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You Asked For It!

Documentation of the Concept Zero Position
on Land Between the Lakes

The National Park Service Plan
The Tennessee Valley Authority Plan
Clarifications and Explanations by TVA
The Legal Component of the Mission


Recently a barrage of statements have appeared--most with ambiguous origins-- accusing us of holding positions we do not hold and of fabricating the claims we make regarding the promise and the mission of the LBL. With this in mind we are rummaging through our numerous piles of documents to provide the public with the facts (reporters, please take note). We will list our various claims and provide the documentation for them. Please, if you do not hear Concept Zero making the claim, or taking the position, check with us to make sure it is REALLY ours. There is an attempt afoot to discredit us with the public. (We are not the front for a militia group, nor have we been taken over by a radical animal rights organization. And rumors of our having been abducted by aliens are "greatly exaggerated.")

We will begin with a chronological summary of the LBL context. If you have a question about any of this, and do not find the documentation here, please contact the Concept Zero Task Force (clicking on the name will do just that) and we will get that documentation on-line, or directly to you, ASAP. As a result, EXPECT THIS PAGE TO KEEP GROWING.

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Let's begin with two closely related claims that basically sum up the Concept Zero position in the proverbial nutshell:

CLAIM 1: The LBL Mission excludes commercial activity WITHIN the LBL.
CLAIM 2: TVA (and by implication, the federal government) made a promise to the former residents and the surrounding business owners that there would never be any commercial activity or permanent residences WITHIN the LBL.

DOCUMENTATION: Some historical context is needed here. Within one generation the federal government had used its right of eminent domain to remove property from private citizens between the rivers three times PRIOR to the idea of a "Land Between the Lakes" being introduced. The large wildlife refuge had been formed, Kentucky Dam and Lake had been constructed, and Barkley Dam and Lake were nearing completion and the impacted properties had been "acquired." Needless to say, the novelty of eminent domain was wearing off with the locals.

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The National Park Service Plan

The National Park Service had submitted a plan for managing the lands between the two reservoirs in conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Department, which already managed the wildlife refuge. As you look at the comments from this Park Service plan, keep in mind what the final outcome would have looked like and contrast this with the TVA plan.

The Park Service plan would have allowed many of the residents and even some of the private businesses, to remain. Notice that there would have been services for the visitors inside the recreation area, and these would have been owned and operated by the private sector. Such services would have been tightly limited, however. Control over such development would have been accomplished by "zoning." This (rejected) plan would have allowed rental lodging among the services. Such services were already in place, established by the inhabitants of the area.

Perhaps most revealing of the difference in tone of the two proposals is that the Park Service would have retained the name "Between the Rivers" in an effort to preserve, and build on, the cultural integrity of the area, as opposed to trying to remove it.

The following quotes come from Field Investigtion Report for the Proposed Between-the-Rivers National Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee
by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Region One.
It was released in April of 1961 from the Richmond, Virginia office.

"The Kentucky woodlands National Wildlife Refuge serves as a habitat for native birds and other animals whose presence lend considerable interest. The refuge is included within the boundary of the proposed national recreation area but would continue to be operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service." p. 1

"If action is not taken to preserve and protect the area, it is only a matter of time until existing natural and recreation values will suffer serious deteriation through uncontrolled commercialization and misuse. It is therefore recommended that favorable consideration be given to the acquisition, development, and administration of the Between-the-Rivers area as a national recreation area." p. 3

"Certain portions of the entire peninsula area are not included within the suggested boundaries. These exceptions are as follows:
Fort Donelson National Military Park.
Fort Donelson National Cemetery.
The town of Golden Pond and adjacent corridor along U.S. Highway 68.
The town of Dover and the Pumpkin Ridge section.
The section immediately south of the canal which contains a rapidly developing residential section.
At the proposed main south park entrance, a protective strip south of U.S. Highway 79 has been included. However, most of the land along the south side of this highway has been left for private development of overnight facilities and commercial services. It is anticipated that with adequate local zoning along this highway and in relation to the exceptions listed, no serious adverse impact will be reflected upon envisaged park values." p. 4-5

"The study area possesses certain scientific, historic, and scenic resources which add substantial potentialities from the park and recreation standpoint." p. 9

"There is a great need to stop further uncoordinated private development in the area. Ample opportunity for individual and private enterprises presently are and later will be afforded on what may be called the "outer" shores of Lakes Barkley and Kentucky. Already several such enterprises have become established on the "inner" shores of the "Between-the-Rivers Area." p. 14

"The land and adjacent water included in the study area is an advantageous unit both in size and shape. It embraces ample territory required for preservation, administration, and interpretation of its inherent park and recreation values." p. 14

