Support Eroding for Rep. Frank Wolf’s Journey Through Hallowed Ground Heritage Area; Alternative Measure Gains Backing of Two Congressmen in Affected Area

Washington, D.C. – Support for Congressman Frank Wolf’s controversial Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act (H.R. 319) continues to erode, reports The National Center for Public Policy Research. Two Congressmen are cosponsoring an alternative measure that, unlike Wolf’s bill, would protect property owners. 

Congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA), who had cosponsored the Wolf initiative in the previous Congress, has chosen not to do so in the current Congress.  Both Rep. Goode and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) recently decided to cosponsor an alternative Heritage Area proposal put forth by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD).  Bartlett’s bill (H.R. 1270) promises to protect property rights and limited local government where the Wolf bill would endanger both.

Specifically, Rep. Wolf’s legislation would create a 175-mile long preservation zone, stretching from central Virginia (Rep. Goode’s district) through Maryland (Rep. Bartlett’s district) to southern Pennsylvania (Rep. Bill Shuster’s district), where land use and property rights could be restricted.  The bill would give the National Park Service and preservation interest groups, many with a history of hostility towards property rights, substantial influence over land use planning in the region.  The interest groups and the Park Service would create a land use “management plan” for the area, and then disburse federal moneys to local governments to promote the plan.

Congressman Bartlett’s measure would also create a National Heritage Area.  However, it would focus more on bestowing special recognition upon the area and promoting historic education and tourism within the region.  Unlike the Wolf bill, the Bartlett plan would not earmark millions of dollars for wealthy special interests, nor give those interests undue influence over local land use decisions.

Rather than work out a consensus plan that satisfies all affected constituencies, Rep. Wolf is trying to ram his bill through the House of Representatives before Rep. Bartlett’s measure can receive due consideration.

“Never before has a congressman attempted to force-feed his colleagues a National Heritage Area designation in this manner,” said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center.  “Congressman Wolf should recognize that not everyone shares his appetite for pork-barrel earmarks and special interest land use planning.”

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For more information on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground proposal, 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

Assertions vs. Reality: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006,” by Peyton Knight

“‘Local Support’ for Congressman Wolf’s Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Bill Largely Smoke and Mirrors,” Press Release, November 2006

Did Frank Wolf Earmark Funds to Aid His Own Legislative Initiative?,” Press Release, October 2006

Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act Adopted by House Resources Committee Despite Unresolved Problems,” Blog report, March 2006

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.