“Journey” Takes Another Big Step

At last. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the designation of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a corridor running from Charlottesville to Gettysburg that encompasses presidential homes, Civil War battlefields and other historic sites, as a National Heritage Area. The measure now moves to the Senate for approval.

(For previous Bacon’s Rebellion coverage of the JTHG and its market-oriented approach to conserving Virginia’s northern piedmont, click here.)

Let’s hope the Senate can move faster than the House did. There is no time to lose in preserving this country’s previous historical heritage.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


11 responses to ““Journey” Takes Another Big Step”

  1. Groveton Avatar

    Dear Mr. “Tax and Spend” Bacon:

    Here is the verbatim summary language from the CBO Cost Estimate for H.R. 1483 – Celebrating America’s Heritage Act”.


    H.R. 1483 would establish six national herirage areas (NHAs), which are nonfederal lands and communities managed privately in conjunction with the National Park System. For each of the new areas, the bill would authorise appropriation of $1M annually, up to $15M over 15 years. In addition, the bill would increase the ceiling on authorizations of appropriations for nine existing NHAs.

    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that the National Park Service (NPS) would spend $6M in 2008 and $46M over the 2008-2012 period to implement H.R. 1483. An additional $60M will be spent after 2012. Enacting H.R. 1483 would have no significant impact on revenues or direct spending.

    The bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local or tribal governments.

    The entire cost estimate can be found here:


    You have continuously characterized The Journey Through Hallowed Ground as some sort of private initiative. In your most recent post you wrote, “(For previous Bacon’s Rebellion coverage of the JTHG and its market-oriented approach to conserving Virginia’s northern piedmont, click here.).”

    You routinely talk of the importance of localities paying their own location specific costs and then support a bill that would use millions of dollars of federal money for a very specific area in several states.

    You routinely speak of private property rights but support a bill that calls for the development of a “management plan” that ius clearly aimed at mandating land use policies on private property.

    See Section 2005 (Management Plan) of H.R. 1483 at:


    You rail against unelected transportation boards but support this bill and its requirement that an unelected “management entity” be established to write and manage the “management plan”.

    Your gushing support for this pork barrel initiative is wholly one sided. You fail to cite any possible problems with this legislation in spite of the fact that are numerous analyses that clearly present potential problems, including:



    Your positions on this matter are a great example of why the conservative movement is dying in America. You hold “conswrvative value” positions on some matters but then abandon those same values when you find a special interest group that you like.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I suppose that after Route 15 is forever preserved as an inadequate carriage trail we’ll have to go find a few thousand acres someplace else to put in a decent and much needed North / South Thruway.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Groveton, My positions on JTHG are why “the conservative movement in America is dying?” Take a deep breath and calm down.

    True enough, the National Heritage Area designation does come with $1 million a year in federal funding for educational purposes over several years. In my opinion, that part of the bill is the least defensible. I totally agree that Congress needs to rein in discretionary spending for non-essential missions, and I also think that Journey Through Hallowed Ground should raise its own funds. But that federal funding is not main the reason that JTHG is seeking the designation. The primary reason JTHG is seeking the designation is for the benefit that flows from the federal acknowledgment of the corridor as historically significant and worth conserving. That designation would be extremely helpful for the organization when raising *private* funds.

    As for the contention that any aspect of the bill would “mandate land use controls on private property,” that is simply wrong. The issue has been totally mischaracterized. Indeed, the misinformation disseminated by a number of conservative, property rights-oriented groups (including, yes, the hallowed Heritage Foundation) have forced me to re-evaluate anything and everything else I hear coming from those groups. All I can do is suggest that you go back and read my response to the Heritage Foundation’s critique of JTHG.

    Finally, we come back to the issue of conservation. Many, many residents of the Rt. 15 corridor want to preserve their lands and lifestyle from being swamped by cookie-cutter sprawl development emanating from the D.C. metro area. I don’t blame them. They have something worth preserving — not just for themselves, but for all Virginians (and Marylanders and Pennsylvanians). How, then, should they go about saving themselves?

