Posted by: Ann Corcoran | February 7, 2011

Say NO! to Harriet Tubman state and national park in Maryland

…..It is backdoor federal and state control of your land!

Here we are suffering under both a state and federal budget crisis and there is a renewed cry to create a massive National Park in Maryland to celebrate underground railroad leader Harriet Tubman (whom we all agree is an American hero).  However, do we spend millions of federal and state dollars and take the property outright (or the  property rights) from anyone living in the ‘viewshed’ of this non-contiguous park comprised of thousands of acres simply to tell people what we already know—Harriet Tubman did great things.

As I read this article in Delmarva Now I found myself seething over the b.s. coming from Maryland Democratic Senators Cardin and Mikulski.

Before I get into the article, I want to tell you my story.

I live next to a National Park—the Antietam National Battlefield. We naively bought a farm adjoining the Civil War Park in 1985 and began a many year odyssey to keep that farm once a consortium of so-called “preservation” groups, our Democratic county commissioners, our Democratic governor (Schaefer) and our Democratic Congresswoman, Beverly Byron, went into a full blown battle with us—the farmers surrounding the park.

The most shocking thing we uncovered using the Maryland Public Information Act and the Freedom of Information Act was that this wasn’t simply a preservation plan—it was a plan to control the land use around the park so that developers associated with Governor Schaefer could create what they called the “Inner Harbor of the West.”

Bottomline, they needed to get control of the land—control the farmers so we wouldn’t do anything like hog farming to drive away the tourists and the big money people who would build a convention center and upscale second home development outside of the “viewshed.”  They needed to control the core—the attraction—for the development.  Taxpayers would then pay for the upkeep of the core.

As a result of our battle out here at Antietam, we helped other people for years to fight the National Park Service and their “preservation” and developer cronies across the country.

And, by the way, these sprawling parks—like the linear underground railroad—are called greenlining.  When the environmentalists couldn’t get federal land use planning in the 1960’s they shifted their strategy to greenlining whereby federal and state governments put ribbons of park land (rail trails are a prime example of this) through the countryside and then they eventually seek to control the land along the corridor they have created.

But, again, let me emphasize it is not to completely lock up the land but to control the land so that elitists, the politically well-connected and big money people may then tastefully develop and make money from the plan. (At Antietam there was actually a document, a plan that the Schaefer administration hid from the landowners entitled: Commercial and Second Home Development in Southern Washington County.)

I’m not saying economic development is bad.  It’s just that when governments and developers team up to cheat or trick landowners that’s where I object.  Our Founding Fathers would, I am positive, agree with me.

By the way, the strategy is always the same—they dupe those true historic preservation-minded citizens with this “preserving our heritage” mumbo jumbo into being shills for the plan.   What about our heritage of private property rights and limited government?

So, if you are still with me, here is Delmarva Now on the bill that was introduced by Mikulski and Cardin last Tuesday in Washington:

WASHINGTON — Plans for a 17-acre state park honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman are moving ahead, but Maryland’s senators are again pushing for something bigger.

In recognition of Black History Month, Democratic Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski have renewed efforts to establish the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park on the Eastern Shore, where Tubman was born and later escaped from slavery to become the best-known conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Legislation that Cardin and Mikulski introduced Tuesday, along with Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, also would create a national park for Tubman in Auburn, N.Y., where she was active in the women’s suffrage movement and in helping elderly African-Americans.

This is the third time since 2009 that lawmakers have pushed legislation to honor Tubman with a national park.

It’s not clear if this year’s bill has a better chance than the previous attempts, given the national focus on spending cuts.

Even without the federal park, the state of Maryland is going ahead with a $21 million dollar plan for the land they already own in Dorchester Country.   (Gee, I wonder if they got this through an insider trading deal, has anyone investigated?).

Whatever happens with the national park legislation, Maryland officials plan a 2013 grand opening for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Dorchester County.

The project, which will cost an estimated $21 million, now is just a plot of land with a state park sign. Officials expect to finish designs by this summer and begin building the visitors center by late fall, if they can secure $8 million.

Say NO!!!

