Assertions vs. Reality: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006
by Peyton Knight
Analyses of H.R. 5195 and S. 2645, the House and Senate versions, respectively, of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006, frequently suffer from a number of misperceptions.
This paper is intended to illustrate and correct the most common of these misperceptions:
Assertion: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) National Heritage Area Act would protect property rights, or at least, not harm them.
Reality: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act would threaten property rights by:
- Creating a "management entity" to oversee land use policy in the area composed of groups that have a record of being hostile to property rights.
- Directing this management entity to create an inventory of all property it wants "preserved," "managed" or "acquired."
- Giving the management entity the authority to disburse federal funds for the purpose of land acquisition and restricting land use - an enticement for such activities.
Assertion: The JTHG Heritage Area Act does not allow for land acquisition.
Reality: Section 5(a) of the bill directs federal funds be used for land acquisition. Section 5(b) mandates that the "management entity" create a list of land to be targeted for acquisition.
Assertion: The JTHG Heritage Area Act would simply provide limited federal oversight and seed money until the Area becomes self-sustaining.
Reality: National Heritage Areas are permanent units of the National Park Service. Heritage Areas are perpetually funded and managed by the federal government.
Assertion: The desire to create the JTHG National Heritage Area is driven by local citizens.
Reality: The JTHG National Heritage Area is being driven by a group of preservation and tourism activists and lobbyists (the JTHG Partnership) who stand to benefit from the designation. Participation in the management entity, for example, would be limited to the JTHG Partnership. The bill also lacks a provision for properly notifying citizens within the area about the effort.
Assertion: The JTHG National Heritage Area "would simply recognize this region for its role in telling the American story."
Reality: The JTHG National Heritage Area would do considerably more than that. It would establish a process for the creation, approval and implementation of a management plan for the 175-mile corridor. Such a process isn't needed if the purpose is simply to confer recognition on the area.
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For more detailed information on the" Journey Through Hallowed Ground" proposal, please see "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area: An Example of How Pork-Barrel Politics Can Threaten Local Rule and Property Rights," by Peyton Knight.
Peyton Knight is director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research. He can be reached at [email protected].