Pieces removed from Frankenstein park

The Frankentein-shaped hallucination that passes for South Mountain state battlefield park - a park no one can visit because it is patched together from easements and the odd, isolated fee simple holding - is shifting shape a little, according to a newsletter issued by the Central Maryland Heritage League.

The monster has a notional existence because locals drank the potion offered by some mad scientists who run a famous national preservation trust; they promise eternal life to land placed under easement.

You can reduce the cost of an easement - which already costs less than land - by applying for state highway funds (believe it or not) and/or teaming up with the local birdwatchers or farm conservationists to split the bill ... not the sort of partners you want to have, truth be told, but available and willing.

So, you swing the shiny watch and mutter, "stretch battlefield land budgets, buy several easements instead," and they drink the potion.

I think this is what's happening at the Central Maryland Heritage League:

We are negotiating with State and Federal agencies to see if it is feasible to sell parcels of land on or near South Mountain State Battlefield. Both are protected and their sale would again help us to acquire and protect more land.

This year we have seen battlefield land being "preserved" through sale to developers. We have seen developers called preservationists in the press. Now we have a preservation society selling battlefield land it owns in order to "acquire and protect more land". Will it sell to developers if they are called "preservationists"?

Strike "acquire" from their comments. They want to swap real ownership to buy some hallucinogenic easements. They drank the potion, I think.

However, Tim Reese wonders if the League may be getting off the mountain entirely. Certainly, it may be possible that this sale fixes a financial problem, and that "acquire and protect more land" is a fig leaf.

I wonder, also, if they have put easements on the property they own and want to sell. Since - hypnotized - they may believe easement equals protection, there may be no reason - in their befuddlement - why they should continue to own "protected land" and pay taxes on it. Yes, it is land no one can visit. Yes, it is land that may come under generations of "no trespassing signs" once relinquished.

But by Jove, it is "protected"!

If you think that way, if you believe the nonsense that swirls around Civil War preservation societies today, a perfectly reasonable game plan would be to buy land, put an easement on it, sell the land with the easement in place, buy another piece of land and continue indefinitely. Maybe the League is doing this.It takes a PhD in Kremlinology to understand what our battlefield protectors are saying and doing.

Preserving is developing, buying is paying owners not to sell, and saving something means getting rid of it.

Enjoy your "no trespassing" virtual battlefield, friends. And give generously to save our hallowed ground.