For Immediate Release: 08/23/06
Developers Illegally Bulldoze National Park Service Land at Harpers Ferry
Historic School House Ridge Battlefield at Harpers Ferry Violated This Past Weekend
(Harpers Ferry, W.Va.) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) issued a statement today in response to the illegal bulldozing of a portion of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park this past weekend by a handful of local developers. Purposely and without permission, the developers dug a deep trench through historic land owned by the National Park Service and the American people.
"Beginning on the morning of August 19, 2006, a group of local developers moved heavy machinery and work crews onto the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and proceeded to lay water and sewer pipes on historic land where Stonewall Jackson launched one of the most brilliant tactical triumphs of the Civil War," said CWPT President James Lighthizer. "The developers had neither authority nor the permits necessary to do this."
The purpose of the water and sewer line is to facilitate a planned development of approximately 3,400 houses proposed for construction both inside and adjacent to the Park Service boundary. To date, the developers have not received any local approvals necessary for this development to proceed.
"These developers knowingly and defiantly ignored federal laws regarding construction on public land," said Joy Oakes, Senior NPCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. "Americans have a right to expect that land protected by the Park Service cannot be bulldozed outside of an orderly and legal review. We encourage federal and state law enforcement officials to pursue these violators to the fullest extent of the law."
For several years, CWPT and NPCA have been leaders in an extraordinary and successful effort to protect historic lands at Harpers Ferry. With the support of local business owners, civil rights leaders, conservationists, history buffs, recreation enthusiasts, heritage tourism interests, and elected officials, Congress expanded the park's boundary in 2004. Millions in federal grants as well as private funds have been raised to purchase land from willing sellers to add to the national park.
"We are horrified at this premeditated and unprecedented desecration of School House Ridge," said Lighthizer. "For several years, CWPT and NPCA have been working with federal and state officials to protect this property. Last year CWPT appealed to our members to help raise the $1.5 million needed to acquire the site bulldozed this weekend for preservation. We are outraged, and expect immediate restitution from these developers."
As the developers were running their bulldozers last weekend, hundreds gathered from across the country to participate in a National Park Service-hosted commemoration of the centennial of a meeting at Harpers Ferry in 1906 that laid the cornerstone of the modern-day civil rights movement.
CWPT is a 75,000-member nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War sites and promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. Over the years, CWPT has saved more than 23,000 acres of hallowed ground, including 325 acres on the Harpers Ferry Battlefield.
Since 1919, the nonpartisan NPCA has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 325,000 members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation's natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.