The news today puts it all into perspective. I understand what this is about. Kick me, I'm dense. A deal was made.
You'll recall from CWPT's Mullins Farm/Chancellorsville fiasco, that events played out like this:
At Chancellorsville, the seller, John Mullins, was faced with Civil War Preservation Trust trying to scoop up his property for farmland prices in a public campaign denouncing his sellers' offers; he was also publicly portrayed as venal. Mullins' response was to break off dealings with CWPT. He would not sell to preservationists, which is how we arrived at the convoluted deal in which Mullins sold to Tricord, then Tricord tries to sell some [battlefield] pieces to CWPT.After being frozen out of the land sale, CWPT turned to the local government for help in forcing Mullins to sell to them at their desired price. The deal with Tricord was a compromise, patched together with local government help: the county promised zoning support and then delivered it.
Political deliveries carry price tags, of course.
After the Tricord deal was announced and the rezoning effected, CWPT's friends in local government toured Virginia Civil War attractions outside the county. Their heritage tourism religion was deepened and enriched.
From today's news, I would conclude that a deal was struck, CWPT leveraging its considerable PR resources to boost Spotsylvania tourism programmatically. "Our whole county was a battlefield!"
The first part of the program was "endangered battlefield" status for all of Spotsylvania. ("Come see it before it's gone!") The second delivery is now made, a major spread in National Geographic:
Magazine adds perspective to debate over key Civil War sites in Spotsylvania. National Geographic magazine has put Spotsylvania County on the map...
Jim Campi, a CWPT spokesman, said the story marks the beginning of a joint effort by the trust, National Geographic and the National Park Service to create online resources and maps for visitors to Civil War sites. "We see this generating tourism while bringing international attention to the plight of Spotsylvania's battlefields, and how [preservation] decisions are being made locally."And that seems to be the deal.
"It's a great honor being recognized by [National Geographic], said Spotsylvania Supervisor Hap Connors. "Again, it's a two-edged sword that highlights the challenges and the opportunities" facing local officials.The "sword" is wielded in every election; the sword cuts deals off at the knees. And when sentiment swings against this current majority of county incumbents, Civil War preservation will be discredited in Spotsylvania County.
Is it reasonable to ask for non-partisan preservation organizations? For honest appraisal of danger to battlefields? CWPT's members have an opportunity to decide this every time they renew their membership.
P.S. CWPT has convinced Spotsylvania County to drink the easement Kool-Aid. "The county recently enacted a purchase-of-development-rights program and is looking for ways to fund it." Paying your friends (or friends of your party) hundreds of thousands of dollars not to build a mall on their three acres is a truly excellent bit of patronage, but it is not the best long-term conservation policy. See here and here.