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Bush administration sells out property rights

By Peyton Knight
web posted August 2, 2004

During his 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush repeatedly promised the nation that "Help is on the way." Property rights victims, especially those in Midwestern and Western states, cheered the President's message and came out in droves to support him on Election Day. Finally, there would be an end to the reckless Clinton regime that treated landowners like second-class citizens and barriers to radical green utopia. Or would there?

The Endangered Species Act is still thriving as the number one tool of federal agencies and green extremists to pry landowners from their property. Government land grabs continue unabated. Private property rights protections are nowhere to be found. And the green dream of a National Heritage Area program has seen its most momentum in a decade.

It's been four years since Bush took office and property rights advocates are still waiting for that promised help. In fact, forget help. It would be nice if the White House would just stop working against us.

March 30 of this year provides a perfect snapshot of Bush's neglect and utter disregard for traditional property rights and those suffering under the tyranny of federal land-use policies. That day, Property Rights Foundation of America President Carol LaGrasse traveled from New York to Washington to testify against the creation of a National Heritage Area (NHA) program. LaGrasse explained to the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks that NHAs are "designed to gradually accomplish federal land use control." She noted that "The Heritage Area program also has the goal of transferring private land to government." Indeed, National Heritage Areas spell disaster for property owners.

That very same day, the Bush administration decided to openly promote a National Heritage Area program and pull the rug out from under LaGrasse and property rights advocates nationwide. The U.S. Department of Interior issued a press release stating "the Bush administration is proposing legislation…to establish a National Heritage Area program." To add insult to injury, National Park Service Deputy Director Randy Jones stated in the release: "These areas also must work closely with all partners in the region, including federal land-management agencies."

This is the "help" we were promised? More land-use restrictions and federal control over property? Property rights and limited government advocates have successfully fought the creation of a dreaded National Heritage Area program for over a decade! We successfully beat it back during eight painful years of Bill Clinton. Now the Bush administration wants to sell us out to the National Park Service and green special interests.

Of course, we are going to continue to fight the National Heritage Area monster in spite of the obstacle in the White House. As of this writing, the American Policy Center is scheduled to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Parks on behalf of property rights advocates in staunch opposition the NHA program. APC is leading the fight against National Heritage Areas -- testifying twice before Congress last year.

Unfortunately, the best "help" we can hope for from White House is just to be quiet and let us fight alone. But now that the Bush administration has taken up arms with the enemies of property rights, that isn't likely to happen.

Peyton Knight is the Director of Legislative Affairs for the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA. The Center's website is www.americanpolicy.org. © American Policy Center 2004

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