Legal

 

Blair Mountain in West Virginia, site of the largest armed labor conflict in U.S. history, with the potential to be developed as a heritage tourism destination, would be obliterated by strip mining. | Credit: Harvard Ayers

Blair Mountain in West Virginia, site of the largest armed labor conflict in U.S. history, with the potential to be developed as a heritage tourism destination, would be obliterated by strip mining. | Credit: Harvard Ayers

Over the past few decades, standing decisions have increasingly hindered the ability to bring preservation issues into court. The National Trust has been involved in a number of standing cases over the years, including the recent state court litigation regarding cruise ship impacts in Charleston, S.C., and a case currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia regarding the de-listing of Blair Mountain from the National Register.

Blair Mountain in West Virginia served as the site of an unprecedented battle between American coal miners and mine owners in the 1920s. Today, the site is threatened by mountaintop removal mining. This method of mining would destroy valuable historic artifacts that have never been adequately surveyed or studied, as well as obliterate the landscape where the battle took place. In recognition of the site’s national significance, the National Park Service (NPS) listed Blair Mountain on the National Register of Historic Places, but then de-listed it months later, after a re-count of property owner objections was made at the urging of mining interests. The National Register listing had given the site an important increase in recognition and protection, because of the fact that federal coal mining laws are unique in providing additional protection to National Register-listed sites, as opposed to sites that are merely eligible for the National Register. Thus, the decision to de-list the property made it vulnerable again.... Read More →

About Sharee Williamson

Sharee Williamson is an Associate General Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

 

View of the C&O Canal |  Credit:  on Flickr via Creative Commons

View of the C&O Canal | Credit: on Flickr via Creative Commons

For almost 100 years in the 19th and early 20th century, the C&O Canal provided an important transportation route along the Potomac River. Today, almost 1,300 historic structures remain within the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, including many of the lockhouses that controlled the flow of commerce along the approximately 185-mile route. The size of the park, however, and the number of historic resources located within present a maintenance challenge for the Park Service.

Federal funding support for the Park Service has not kept pace with the maintenance needs over the years, and as a result the maintenance backlog across the entire National Park System has grown. Current estimates from the Park Service set the total backlog amount as $11.5 billion with $4.5 billion attributable to the unmet needs of cultural and historic resources alone. In the face of decreased federal funding, this backlog amount continues to grow.

Yet innovative programs and approaches are working to make a dent in the backlog.

... Read More →

About Sharee Williamson

Sharee Williamson is an Associate General Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Preservationists Claim Major Victory in Fight to Protect Mt. Taylor

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 by Will Cook

 

Mount Taylor, a traditional cultural property in New Mexico.| Credit: Theresa Pasqual

Mount Taylor, a traditional cultural property in New Mexico.| Credit: Theresa Pasqual

Historic resource designation often operates quietly as a first step in a long-term preservation strategy, but designation also sends a powerful and immediate signal that validates feelings of attachment that people have for a place. Opposition to designation—when it does arise—often comes from a lack of understanding about its legal effect.

The ongoing conflict about what designations mean to different constituencies was brought into sharp relief by a recent decision of the New Mexico Supreme Court involving Mt. Taylor, a mountain landscape of more than 400,000 acres in Grants, N.M.

Mt. Taylor, a National Treasure, is a pilgrimage site for more than 30 Native American tribes. It provides water to surrounding communities, a spiritual and recreational experience to visitors and residents, and is a beloved landmark visible from 100 miles away. It also contains one of the richest known uranium reserves in the country. Today, Mt. Taylor is threatened by two active mining claims and unlimited future mining potential.... Read More →

About Will Cook

Will Cook is an associate general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.