There can be no further doubt about the significance of Camp Allegheny.
The most important Civil War and historic preservation groups have weighed in on the place for years, calling attention to its role and the need to honor its sacred ground where many men died in battle.
The site’s private landowners and the U.S. Forest Service deserve hearty appreciation for protecting the battlefield and winter encampment just as it is – their efforts over decades have made it one of the most well preserved Civil War sites in the nation.
Standing atop Allegheny Mountain, especially on a foggy morning, it’s incredibly easy to envision the marching troops, the bloody battle, and the conditions the men experienced there in the winter of 1861. The experience is enhanced by the miles-long vistas at the border with Pocahontas and Highland counties, giving one a sense of the expansive territory from the Virginia West Virginia border that was so boldly decided later as Civil War events unfolded.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the site, the perfect time to call attention to the one thing threatening its environment after a century and a half – a proposed wind energy project less than a mile away.
Highlanders for Responsible Development hopes to do exactly that; the group has nominated Camp Allegheny for the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places.
HRD spent weeks gathering a nomination packet of materials; the Trust’s criteria are strict, and its review process is arduous and serious. We won’t know until June 15, when the list is announced, whether Camp Allegheny makes the cut, but the site could certainly use the nationwide attention it would get if it makes the list.
Highland New Wind Development’s plans still appear stalled, for now, but the battle between the Harrisonburg limited liability company and those who oppose installing such a project on Allegheny Mountain is very much alive.
Erecting 400-foot turbines in a place where every landowner in the area has done nothing but protect the environment is a violation on more levels than we can count.
The Laurel Fork watershed, the endangered species that thrive there, the popular eco-tourism business next door – all are threatened by the project, along with the battlefield.
Making matters more challenging for Camp Allegheny, however, is its location – across the state line in Pocahontas County. Though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on federal guidelines for industrial wind projects, there are no existing regulations in place to address a situation where a project endangers something nearby, but across state lines.
If the site makes the National Trust list, nothing about Camp Allegheny will change in terms of its owners, including the forest service, and their rights. Nothing will be added to the land; nothing will alter its condition. But that’s the whole point – what the designation can do is call attention to the place, and support efforts to keep it intact the way it is, just as its owners have done for 150 years.
That kind of attention could carry some weight as HNWD pushes for its development next door. Most of those following this project know the company has consistently shooed off the opposition with insulting claims and ignored reasonable measures it could take to protect the area. It has done exactly that with regard to Camp Allegheny.
We support HRD’s nomination, and hope the Trust will agree this precious, historic place is, indeed, endangered.
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