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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August 18, 2003

Dear Friend,

At our annual conference last fall, entitled "Celebrating Private Property Rights,"
Sean McKeon, the president of the Northeast Regional Forest Foundation, made an interesting statement, which I'd like to quote to you:

"I would like to compliment Carol and this organization for not running away from that term, 'private property rights.'

"I've been to a myriad of meetings of good guys and people who would be on our side who have over the years tried to steer us away from using 'private property,' to kind of camouflage our agenda and the message that we have for people and to characterize it as something other than what it is.

"It is about private property. It is about the ability to use your God-given talents the way you choose to use them, to experience the fruits of your labor, and to use the fruits of your labor the way you see fit."

For nearly a decade, PRFA has pursued a simple vision, defending private property rights. Together, we have worked to depict the underlying principle of respect for private property as a central tenet in maintaining our freedom.

Conversely, we have pointed to the affront to private property rights where it is the source of the real harm that people endure from government's excesses. By destroying communities and economies, wrongful environmental regulation and land acquisition are causing the depopulation of rural America. On the other end of the spectrum are urban infringements on private property rights ranging from rent control to zoning. The latter, of course, is now spreading like a plague over rural America.

PRFA is among those who led the nation in warning of the stages and tools that the extreme environmentalists have so expertly, yet somewhat subtly, designed, to eliminate rural property rights — the National Heritage Areas, the Biosphere Reserves, trails, scenic designations, special purpose not-profits such as land trusts, and conservation easements.

Our voice has certainly been heard. But even today it is a comparatively small voice, often only a counterpoint in the symphonic blast of the juggernaut of established regulations and government usurpation of private property and the onslaught of wealth from non-profit organizations and government, coupled with beneficent-sounding, yet malevolent, programs that are still being established.

Many of the programs that are just barely starting to hit home have been in the works for a decade or longer. This year, while Kelli and Joe Havranek were battling the portent of eminent domain to build the local Rondout Canalway Trail through two towns several miles from the Hudson River in upstate New York, they discovered (in a freedom of information request reply) that the trail planning began a decade ago. They also learned that the trail is to extend the entire 100-plus mile distance from the Rondout Creek to the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania border.

This year, Congress, accompanied coincidentally by stories about the importance of the New Jersey-New York highlands in The New York Times, is proposing the Highlands Stewardship Area Act to provide more federal funding for acquisition of a swath of land stretching through lower New York from the New Jersey highlands to Connecticut. But the plan to preserve this swath of New York has been in the works for over a decade, as PRFA diagrammed in Positions on Property in April 1995.

The pre-regulation, pre-acquisition programs set the stage for the regimentation of individuals and diminishment of private land ownership as precisely and completely as would the setting of a lavish banquet with countless seats and then sounding the trumpet. Just open the doors. Who can stop the gorging?

We must reach out more effectively. The work of PRFA to defend private property ownership needs much greater support. Your help has made a great difference. But we must convey our message to many more people and succeed in discrediting the lies of the extreme environmentalists and shameless advocates of nanny government, which have a hold on many leaders of both political parties at every level.

Before Sean McKeon gave his speech, he modestly stated his regret that he could not match the erudition of Tom Bethell's opening address on "Private Property — The Historical Route to Prosperity." But Sean caught the heart of our work by stating one truth about PRFA.

We will never compromise the principle that private property rights underlie our freedom.

Please help as generously as possible to support the Property Rights Foundation of America. Your contribution to PRFA goes much further than you might ordinarily expect, because a great deal of our work is 100 percent volunteered.

With best regards,


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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