Nineteen counties in Southern Virginia are being included in a proposed Heritage Area called The Crooked Road National Heritage Area. The excuse for this new federal land control program is that it will honor and bring nationwide attention to the rich musical heritage of the area that was home to such famous acts as the June Carter Family. Plans call for a 300 mile Heritage Corridor that will connect nine major heritage venues and more than 50 affiliated music venues. Tourism and economic growth are the promises.
It all sounds so American until you begin to look at the details, including documents not open to the public, refusal to announce the plan to those in the affected area, and a hoard of federal agencies and special interest groups ready to suck up the tax dollars.
In desperation, local activists and scared property owners asked me to journey to the area and give them the facts on the dangers of National Heritage Areas. Below is what I told them.
National Heritage Areas. What does that term mean to you? We hear it a lot. There are many government programs dealing with historic preservation.
There is the Scenic Rivers designation. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative. And then there’s the National Register of Historic Places and the National Historic Landmarks Program, to name a few. By the way, National Heritage Areas are not to be confused with United Nations Heritage Sites. That’s a different animal.
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 as 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.
I’ve been studying them for about a decade, and have grave reservations. In fact, my organization, the American Policy Center, has been one of the only groups in the nation to testify in Congress concerning Heritage Areas.
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Tom DeWeese (photo) is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. Go to americanpolicy.org for more information"