    Well, one way would be to erect as many legal and zoning barriers as possible to growth. But that’s not the path chosen. The movers behind JTHG want to promote heritage tourism and niche agricultural production that can create land values that compete with private developers who want to build subdivisions. If you deny the validity of the JTHG approach, you leave them no option but the wholesale adoption of command-and-control government controls and the widespread violation of property rights. Either that, or you just tell them to shut up, crawl in a hole and submit to the slow-motion destruction of their way of life.

    Groveton, how would *you* propose the residents of the JTHG corridor go about preserving their lifestyle? We live in a less-than-perfect world, and the JTHG is less than perfect, but in my opinion it beats all the alternatives.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    … okay.. so don’t hit me for the Devil’s Advocate question..

    Why not have a “Journey through my special place where I live” program?

    There are lots and lots of places with “history” that is highly valued by the folks who live nearby especially if that designation of “history” might result in more greenspace/viewsheds and less cookie-cutter homes.

    I’m not begruding anyone the idea of preserving what they like about where they live – including ordinary open land that used to be farmed.

    But why the Route 15 corridor than say the Fredericksburg Area – which if you look at the Authorized Park Boundaries for the Civil War – it covers virtually the entire region.

    Even the most ardent preservationists down this way would acknowledge the futility of attempting to “protect from development” – ALL of the land designated as significant historic lands.

    If fact, much of the so-called ‘affordable housing” in the Fredericksburg Area is, in fact, built on designated historic land …

    We have subdivisions named Chancellor Retreat,Wilderness and Stuarts and Pelhams crossing, etc, etc,.

    Our historic “fate” was sealed in 1963 when I-95 was completed.

    From that point on – our “corridor” was commuters stampeding to build houses where once thousands of soldiers lay dead… and the likes of Lee and Stonewall Jackson.. walked.

    I’m not agruing that Route 15 should not be preserved but rather that when we go at preservation efforts in seemingly contradictory ways – it empowers those opposed to preservation in general and
    loses the support of much of the public and in the longer run – do efforts like the JTHG actually result in roadblocks for further preservation efforts in general?

    I think all folks interested and supportive of preservation – need to understand and acknowledge that preservation does not happen because of advocacy as much as it happens because it has much wider support from the public – and if such efforts lose the support of the public – much more has been lost than just one opportunity.

    and the first step to losing public support is to assert things that are later proven to be untrue.

    Any effort – no matter the good intentions – that results in the public beliving they have been misled – does much harm – because what you lose is your good reputation.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Larry, from what I can tell, JTHG is in no danger of “losing public support.” JTHG has huge support among the people who live in the Rt. 15 corridor. Just look at all the endorsements from municipalities and civic organizations. The only organized opposition to it comes from a couple of conservative Washington lobbies with a mission of protecting property rights — a group I normally sympathise with in the abstract, but find to be troublingly off mark in this case.

    There are any number of *very real* threats to property rights in the United States. Why scare up a threat with JTHG where none exists?

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    “Many, many residents of the Rt. 15 corridor want to preserve their lands and lifestyle from being swamped by cookie-cutter sprawl development emanating from the D.C. metro area. I don’t blame them.”

    If they want to preserve their land, no one is stopping them. The truth is that they want to preserve someone else’s land.

    Whether they do it by historical designation, zoning overlays, peer pressure, outrageious building regs, or whatever, makes no difference.

    As long as they get what they want at someone else’s expense.

    I’m surprised at Larry’s comments about losing public support. That is exactly the basis for many of my objections. “Any effort – no matter the good intentions – that results in the public beliving they have been misled – does much harm – because what you lose is your good reputation.” I agree whole heartedly.


    I also agree there is little organized opposition: the juggernaut and advertizing of power brokers is so huge there is little ordinary people can do to object effectively.

    Just yesterday, I had lunch with some people who asked about the Farm. After I explained the situation, there were four people sitting at the table, litterally with their mouths hanging open and shaking their heads.

    One said to me, “You know, I read about development and conservation issues in the paper, but I never heard it explained like this. I didn’t understand. What is happening to you is just wrong.”

