P.O. Box 75, Stony Creek, New York 12878 - 518/696-5748
Founded 1994

The right to own private property is a fundamental American freedom that
guarantees personal liberty and promotes economic prosperity.


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December 13, 2001

Dear Friend,

How fragile our freedoms are!

These many years, you and I have realized this and worked together to preserve our precious God-given rights against a subtle, but harsh, internal onslaught. Now our nation seems to have awakened to the fact that our heritage of individual freedom does not rest on an assemblage of cultures haphazardly thrown together. No, it is uniquely the heritage of Western civilization, crystallized in our Judaic-Christian traditions on our country's founding documents.

But the insidious internal assaults on freedom continue.

Alice in Wonderland rules. Last month I observed a meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency, a governor-appointed regional zoning agency with jurisdiction over six million acres of evenly divided government and privately owned land in Northern New York. In their insulated world, an executive committee debated the details of an enforcement settlement. A property owner had built a dock larger than the allotted size. The agency's solution: Cut the dock in three parts, remove the middle strip and plant lilac bushes between the two narrow remaining docks. Neither the officials nor the perpetrators of the offending dock flinched.

This summer, that same agency had prohibited an elderly man suffering from a serious heart condition from building a carport that would have allowed him to get his automobile out during the Adirondack winters without having to shovel his way through the snow. The rationale for this prohibition: They decided that a carport is not an "extension" to a house, although adding more rooms to the house would be perfectly legal under the rules, which allow "extensions."

A month ago the full Adirondack Park Commission spent over an hour debating the locations for public hearings on its latest new rules, but for what reason? The last time they issued important new rules, several exceeding their statutory powers, they made absolutely no revisions as a result of the extensive public statements at the hearings, except that they changed a few initial letters of words to upper case from lower case and the like.

Using government power for private purposes, interest groups precipitate harsh zoning. In Warwick, New York, new suburbanites are annoyed at the supposed "greed" of farmers who sell their land for development of the very same type from which the annoyed suburbanites enjoy the picturesque view of farm pastures, century-old country houses, and barns. The "solution": zone the farms as open space.

Prejudiced vendettas against freedom-loving people. I have told these stories before: A couple with old German ways, Marie and Joe Hill in Massachusetts lost their farm to litigation spawned by a preservation group. Marinus Van Leuzen, an elderly Dutch veteran in Texas, lost his home to a prosecution for a wetland imagined by the Corps of Engineers. Ground down mercilessly in their old age, both Joe and Van are gone. John Pozsgai, a former Hungarian freedom fighter who resides in Pennsylvania, is blessed with a supportive family. Perhaps this helped him endure a two-year federal prison sentence for a trumped-up wetland infraction. But his daughter Victoria telephoned me last week seeking legal help because the Corps of Engineers is back with still more threats, even after last year's Congressional hearing exposed the extreme overzealousness of the prosecution of Mr. Pozsgai by the EPA and Corps.

Communities wiped out by environmental causes. The latest notorious instance is in the Klamath Basin in northern Oregon, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the "endangerment" of suckerfish to justify shutting off irrigation water to agriculture. Ironically, farmers were enticed into the area by the Bureau of Reclamation almost a century ago with permanent water rights.

These examples would not be so stunning if they were not so typical… Stories of bureaucratic juggernauts that I would hear as a young engineer from Polish and Czechoslovakian émigrés during the 1960's, are now the norm in the U.S.

Some cracks in the armor appeared with the Bush Administration. But until major policy changes are enacted at the top, our recourses are public exposure, organizing and litigation.

PRFA keeps abreast of and exposes developments in policy that will have far-reaching consequences. For example:

The U.S. Forest Service just signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for the land trust to co-manage the nation's National Forests to "restore and maintain healthy forest and grassland-based ecosystems," among other goals. The first work item in the agreement is: "The Nature Conservancy and the Forest Service agree to cooperate on…Inventory, assessments, surveys, and data management for biological diversity, wildlife, fish and plant resource information." The agreement has wide scope, ranging from land acquisition to "partnership" with "foreign, state and tribal governments, private land owners, communities, and other non-governmental organizations."

You can be sure that there was no competitive bidding for these services, that all of the future moneymaking work that TNC will perform under the MOU will also be free from open, competitive bidding, and that financial audits will be minimal. TNC's records, even for work paid for by the Forest Service, will be exempt from Freedom of Information law.

It is unlikely that private property rights or wise use advocates were consulted when this far-reaching MOU was negotiated.

If the corporatism of environmental government and its alter ego NGO's continues, you can be assured that private property ownership and private property rights will be systematically diminished. The government agencies and NGO's use their tools such as National Heritage Areas, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, or any of the other designations to prepare the way for government land acquisition and more regulation of private land.

At the grassroots level, this high level federal and state corruption comes down to lilac bushes separating pieces of a dock,…government without consent of the governed, private interests bringing government power down on landowners, tireless vendettas against the vulnerable, and communities squeezed out of existence.

The Property Rights Foundation of America exposes these assaults on freedom at all levels. The attached article illustrates how diminishment in the clarity of private land ownership comes home to roost, to the grief of the individual landowner.

PRFA needs your help again to produce publicity for these outrageous internal assaults on freedom and to influence policy. Please share generously with us to fight for private property ownership and private property rights. Joined with volunteered work by citizens throughout the country, one hundred percent of your donation goes to work for our mutual goals.

With appreciation for all of your work for freedom, and my very best wishes,


Carol W. LaGrasse

A copy of the latest annual financial report of the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. may be obtained from the organization or from the Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10271.

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