given the federal funds, typically a million dollars a year, or more, and told to spend that money to get the management plan enacted at the local level.
Read the rest here.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.