Welcome! Today is a wonderful occasion. It is thrilling and a privilege to be gathered with all of you today. Thank you for coming to our Fourteenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights here at the Holiday Inn Resort at Lake George.
The conference is not only for education, but for inspiration and the beginnings of all sorts of planning, assistance to each other, coalition building, and effective action.
I hope that you find this pleasant hotel and the beautiful setting looking out over Lake George also a setting for directions and building confidence to pursue our mutual visionto advance private property rights.
This year's theme is easily our most difficult so far:
"Removal and Resistance: How Rural and Urban People
are Fighting Enviro-preservationists and Big Government to Keep
Their Homes, Businesses, Communities, and Rights to the Land."
For years I've looked at revelations of effects of various methods of modifying land ownership, from conservation easements to land use regulations to government land acquisition.
I looked at overall regional land use control devices.
Then, gradually I became convicted that something totally malevolent was incontrovertible.
Yes, I'd written about the Wildlands Program well before it caught on as a concern of property rights leaders.
But still I thought it was the name of one program, although exactly the same structure as the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program, and obviously from the same mold. And Peter and I studied and successfully publicized the intentions of the Biosphere Reserve designations.
And even though I wrote and illustrated the first piece in the country about the overlapping designations from National Heritage Areas to Coastal Zone initiatives to wetlands to Biosphere Reserves, and on and on, still it was not apparent to me that there was a clear, single agenda, and that each program was merely a tool.
However it is quite obvious now that there is indeed a clear agenda on the part of the coordinated environmental movement to get all the rural land in the country, and, most of all, to kick almost all of us off, and kick off all the rural industries based on resources, such as mining, logging, and ultimately farming.
Tourism, a tool that the preservationists use to define the permitted activities in rural areas, will ultimately go, alsoif they have their way. And, also, motor vehicles on government-owned land, whether on old town roads, snowmobile trails, or waterways. And hunting is a singular target, but hunters are wooed in certain respects, being promised more so-called access to hunting land, which is a way to entice them to support land acquisition. With hunters, it is divide and conquer, cut them off up North in New York, while inviting them into new lands further south. And, there is always the effort to introduce predators like wolves and grizzlies, to kill rural animal husbandry and hunting.
Then, there is the greed of city power brokers, who are infecting not only big cities but also governing bodies of small municipalities with their free-wheeling eminent domain to transfer private property from an established neighborhood of owners to bigger players who can make profits for themselves and the municipality. It is euphemistically called "urban redevelopment." But it is a money loser for the taxpayers. Urban eminent domain has gone crazy since the 2005 Kelo decision.
And, when it comes to being displaced, the suburban and small town homeowner is not immune. The power of building codes and zoning effectively push out those who cannot live up to quality standards for their buildings that have been set in the proverbial "ivory tower" without regard for the condition of the vast majority of established neighborhoods. Zoning pushes out small businesses, because grandfathering only goes so far. Building codes and harsh site regulations force out older construction and prevent modest owner-built dwellings. People's lives are harshly disrupted by the imposition of the modern rules that have nothing to do with health and safety. Together, property value appreciation, zoning, and building codes have the potential to gradually transform the population of an area.
These brief remarks are meant to set the stage for the conference speakers. The idea is that in a single day in the company of some of the best minds and most dedicated leaders, you will get an accurate, inclusive picture of the seriousness of the problems we face against a socialist onslaught, and also be led toward the openings where you can experience the gratification of making a difference in saving and restoring our right to own and use private property, while saving our communities and traditional culture.
Enjoy your day!