Clearly, Alternative I (no action) consigns many of these important sites to eventual oblivion--``a death of a thousand cuts''--an alternative that seems to be unacceptable to most individuals who commented on this report. The four remaining alternatives presented in this report suggest that a wide range of preservation and interpretation solutions may be possible at various locations in the Valley, while also allowing individual owners and local governments the option not to participate.
Despite the obstacles outlined in Alternatives IV and V, creation of a National Park unit at all or selected battlefields has significant supporters. Highland and Frederick counties, the City of Winchester, and several national and regional organizations have encouraged a Federal role in the Valley beyond technical assistance and funding. In some cases, acquisition of core battlefields at all or selected sites was identified as the preferred solution; in others, the suggested NPS role appears to be construction of a visitor's center at one or more locations in the Valley. Many of these organizations and local governments were not dissuaded by the potentially difficult management of a park composed of several discontiguous sites, or NPS analysis that the national significance of the Valley battlefields as a whole would require substantial land acquisition, rather than identification of ``representative'' sites or limited land parcels. Examples of NPS park units similar to these proposed models were identified, such as Richmond National Battlefield Park.
There appears to be significant interest in striving for new park models, or adoption of management techniques similar to the NPS participation in the Lakawanna Heritage Valley Plan in Pennsylvania. After review of this report, the National Park System Advisory Board supported Federal, regional, and local coordination, specifically recommending that the Service play a role in planning and interpretation within a Partnership Park or National Heritage Corridor framework. Overall, the need to develop innovative and flexible solutions to protection and management was stressed by many who commented on the study report. They stressed using the combined advantages of the private and public sectors, in particular, approaches (modeled after the Countryside Stewardship program in England) that involve property owners in a contractual relationship to be responsible for maintaining some historic resource amenity on their land. Such approaches could be tested as an economical alternative to a local, State, or Federal park unit.
In the end, new solutions must respect the integrity of the National Park System by only creating units that are of the highest resource quality, rather than fragments or resources that lack sufficient integrity, national significance, and interpretive potential. The National Park Service, however, can be an effective partner with the State, local, and private sectors in collaborating on practical solutions to protecting and presenting to the American people the crucial elements of their history that occurred at fifteen battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
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Creation Date: 3/23/95