The follow article was printed in the Murray Ledger and Times before any of the public heritage program meetings were held in the public libraries. It was also printed in the Cadiz Record, before the meeting in the Trigg County Public Library in Cadiz, January 13th, 2007; the Stewart Houston Times, before the meeting in the Stewart County Library in Dover, on January 20th, 2007; in the Tribune-Courier, before the meeting in the Marshall County Library in Benton, on January 27th, 2007; and in the Herald Ledger before the meeting in the Lyon County Library in Eddyville, Februray 3rd, 2007. My thanks goes out to each and every one of these papers for showing their support in informing the public of the heritage plan meetings.

 

 

Forest Service LBL Heritage Plan - Time to get Involved.

When I first heard about the Heritage Program in Land Between the Lakes, a thought or question entered my mind: Wouldn’t it be beyond ironic if, after TVA bought and impounded all the land in Land Between the Lakes, saying the reason that they required all the land, and the reason they had to push down and burn all the properties in LBL -- that there was to be no commercial development in LBL -- the Forest Service, thru their Heritage Program, used the historical heritage of the folks forced out of LBL to commercialize LBL thru tourism fees?

Of course we don’t know if this will happen, as the Heritage Program in the LBL is still in the early development phase, and we don’t know its outcome (or haven’t been told so far.)  But my fear isn’t without concern, nor is it without merit.

In 2003 the USDA Forest Service published a 99 page book entitled “Heritage Resource Management Plan - Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area”.  (A copy of this plan is available by request at the administration building in LBL, or by contacting the Forest Service thru mail or email.  It can also be read on the web at: www.imnothere.org/LBLHeritagePlan.pdf

“Plan Goals,” in the first chapter of this book says: “The Heritage Resources Management Plan (HRMP) provides an overview of LBL’s history, documents heritage resource management standards & guidelines, and outlines future management initiatives.”

Who could deny that honoring the historic heritage in the LBL isn’t a very noble idea? Who from or connected to families from between the rivers wouldn’t support it? Between the rivers folk had all their historical artifacts destroyed by TVA, and any plans to honor that missing heritage would finally be a step in the right direction; to honor the unique way of life, and history that was developed there.

The biggest part of the HRMP presents a background of pre-historic heritage, or that of the Native American Indians in the LBL area.  How the Forest Service is going to gather this pre-history is another question that comes to mind.  In the Appendix they mention the Cherokee, Chicksaw, and Shawnee Nations, as contacts.

But how to gather European historic heritage, that began with settlements in 1783, isn’t a question. They will gather it from those that lived in between the rivers, before the installation of the dams and after, and from their descendants.  They will get it from those had all their properties pushed down and burned, and their lands and way of life taken away. Their/our heritage is gone at present, existing only in their/our memories and stories.  Should we just give these memories away, to be turned into profit, by commercializing that which was promised wouldn’t be commercialized?

Also, in the first chapter of the HRMP it states: “Funding for LBL programs and activities, including resource management, is derived primarily from congressional appropriations. Accordingly, the extent to which these goals and related activities described in this document are implemented annually is dependent upon the availability of these funds.”

But what if the funds aren’t made available?  What about the possibility of plans developing, such as, “Starving the Beast,” where the government pulls funds to force other means of revenue? The purpose of the heritage plan is to attract tourists. What if there is pressure put on the Forest Service to use the heritage plan to charge fees for our heritage? A search on the web will reveal that the nationwide heritage plan has been used for this purpose. Why should we think that it won’t be used to do the same in LBL?    

In January of 2007 Jamie Bennett, the archeologist with the Forest Service in the LBL, will be holding meetings to begin development of the LBL Heritage Program.  A list of these meetings is included at the bottom of this article.

I can’t urge enough for folks whose heritage is connected to between the rivers to become involved.  There are plenty of reasons to get involved. We with family connections to the land seem to be fixated upon the past, for good reasons: our land and ways of life were taken from us.  But, for the sake of the descendants, both now and future, so that they can find a cultural connection to their heritage, it’s time we not only look to the past, but to the future as well.  It is time we protect our heritage so that future generations, with roots in LBL, can have an honorable heritage to be connected to.

So why get involved, or why be concerned? We should be concerned because we need to honor the sacrifice made by those that gave up their land and way of life for the LBL Demonstration.  Before TVA began the LBL demonstration, and during, they gave reasons to congress, and to those that lived there, for turning LBL into a National Recreation Area. These reasons explained why it was required that TVA had to take all the land in the LBL, not leave some people living there.  They also gave reasons for pushing down and burning all the towns, homes, farms, businesses, and properties.  Those reasons were that: The LBL would be a demonstration of how establishing a National Recreation Area – a “Play Ground of the Rugged,” as Joe Creason of the Courier-Journal called it -- would benefit the area by being a boon to the surrounding businesses; that there would be no commercial development in the LBL; that if visitors wanted or needed anything, they would have to go outside of the LBL to acquire them. 

