This project for the establishment of a National Heritage Area is currently on hold. Since we began trying to arouse interest in 2010 several things have changed:
- Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia (a powerful Senator and longest serving member of the Senate) who had taken an interest in the project died in June 2010;
- The Government Accounting Office began to question the economy of the Heritage Area development process as it saw some areas failing to become self sustaining;
- Most of the people who responded to the proposal expected some other organization to do the work;
- The economy continued it's downward spiral, and CVBs had little money to spend;
- Col. Washington's Frontier Forts Association and other associations created to celebrate the French and Indian War 250th anniversary ceased when the anniversary was over;
- Most Tourism entities in the area became involved in the Civil War anniversary.
- Finally, and most importantly, after contacting most all of the Visitor Centers/CVBs in the area and many Historical Societies, hardly anyone responded by forwarding to us the requested items:
1. Map of sites,
2. Story themes,
3. Bibliographic resources,
4. Additions/corrections for the draft Proposal posted on web site.
When one reads the National Park Service requirements for establishment of a Heritage Area, one should be struck by how strict the requirements that a proposal be community backed, that an administrative organization be founded by area partners and that there be a workable long term plan for management of the area. In light of the fact that the French and Indian War frontier was sparcely settled and the suggested area spans a vast distance, this may be too much to accomplish given the limited resources.
Conclusion - another option?
It is apparent that there is no concrete support for a National Heritage Area highlighting the French and Indian War on the Virginia Frontier and the significant role played by the Father of Our Country in that War. Therefore, no current work is being done on the Heritage Area proposal. The only real possibility that might benefit sites in the area is the self-publication and self-promotion of driving tour information and local area signage. Until we receive information as requested above on sites in the area, we assume that even that is too much to hope for.
The web site will remain available for an undetermined time to allow people to download information and discuss options at a local level. No organization currently is taking responsibility for promoting the concept. It is up to local interests to work toward a solution. We have a wonderful historic gem of an historical era that is largely forgotten. We have stories concerning the heroic settlers of the frontier, many of whom gave their lives to build a home for their families. We have one of the few interpretative opportunities to show America where the Commander of the Continental Army that won our Independence first learned the lessons of war and leadership. Let us not forget.