John Hennessy, who as chief historian for the Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville/Wilderness/Spotsylvania battlefield complex, knows a bit about battlefield preservation, also left a very succinct and well-put comment on the post where I described the ill-advised and wrong-headed policy declaration by the BSF. John began by quoting the BSF statement, drafted to supposedly allay our concerns that the BSF is on top of things, and then reacted to it:
“Frequently landowners are required to obtain permits before making improvements or undertaking certain agricultural activities. We view the permit process primarily as an issue between the landowner and the governmental agency exercising legal or regulatory authority over the matter.”
While anyone may choose to view the permit process as an issue between the landowner and the agency, the law in play here–Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act–views it VERY differently. The law REQUIRES the permitting agency (in this case the Corps) to seek the input of the public in its review of projects. The law is written to encourage precisely the sort of public input that BSF has apparently eschewed.
Preservation groups have very few legal tools at hand to accomplish preservation; section 106 is by far the most useful. The idea that a preservation organization would publicly proclaim its intent NOT to use the major legal tool at its disposal might well be unprecedented.
Well said, John, and an excellent description of precisely how badly the BSF has strayed from its stated mission of protecting the battlefield.
The board of the BSF, in its rush to appease Tony Troilo, failed to consult with its pro bono legal counsel to determine whether there might be a regulatory impact (or weapon to use to prevent) of the destruction of Fleetwood Hill. Mr. McKinney and his board clearly know nothing of, or care about, the tools that are available to protect the battlefield. How can someone possibly serve as the president of a battlefield preservation group, but yet be as clueless about the fundamental governing regulations and the tools available as Mr. McKinney appears to be?
The arrogance of the president and board of the BSF is truly staggering. Thanks for pointing that out so eloquently, John.Scridb filter