"The area would be so developed and managed as to protect the health and safety and, through interpretation, to acquaint visitors with the various inspirational and cultural values represented. To preserve and promote the natural character and scenic aspects, development sites would be carefully selected and designed, omitting provision for unessential facilities." p. 18

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The Tennessee Valley Authority Plan

TVA's management plan was the outcome of a previous assignment to find some way to stimulate the economy of the surrounding region. This was to compensate for having so much property removed from the local tax base (including the formation of Fort Campbell). This was a major part of the reason for TVA being formed in the first place!
Here is the tricky part: TVA's power of eminent domain extends beyond taking land which will be directly impacted by dams and lakes. This was done by Section 22 of the 1933 TVA Act, which established the agency. That clause allows TVA to take property for the purpose of "testing, research and demonstration." This is the reason all projects at LBL are expressed in terms of a "demonstration."

Because Barkley Dam was nearing completion and commercial development of the area was thought to be inevitable unless some control mechanism was in place the then Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall sent a recommendation to President Kennedy to go with the TVA plan. The Park Service was bogged down with potential programs under Kennedy's new initiative, and TVA had the power of eminent domain built in. The long process of getting Congress to pass legislation to form the LBL could be bypassed.

Even with this power built in, TVA still had to get Congressional approval. Congress was reluctant to give this approval--even if no legislation would be required--for the opposition from the land owners was clear. The TVA Chairman, Aubrey Wagner, went before Congress to explain why the demonstration they had in mind would justify the removal of ALL "inholdings."

The following quotation is from Aubrey Wagner's testimony before the second session of the Eighty-eighth Congress in 1964. It is his explanation of why ALL the residents must be forced out under the TVA plan for development of the recreation facility (unlike the Park Service plan). This difference from the Park Service plan was not only the most obvious "from the ground," as they say, but the intended outcome which justified the removal is claimed to be superior to the more conventional Park Service plan. It is this difference, and its effects on the surrounding region, which forms the "demonstration" that would justify their use of eminent domain.
The demonstration was to be in "resource development." Specifically, the LBL was to be a demonstration of how to maximize the benefits of having public land in your region.

"Mr. Chairman, we are persuaded, and specialists in this field with whom we have talked agree with us, that the entire area must ultimately be included in order to preserve the kind of atmosphere that would come with confining it within natural boundaries. The water makes the natural boundary, and we believe when people cross the bridges into the area they ought to be immediately conscious of the fact that this is a new kind of an area.
"That kind of a development is not consistent with continued inholdings and developments that become highly commercialized, and so on. There is room for the commercial developments on the opposite shores of Barkley and Kentucky Reservoirs, and we expect a multimillion-dollar investment to result there."

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TVA's Clarifications and Explanations

It has, incredibly, been claimed that the numerous such statements by Wagner, given before Congress, should not be taken seriously. He was, after all just trying to calm nervous congressmen and legitimate the use of eminent domain, which would be necessary for forming the Land Between the Lakes. As such, his statements do not necessarily imply much about the original intentions for the actual management plans for the LBL.

The fact that TVA hired and trained representatives to go door to door explaining the purpose of the LBL and making the promise of no commercialization is a little harder to explain. The following is a copy of an affidavit by one of the people hired in that capacity.

Equally hard to explain away are the numerous statements made by TVA officials at the time--both in the press and to public meetings. The following quotations are taken from Betty Joe Wallace's carefully documented book, Between the Rivers: History of the Land Between the Lakes (1992). She draws heavily from press releases and official TVA documents.
Notice that the primary reason for going with TVA, rather than waiting for the legislative process required by the Park Service, was to prevent commercial development from being established between the lakes.

"President Kennedy had made it clear that he was not concerned with creating resort areas or playgrounds, but establishing several protected areas." p. 209

"True to predictions, the necessary legislation did not get through Congress during its regular session, but, on January 3, 1963, Representative Bass [TN] announced TVA would take over development of the park. The Park Service would step aside, allowing TVA to assume the responsibility because TVA did not have to wait for Congress to pass legislation." p. 211

On June 14, 1963, President Kennedy informed several people, including Representative Stubblefield and Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, that TVA had been directed to take control of the Land Between the Lakes project. Kennedy outlined the general policy TVA would follow: it would develop a national recreation area as a demonstration in resource development. It was an extension of area preservation, one result of which would be economic development of a region." p. 213

"The people had been waiting for two years when, on July 13, 1963, TVA announced that even though detailed plans for the development of the project [LBL] had not been completed, the agency had tentatively agreed that they would not permit the operation of any type of lodging, restaurant, or resort facilities within the boundaries of the area." p. 214

"Recreation, according to TVA's new definition, would be only those activities that could be pursued by tourists who wanted to visit a protected area. If people wanted lodging, food, drink, or supplies, they would have to leave the facility to buy what they wanted. They could then return to the camping areas, but the managed environment would be protected." p. 214

Perhaps most convincing of the original mission of the LBL are the proud remembrances of TVA Director Frank Smith, made in his 1971 book (Land Between the Lakes). There was no controversy raging at that time. There can be no claim that he was merely trying to placate or justify. It is clearly the restatement of what those who gave form to the LBL had in mind.
The following quotations are taken from Frank Smith's book.