But when has the government ever kept a promise?  Apparently, only when we hold them to it.  In January 1996, serious public concerns were raised about the management of LBL, when TVA explored five development concepts ranging from upgraded campgrounds to a major theme park. Public outcry, heated meetings, and 30 thousand signatures, put a stop to the five concepts, which was full blown commercialization of LBL.  In the end, TVA was removed as the managing agency of LBL, the LBL Protection act was passed, and the Forest Service was brought in to replace TVA management. 

That all seemed good to everyone, and has been over all.  But, it was TVA that made promises of no commercialization, and the Forest Service didn’t.  So those at the Forest Service say they only have to abide by the LBL Protection Act, and don’t have to honor any promises made by TVA. They act as if the promises were made by TVA only, and not by congress and the President, which isn’t true. Moreover, the LBL Protection Act basically gives them free hand to do most anything they want in LBL.  What has become known as “The Promise” wasn’t honored in the LBL Protection Act.

To make matters worse, the budget of the Forest Service has been cut; combined their budget has been cut close to 60 percent. Thanks to the Federal Fee Demonstration program, which was a test of the public to see if they’d resist paying fees to use national parks and public lands, the Forest Service is now under pressure to charge fees to support our national public lands. (TVA, by the way, was the first to volunteer to try out the Fee Demonstration Program in LBL, when it was introduced.) The Federal Fee Demonstration Program ended in 2004, and was replaced with R.A.T - “Recreation Access Tax.” Now the Forest Service has a legal right, and obligation under budget concerns, to charge fees in our national public lands wherever they can.

Is this true for the LBL Heritage Plan?  The LBL Heritage Plan is just part of a nationwide Heritage program, that’s meant to honor mostly Native American heritage.  But it’s being used to honor any heritage, and in this case, the LBL heritage.

To be honest, I like the Heritage Plan. Finally, after all our artifact historic heritage was pushed down and burned, we can have hope that our family’s heritage in LBL may be honored.  What’s not to like? 

What’s not to like is the possibility that because of budget concerns, and pressures to make our public lands as self sustainable as possible, the Forest Service may decide to charge fees for tours of our heritage. In other national public lands, where the Heritage Plan has been put into place, it has been used to generate fees. If they charged fees for the LBL Heritage Plan, it would be the ultimate insult to those that sacrificed their land and unique way of life, with promises that there would be no commercial development in LBL. In truth, it would be breaking “The Promise;” with the heritage of those they made The Promise too.  I can’t think of a greater insult.

Our folks that were forced out of the LBL were very trusting of their government.  They couldn’t believe that their government would do anything to harm them.  They were wrong.  Maybe we can trust them with this Heritage Plan, but maybe not.  We’ve been burned once, let’s not be burned again.

So, it’s time to become involved again.  We stopped the Five Concepts by becoming involved, and we may need to stop the profiting off of our heritage too. The coming meetings on the Heritage Plan are listed below. Let’s show up in force. If not, we endorse the Forest Service to do anything they wish; we endorse that our heritage, the sacrifice made by our between the rivers folk, and The Promise, be profaned. 

Also, Jamie Bennett of the Forest Service, who is in charge of implementing the Heritage Plan says: “If you are unable to attend any of the community sessions, I still want your input. Please contact me at 270-924-2015 or at jwbennett@fs.fed.us to arrange a more convenient time or place to meet.  Please also contact me for additional information or to answer questions or concerns.”

I believe it’s time to become involved in our heritage, and to protect it from being used to break The Promise made to our folks, that made a great sacrifice for the LBL National Recreation Area.

Forest Service meetings on the Heritage Plan are as follows:

Discussion Session 1:
Trigg County Public Library in Cadiz, KY
January 13, 2007
10:00 am - 12 noon

Discussion Session 2:
Stewart County Public Library in Dover, TN
January 20, 2007
10:00 am - 12 noon

Discussion Session 3:
Marshall County Public Library in Benton, KY
January 27, 2007
10:00 am - 12 noon

Discussion Session 4:
Lyon County Public Library in Eddyville, KY
February 3, 2007
10:00 am - 12 noon

If you are unable to make any of these meetings, and still wish to be involved, please contact Jamie Bennett at the Forest Service administration office.  Her contact information is listed above.

Harold Dixon

BTR Website = http://www.imnothere.org | Hertiage Plan/Program Website = http://www.imnothere.org/LBLHeritagePlan.htm