    Sure, JTHG has a lot of public support, and they have the money to pay to make sure they get it. But public support is dirt cheap, compared to the cost of buying and controlling what you own.

    If they have a plan that ensures a good income stream to people in the area, then fine. If it turns out to be a one time payment to them, for an eternity of preservation, then I have a problem.

    So far the overall plan is not revealed, and incremental activism is a recognized cornerstone of the usual strategies in such cases. I don’t think we can say with certainty that no threats exist.

    I’d bet there is a good chance that 15 itself will be out of contention for improvement.


  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    well.. I doubt seriously if you took one of them Washington Post Polls that JTHG would register more than one percent.

    Except for the folks in the corridor itself, it’s way under most folks radar.

    so .. give the folks who are involved with JTHG full credit.

    First they did their homework at the grassroots level and got a diverse level of support from different communities of interest including the business community

    Then.. they got it sponsored and moved through Congress – which no matter how you cut it.. is a major accomplishment.
    so give them credit by calling it JTHG instead of “Yet another evil conspiracy to take Property Rights”.

    I threw in this last part for RH.


    I know in my county – there are two strong responses to efforts like the JTHG .. typical supporters and typical opposition.

    so far.. supporters outnumber the opposition with an even larger percentage either clueless or no opinion.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    I give the folks at JTHG full credit.

    They know exactly what they are doing and how to go about it.

    Whether it is right or wrong, fair or twisted, is another question entirely.


  9. Groveton Avatar


    I’m not hyperventilating. More like crying.

    Brave American men and women are dying in two separate wars with no end game strategy and Frank Wolf is buzzing around sponsoring legislation costing millions of dollars to “educate” people about the history of Rt 15.

    Oil is streaking to $100 / barrel while the government is asleep at the alternative energy switch and Frank Wolf is more worried about pork barrels than oil barrels.

    Our budget deficit has risen to unimaginable levels under a supposedly conservative Republican president and Frank Wolf is helping to make that deficit even bigger by spending $46M on what I guess are signs designed to help people understand the historical importance of a road.

    Our borders have more holes than Swiss cheese while the federal government stands by like a deer in the headlights and Frank Wolf spends his time on preservation projects that magically will not require any changes to people’s property rights.

    “Oopps, I’ve done it again” should be FEMA’s theme song as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in southern California by stages a fake press conference complete with FEMA employees pretending to be reporters and lobbing softball questions at a FEMA leader. Meanwhile, on the East coast, Frank Wolf is blowing as much smoke are the wildfires.

    The JTGH programs seems fatally flawed to me. Let me put forth my understanding and tell me where I am wrong:

    1. The key to JTHG is a document called a “management plan” that describes how JTHG will create a heritage area around a stretch of Rt 15.

    2. The “management plan” will be written by a “management entity” that will include people chosen by the JTHG Partnership – a legal entity already formed.

    3. The “management plan” has either not been written or has not been made public.

    4. The process for selecting the leaders of the “management entity” may (or may not) be included in the legal arrangements that describe the JTHG Partnership. However, the description of that process is not available for public review.

    5. The federal government is on its way to authorizing $15M for a “management plan” that doesn’t exist to be written by a undefined group called the “management entity” that will be formed by a mysterious partnership.

    If I have the facts wrong I’ll admit it. I’d love to read the “management report” if it exists. I’d love to read the process by which the “management entity” will be selected if that is available. I’d love to see the intended uses of federal funds if that budget can be seen.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Thank you Groveton.

    I’d say that pretty much sums it up. Surprising isn’t it, coming from the same people that call for so much “public participation” whenever there is something they don’t care for afoot?

    I was hoping someone would raise the issue of the fake press conference fiasco.

    There is another story, equally screwed up. Apparently NASA spent $3million and several years interviewing airline pilots. The ide was to get data on “near misses” that are not reported and try to do something before it is too late, as in the usual accident investigation.

    Apparently, NASA didn’t like the way the data was shaping up, so they pulled the contract, and ordered the data destroyed! congress got wind an ordered the contractor not to do it, but that was the last I heard.

    We at least deserve a government that doesn’t lie to us, or help others to.


Leave a Reply