"But the most persuasive reason for the total ownership [by TVA] decision lay in the basic concept of Land Between the Lakes development. If those seeking recreation wished to find a place where all signs of the city were absent, then commercial and private establishments--even homes and farms-- must also be absent. If new motels and services were to be barred, the older ones must also fall within this bar." p. 92

"In the case of cemeteries, TVA determined at an early date that these, with their more than 9,000 graves, could remain in place without interfering with the essential activities of Land Between the Lakes. It was thought that these cemeteries in future years would become of growing interest to millions of visitors. ... Accordingly, the terms of acquisition provided that the cemeteries in Land Between the Lakes will remain accessible for visiting, decoration, and normal maintenance. ... If conflicting uses occur in the vicinity of the cemeteries, TVA will accept responsibility for protective measures such as fencing." p. 102

"Land Between the Lakes will not be a successful demonstrations if it becomes a static institution, with repetitive conventional campgrounds and other facilities and services which offer no basic difference, improvement, or innovation from those which were built yesterday or are being built elsewhere today." p. 124

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The Legal Component of the Mission

All this is well and good, it has been claimed, but what those folks had in mind in the early 1960's is irrelevant for what is done in the LBL now.
But by the late '60's and into the early '70's, the very last of the residents were forced out by eminent domain. Finally overcome by the combination of federal marshalls and bulldozers that is burned into the soul of every former resident, the over thirty families that held out to the bitter end filed a class action suit challenging TVA's right to take their ancestral homes for the purpose of recreation. The suit was not about the low price that was paid, but challenged directly the "right to take."

The final defeat for these families came in 1972 when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that TVA did have the right to take to the extent that the Land Between the Lakes was not just a recreation area, but a demonstration in resource development--as allowed by section 22 of the TVA Act of 1933.
Apart from the exclusion of commercial development and permanent residences, TVA had no right to the many farms, homes, businesses and communities.

The following quotations are from the ruling of Judge Harry Phillips in that case.

"These consolidated appeals present the quesiton of the right of the Tennessee Valley Authority to acquire land by eminent domain for the Land Between the Lakes Project in Kentucky and Tennessee. The amount of compensation for the taking of the properties was stipulated. The only question in the District Court and on this appeal is the right of the TVA to take."

"The Land Between the Lakes Project is a "demonstration in resources development" involving 170,000 acres between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes in Western Kentucky and Northwestern Tennessee."
[Judge Phillips then included the full text of the "presidential press release of June 14, 1963, announcing the project..." as proof of the "demonstration" status of the project. The next two quotations are from that text, as included in Judge Phillips' ruling.]

"Development of the project will demonstrate how an area with limited timber, agricultural, and industrial resources can be converted into a recreation asset that will stimulate economic growth of the region. It will also help establish and define guidelines for the acquisition, development, and operation of other outdoor recreation areas."

"TVA expects to start on the project at an early date. The agency will administer the area for the period required to complete the demonstration, estimated at about 10 years. At the end of that period, arrangements for permanent administration of the area for outdoor recreation will be determined."

"The landowners assert that the TVA is condemning their property for the purpose of reselling it [or] for commercial purposes. This is contradicted by the testimony of Chairman Wagner of the TVA Board at the hearings on H.R. 11579 before the Committee on Appropriations, 88th Cong. 2d Sess."

With this ruling the nearly 1000 families lost their last hold on lands they had occupied, in very many cases, since receiving them as payment for service in the revolutinary war. Needless to say, these people have not forgotten the "no commercialization" claim.
Apparently, the same cannot be said for the current management at LBL.

There is more documentation of the LBL context to come. We have statements from the congressional record regarding the treatment of the residents as they were removed from their homeland. It is apparent TVA never anticipated such resistence; and they have still not understood these peoples' continued love and allegence to that land.
We also have documentation of the LBL's deliberate and calculated abandonment of the mission and promises--along with the repeated disregard of congressional demands, and public outcries.
If there is any documentation you think should be further explained, or any aspect of Concept Zero's position on this important issue, please do not hesitate to
contact us by clicking here. We will gladly respond. Our goal is to get the facts before the public.

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