Tag Archives: Department of the Interior

Company Wants to Mine Fort Anne Battlefield


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A battle is brewing in Fort Ann, Washington County. Troy Topsoil has purchased part of Battle Hill, the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Fort Anne. The company hopes to mine the battlefield, where an estimated 100 to 200 men were killed, wounded, or captured.

A group of historians and volunteers has planned a day of events to highlight the history of the Battle of Fort Anne, including an afternoon roundtable discussion on the current threat to the battlefield this Saturday, April 28th at Fort Ann Central School.

“This place has remained undisturbed for over 235 years, then Troy [Topsoil] obtained the property and has cleared out trees, built roads, installed culverts and drilled wells, in order to operate a sand and gravel pit,” Fort Ann Town Historian Virginia Parrott, who opposes the project, told me, “To most people in town including the Fort Ann American Legion Post 703, this is a desecration of sacred ground as people have fought and died here in the name of freedom, and are buried on Battle Hill.” [You can read more about the history of Battle Hill here].

“That whole hill is a battle site,” Parrott had previously told the Glens Falls Post-Star. “There was thousands of troops there. We’re not talking about a little group of soldiers … like Roger’s Rangers that went out with 10 or 12 people. We’re talking about Burgoyne’s entire army.”

Anthony Grande, speaking for the mining company, said an archaeologist report commissioned by his company showed no one was buried in the area targeted for the open pit mine. “The battlefield is south of me where there is an issue,” Grande told the Post-Star. “It’s definitely south of there, probably 3,000 to 4,000 feet. I’m not exactly sure.” The company is seeking to open a 30 to 40-acre mine on Battle Hill.

Several historic sources report that at least six men are buried at Battle Hill according to Parrott, who has been town historian since 1975. The site has never been listed on state or national registers of historic places, although the Town of Fort Anne installed a plaque at the site in 1929 and the American Legion places flowers on one of the graves each year. The lack of established protection for important American battlefields is common. “Of the nation’s 243 Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields, 141 have been severely impaired or destroyed” a recent report by the Department of Interior’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) concluded (2007).

Battle Hill was classified as a Principal Battlefield, Priority 2, Class C site in that report, meaning that it was home to a “nationally significant event” and the “site of a military or naval action that influenced the strategy, direction, or outcome of a campaign or other operation.” Furthermore, the report found that “The endangered Class C sites in this category should be the focus of immediate and direct preservation measures by state and local governments and organizations. These sites may not survive without immediate intervention.”

Tanya Grossett, surveyed the battlefield in 2001 for that report and concluded, with help of Jim Warren of NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and Chris Martin of NYS Archives and Records Administration, that the quarry does fall within the core of the battlefield. Paul Hawke, director of the American Battlefield Protection Program concurred with that finding after a tour of the site last Tuesday.

The land is owned by Gino Vona. According to a story last week in Post-Star, “Vona said he’s offered to donate a small sliver of the site, about 20 or 30 acres, for preservation and he questions whether stalling a project that could create jobs, for the sake of historic preservation, is an appropriate governmental move.”

“These men fought against the king who was taking their things. Many of them were just regular, hard-working people,” Vona told Post-Star reporter Jon Alexander, “Aren’t we talking about doing the same thing?”

The company had applied for a permit to mine the location in August 2009 which did not include a state Historic Preservation Office review and was denied. The company submitted a new application at the end of 2011. The public will be able to comment on the project officially after the application is ruled complete by the NYS Department of Conservation.

The event on Saturday is sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society and will feature Author Karl Crannell, Fort Ticonderoga Chris Fox, Kingsbury historian Paul Loding, and Matt Zembo from Hudson Valley Community College.

The event will begin run from 11 am to 4 pm. There will be a memorial service at Noon; the roundtable discussion will follow at 1 pm at the Fort Ann Central School Auditorium.

Study: NY National Parks Support Economy


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A new National Park Service (NPS) report concludes that 17,389,242 national park visitors in New York in 2010 spent $490,911,000 and supported 5,780 jobs in the state.

Most of the spending/jobs are related to lodging, food, and beverage service (52 percent) followed by other retail (29 percent), entertainment/amusements (10 percent), gas and local transportation (7 percent) and groceries (2 percent).

The figures are based on $12 billion of direct spending by 281 million visitors in 394 national parks and nearby communities and are included in an annual, peer-reviewed, visitor spending analysis conducted by Dr. Daniel Stynes of Michigan State University for the National Park Service.

The National Parks in New York include: African Burial Ground National Monument, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Castle Clinton National Monument, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fire Island National Seashore, Fort Stanwix National Monument, Gateway National Recreation Area, General Grant National Memorial, Governors Island National Monument, Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Saint-Paul’s Church National Historic Site, Saratoga National Historical Park, Statue of Liberty National Monument, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, and Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

Across the U.S., local visitor spending added a total of $31 billion to the national economy and supported more than 258,000 jobs, an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs over 2009 the report concludes.

The report is available online; click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010. The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

The Status of Heritage Area Reform Legislation


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The National Heritage Areas Act of 2012 (H.R. 4099) introduced to Congress on February 29, 2012 is expected to support the work of four National Heritage Areas in New York State. U.S. Representative Paul Tonko (NY-21) and Charlie Dent (PA-15), co-chairs of the Congressional National Heritage Area Caucus, introduced H.R. 4099, a bill to reform and modernize the nation’s National Heritage Areas (NHA). The bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources’s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands on March 1.

Six U.S. Representatives from New York joined Congressman Tonko (NY-21) as an original sponsor on the bill that would affect the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, and Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

U.S. Representatives from New York signing onto the legislation as original sponsors were Eliot Engel (NY-17), Richard Hanna (NY- 24), Maurice Hinchey (NY-22), Chris Gibson (NY-20), Nan Hayworth (NY-19), and Nita Lowey (NY-18).

“The heritage-rich 21st Congressional District helped write our nation’s history,” said Congressman Paul Tonko. “A sense of place stands as a persuasive tool in the very competitive sweepstakes for jobs. Business decision makers are often attracted to a region that expresses significance, including its historical fabric. Therefore, by deepening heritage awareness and understanding a sense of place we are more marketable for jobs. A more defined sense of place provides an important tool in the tool kit for economic recovery.”

The National Heritage Area Program is an initiative of the Department of the Interior which relys on a public-private partnership; federal dollars are matched with an average of $5.50 in other public and private funding. “Heritage areas have a proven record of fostering job creation and advancing economic, cultural, historic, environmental, and community development,” according to a prepared statement issued by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. “In addition to creating jobs, NHAs generate valuable revenue for local governments and sustain communities through revitalization and heritage tourism.”

The legislation takes a new approach to heritage areas by establishing for the first time a standardized set of criteria for the designation of new NHAs and the review of those previously authorized. “Having a clearly defined structure to oversee the management of heritage areas will allow these popular public-private partnerships to better preserve the nation’s heritage and spur economic growth with minimal federal support,” the statement said.

Similar proposals to reform and modernize the program had been recommended by both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Women’s Rights History Trail Bill In Congress


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The Hudson Valley Press Online is reporting that a bill is making it’s way through Congress to establish an Women’s Rights History Trail linking New York State sites, expand the National Register of Historic Places’ online database, and “Require the Department of Interior to establish a partnership-based network to offer financial and technical assistance for the development of educational programs focused on national women’s rights history.”

New York Senator Hillary Clinton will testify at a hearing in on July 30, 2008 in support of the National Women’s Rights History Project Act (S.1816), now before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.

The full story is here.