And, then say NO!!! in Caroline and Talbot counties!   Thousands and thousands of acres for Harriet Tubman!  Do you know the entire Antietam National Battlefield is by comparison 3,244 acres.  There are still a few private landowners inside the battlefield park but they know there is only one buyer for their land in the future—-the federal government—because once your land is inside the boundary of a federal park, the US government has condemnation authority over you. You can do nothing with your property except what the federal government approves, or down comes the condemnation ax.

The Maryland park would include 2,775 noncontiguous acres currently within the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, though that land would have to be acquired. Nearly 3,000 acres with historically significant sites in Caroline and Talbot counties also would be eligible for inclusion in the park if private property owners established land conservation easements.

Landowners!  Do not allow the federal government to put a park boundary around your land!

By the way, check out this segment of the report from the National Park Service on the property in Dorchester County—they don’t even have conclusive evidence of where Tubman lived!

Harriet Tubman Birthplace, Dorchester County, Maryland. The place of Tubman’s birth is not known definitively, although it is assumed that she spent at least some of her childhood on the Brodess Farm in Bucktown. Recent archeological work at this site has been inconclusive, and the investigation is continuing. There are no Tubman-era buildings remaining at the site, which today is a farm. Adjacent to the Brodess Plantation is the 27,000 acre Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which contains natural features thought to be like those of Tubman’s time.

Bazel Church, Bucktown, Maryland. Organized as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1876, it was moved to the site, which may have been the location of open air-worship by African Americans in Bucktown during Tubman’s years in the area. Local tradition asserts that Tubman’s extended family worshipped at the church; she herself had fled north more than 20 years earlier. The Brodess farm is one-half mile away.

Don’t do it Andy Harris! The supposed tourism economic development is not sufficient to justify the taxpayer expense!  And, to Senators Cardin and Mikulski, people who don’t have jobs don’t contribute tourism dollars.

The bill doesn’t have a House sponsor. Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil co-sponsored it last year, but it’s unclear if his successor, GOP Rep. Andy Harris, will do so.

“This is of course an important issue to the congressman and he has met with stakeholders, such as the Cambridge mayor,” Harris’ press secretary, Ryan Nawrocki, said. “However, he is primarily focused on jobs right now and will allow the legislative process to work through the Senate first.”  [Hey, here is an idea, if the Dorchester mayor wants it, let the Dorchester citizens pay for it!]

The National Park Service cannot take care of the property it owns. Heck, at Antietam, historic structures are still not completely restored and it was designated a battlefield site in 1890!

The park legislation may face additional scrutiny in the GOP-led House Committee on Natural Resources, where lawmakers are concerned about the National Park Service’s $9 billion maintenance backlog. The park service said it is using $750 million in economic stimulus money to help pay for high-priority needs this year.

“They don’t even have the funds necessary to maintain the land that they currently have under their jurisdiction,” said Spencer Pederson, a committee spokesman.

Cardin doubletalk!   It won’t cost the federal government anything!

The bill would not require an increase in the National Park Service’s budget, he said.

“I don’t look at it as a bill that’s going to spend more money,” Cardin said. “We look at it as a bill that will preserve our heritage for future generations.”

Not going to cost anything?  They have already spent over 3 million federal dollars according to Delmarva Now!

The state park, meanwhile, has received $3.6 million in federal grants, and state officials have agreed to spend $8.6 million on the project. Additional funds may come through private donations or grants, said Matthew Ritter, chief of interpretation for the Maryland Park Service.

Property rights are a foundation of our Republic, Tea Partiers need to fight tooth and nail to preserve them.  Historic preservation does not trump the Constitution even when it supposedly brings tourism dollars (what a joke!)

For new readers: Senator Cardin recently angered western states and indirectly paved the way for endangered wolves to be introduced on federal land in Maryland and the state Dept. of Natural Resources would have no control over the wolf population.  Could there someday be wolves on the Harriet Tubman National Park (hmmm!)?


  1. […] area were worth preserving, it would have already been done by now. And, as fellow bloggers in both states point out, what other restrictions will be placed on those who live in areas surrounding the parks? […]

  2. […] told you about this before, here.  It may sound nice and benign, but it isn’t.   Once a National Park boundary has been […]

  3. […] visit but adjacent property owners would likely rue for the restrictions sure to come. Just ask this landowner about her […]

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