TAKE ACTION: Contact Representative Matt Gaetz and Representative Neal Dunn to ask them NOT to submit any bill regarding designating northwest Florida to be a National Heritage Area.
How does the National Heritage Area work against us?
It has come to our attention that a non-profit called the Northwest Florida Maritime Landscape Alliance for Preservation (MLAP) wishes to declare Northwest Florida a National Heritage Area (NHA). The proposed National Heritage Area would extend across the Northwest Florida Panhandle from the Perdido River on the west to Gadsden and Wakulla counties on the east - covering up to FOURTEEN counties. The sharp eye of our fellow patriot, Lane Watkins, is the only reason we know about this. Lane ran across this article from the University of South Florida. Click to view: New Non-Profit Aims To Preserve And Promote Northwest Florida.
National Heritage Areas are administered by the National Park Service (NPS) - no friend to private property. NPS provides guidance and MONEY. MLAP will receive an initial $700,000 (2016 amount) from the NPS to form a “managing entity” to decide which sites need protection and how to protect them. The managers, of course, will be ideologically like-minded with MLAP. “No land will be taken” is the mantra in both MLAP’s presentations and literature. While it is true that MLAP cannot use the federal money given by the NPS to purchase anyone’s land - an endless supply of federal grants will entice local officials to codify down-zoning in the name of protection. Not one square inch within the fourteen counties will be off-limits to MLAP’s “protection.” Historic District zoning will certainly be applied to some communities, bringing with it the necessity of approval from the NPS for renovations, additions or even paint colors. Private homes, farmland, fish camps, and houseboats on the rivers and bayous will be at risk. Traditional activities such as crabbing, oystering, seining, or hunting may be restricted or banned. Want to build a dock? You will need to wade through the permission of one more alphabet agency – the National Park Service. Please read: Not One Inch…The Battle Cry for Property Rights by Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center. More often than not, National Heritage Areas impede or ban the very activities for which they were named.
Which of these assets is not protected by state or federal law?
MLAP Project History
The project’s feasibility study began in 2016. In 2018 appearances began before organizations and local governments by Dr. Sorna Khakzad, a Post-Doctoral Research Associate and faculty member at the University of West Florida and the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Among other items in Dr. Khakzad’s resumé is her work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). MLAP’s appearances at regularly scheduled meetings of local organizations such as the Okaloosa Tourist Development Council are called public outreach to “stakeholders”. We contend that the property owners in the 14 county area which MLAP intends to “preserve” are the stakeholders. We are curious as to when we are going to be notified. The language from MLAP’s mission statement could not be clearer that control through a process of facilitated “visioning” meetings where any vote is a vote to advance a predetermined plan is the game for the public to participate.
NHAs are sold on the promise that economic prosperity will explode as people from around the world flock to our area. The traffic on Highway 98 is a testament that people from all over the world find northwest Florida without a wet blanket of “protection” over it. The Heritage Foundation confirms the economic fallacy in this still relevant article written in 2007. https://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/report/national-heritage-areas-costly-economic-development-schemes-threaten MLAP is in the final phase of the feasibility study to be submitted to NPS. NPS will approve, but the $700,000 (2016) will not be forthcoming until Congress acts. The annual funding will continue for 10 years, at which time MLAP is expected to be self-sufficient; but that has never happened with any other NHA, and why should MLAP be the exception? Our tax money will continue funding the restriction of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in perpetuity.
Help us stop this project so that northwest Florida is not turned into a museum.