For Immediate Release: 11/15/00
Rare Arlington County Civil War Site Going to the Dogs
CWPT urges local officials to remove an unleashed dog exercise area from Ft. Ethan Allen, one of the last remaining earthen fortifications in Arlington County
(Arlington, Va.) - In a letter to the Arlington County Board, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) today urged local officials to remove an unleashed dog exercise area from the interior of Ft. Ethan Allen. The Civil War-era bastion, one of only two remaining in Arlington County, is threatened by the presence of an unleashed dog exercise area (DEA) located within the fort's earthen walls.
"The fort is literally going to the dogs," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "As desirable as a dog exercise area may be, it defies common sense to place one in a historic site - particularly one as fragile as an earthen fort."
According to Lighthizer, putting a DEA in the fort was a tragic mistake. When the exercise area was first introduced into the park in 1986, it was small and did little damage to the fort. Unfortunately, as the popularity of the DEA increased, so has its adverse impact on the fort. "The DEA cannot remain in its present location without destroying the integrity of the site," Lighthizer noted.
The situation began to reach critical mass in 1999, when the county enacted new standards for exercise areas. The new DEA standards require permanent fencing, a kiosk and concrete walkway, and several other structures - construction that might be appropriate for community parks and greenspace, but that is clearly incompatible with established methods of preserving historic resources. "The new structures are accelerating an already alarming rate of erosion within the fort," Lighthizer stated.
The county has a legal obligation to preserve and protect Ft. Ethan Allen," writes Lighthizer. "I urge the board to renew its commitment to preserving Arlington's remaining historic resources and remove the dogs from Ft. Ethan Allen - before it's too late."
With 35,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism.