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The Crooked Road, Virginia’s heritage music trail, is up for consideration as a National Heritage Area, and that has musicians, tourism promoters and members of both major political parties all singing the same enthusiastic tune.
However, that’s not music to the ears of Liberty Confederation members.
The Tea Party group based in Southwest Virginia has condemned the proposal because they feel it would infringe on personal property rights.
According to the National Park Service, the National Heritage Area designation means the 19 counties (including Carroll and Grayson) and four cities (including mountain music mecca Galax) that comprise the Crooked Road region would be eligible for “public-private partnerships, leveraging funds and long-term support for projects that support historic preservation, conservation, recreation, tourism and educational projects.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), favors the effort, as does Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-Salem), whose 9th District includes Galax, Carroll and Grayson.
But there’s opposition, too, most notably from The Liberty Confederation, a self-described “coalition of liberty groups from across Southern Virginia.”
In a news release, Liberty Confederation Chairman Phil Spence says “We must ask Congressman Griffith and Senator Warner — is this is an order by decree?”
“Our own Virginia Declaration clearly says that there must be consent of the governed. Here we have a situation where the governed know nothing about what a National Heritage Area designation entails, not to mention that such a designation is bearing down on their right to use, enjoy and make their livelihoods in the manner in which they are accustomed on their own land,” Spence says in the news release.
The group also included with its news release a link to a 2007 paper on the Heritage Foundation’s website, entitled “National Heritage Areas: Costly Economic Development Schemes that Threaten Property Rights.”
Twelve public meetings were held across Southwest Virginia about the National Heritage Area proposal. The local meeting was held Aug. 2 in Galax at the Rex Theater, one of several Crooked Road-affiliated venues and events in the area. Others include the Blue Ridge Music Center and the annual Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention.
The Crooked Road group has released a summary of comments collected, and it includes several references to opposition to the proposal.
Click HERE to read the entire summary of comments from Crooked Road public meetings
The paragraph about opposition says:
“Opposition to the proposed designation was expressed by commenters at the Abingdon, Marion, Tazewell and Wytheville meetings, primarily by attendees who indicated they were either members or supporters of local Tea Party organizations. Some of those expressing opposition attended multiple meetings to express their opposition.
“The primary basis for their opposition appeared to be their belief that a Crooked Road National Heritage Area designation would result in land use restrictions that would infringe on private property rights. They also indicated that they felt a decision to pursue a National Heritage Area designation should be made by referendum, i.e., it should be voted on by residents of the 19-county, four-city region covered by the proposed designation.
Later in the document, the Crooked Road group responded to the concerns, acknowledging there had been impacts on property owners within a the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in Arizona, but arguing that the issue there was “action at the local level and not based on any federal action.”
The group wrote that, based on its mission, the Crooked Road “has never been involved in owning, managing or controlling property and has no plans to do so in the future.”
It also wrote that the public input meetings were intended to collect the feelings of residents and that no referendum is required.
Ultimately, creation of a Crooked Road National Heritage Area will require a vote in the U.S. Congress, which may be several years away.
According to a fact sheet from The Crooked Road, the music trail is proposed as a heritage area because “the musical traditions of Southwest Virginia have had an indelible impact on American music. That musical heritage reflects the mix of cultures brought to the region by settlers of European and African ancestry, and shaped over hundreds of years by life in the Appalachian mountains.
“Some of the greatest names in American music are from the region, including the Carter Family, Jim and Jesse, the Stonemans and Ralph Stanley.
“Just as important is the manner in which the musical traditions are interwoven into the everyday fabric of life for the region’s residents.”