BY TOM DEWEESE
For more than a decade I have been sounding the alarm on the dangers of National Heritage Areas. In fact, the American Policy Center (APC) is one of the only organizations to testify against them in congressional hearings.
National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are promoted simply as a means to honor historic or cultural events around the nation. Promoters promise that this will preserve our culture and honor our past as they preserve battlefields where our forefathers fought and died for freedom. And that they will preserve the birthplaces, home, buildings, and hallowed grounds for posterity.
In addition, proponents of NHAs promise that it will help to build a flourishing tourist industry to help local economies.
But none of that is true. Here’s why. My years of dealing with NHAs have shown me that they are simply a ruse to get conservatives to support federal land grabs.
You and I wouldn’t support efforts by radical environmental groups or national organizations like the American Planning Association to enforce policies that would lock away land or dictate how it’s used.
When an NHA is put into place, major tax dollars are distributed through the National Park Service. These funds are supposed to be used for the establishment of the Heritage Area. But not all are used for that purpose.
The Park Service gives much of that funding to private, non-governmental groups (NGOs) to use for their private agendas. Many of these groups are the same radical environmental groups that you and I fight every day.
And there is no accounting on how these groups spend that NHA money!
The NHA money goes into the NGO pockets, but it is not spent for historic preservation.
These groups use the funds to promote and pressure local city councils to impose Sustainable Development policies, lock away use of land and water, create conservation easements, build wind and solar farms, and all of the usual government dictates taking over every community.
There is a dangerous new Bill called the National Heritage Area Act (S.1942), just introduced to the Senate that will drastically change how a National Heritage Area is created.
Up till now, it required action by a member of Congress to propose a new NHA.
S.1942 will eliminate that, and instead, give the power to the Secretary of the Interior to simply designate new NHAs. If this is allowed to happen, then the entire process would basically take place in the back rooms of government.
The American Policy Center has successfully stopped three NHAs. If you and I join together in this fight we can kill S.1942 too, and perhaps end the stealth threat of NHAs once and for all.
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor – Tom DeWeese – is the President of the American Policy Center.