Sign ded­i­ca­tion com­mem­o­rates 60 years of ste­ward­ship, his­toric preser­va­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

Bring­ing to­gether key fed­eral, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials to cel­e­brate 60 years of ste­ward­ship, the Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion and the Na­tional Park Ser­vice hosted a sign ded­i­ca­tion com­mem­o­rat­ing its on­go­ing partnership dur­ing a rib­bon-cutting cer­e­mony on March 24 at Pis­cat­away Park in Ac­co­keek.

It all started in 1955 when Con­gress­woman Frances Bolton of Ohio pur­chased a 500-acre farm in Ac­co­keek — di­rectly across the Po­tomac from Mount Ver­non and next to the Moyaone Re­serve — to pre­vent its sale to a com­mer­cial de­vel­oper. Bolton un­der­stood the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing that iconic view and was soon sought out by lead­ers from the Ac­co­keek com­mu­nity who had been pre­serv­ing the ru­ral char­ac­ter of the area.

Bolton do­nated her farm to cre­ate the Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion (AF) which led to its found­ing in 1957. With a coali­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing the Alice Fer­gu­son Foun­da­tion, Moyaone As­so­ci­a­tion and Mount Ver­non Ladies As­so­ci­a­tion, Bolton launched an am­bi­tious pro­gram to pro­tect 6 miles of shore­line. This large-scale land­scape con­ser­va­tion ef­fort re­sulted in the cre­ation of Pis­cat­away Park, the first pub­lic-pri­vate ef­fort of its kind to pre­serve his­toric vis­tas. Congress au­tho­rized Pis­cat­away Park and Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy signed the bill in Oc­to­ber 1961, ac­cord­ing to the AF web­site.

Today, nearly 60 years later, AF re­mains com­mit­ted to its mis­sion in cul­ti­vat­ing pas­sion for the nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage of Pis­cat­away Park as well as sup­port­ing ste­ward­ship and sus­tain­abil­ity through col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­no­va­tion.

“The fact that this place has been pre­served from devel­op­ment owes much to the vision and com­mit­ment of Con­gress­woman Frances Bolton,” Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion Board Chair­woman Vir­ginia Busby said. “I ad­mire this or­ga­ni­za­tion for its lead­er­ship in in­no­va­tive and in­te­grated land con­ser­va­tion and his­toric preser­va­tion. And I ad­mire the foun­da­tion’s sin­cere com­mit­ment to ste­ward­ship of and their vary­ing en­gag­ing ed­u­ca­tion about this land, its nat­u­ral re­sources, its colo­nial and sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture and about the broad spec­trum of his­tory and cul­ture of this place.”

Busby said she was also im­pressed with AF be­ing a place of con­nec­tions and its re­la­tion­ship with the land’s his­toric con­tem­po­rary and de­scen­dant com­mu­ni­ties.

“I’m very proud to be more con­nected to this place and be a part of this or­ga­ni­za­tion than en­ables peo­ple to con­nect with the land and a place that in­spires visi­tors to be a part of creat­ing a sus­tain­able world,” she said.

AF Pres­i­dent and CEO Lisa Hayes said it is an honor to be fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Bolton in lead­ing an amaz­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion like AF, es­pe­cially dur­ing a piv­otal time in his­tory as the foun­da­tion cel­e­brates sev­eral mile­stones in­clud­ing its 60 years of ste­ward­ship in ad­di­tion to the Na­tional Park Ser­vice’s cen­ten­nial and the 50th an­niver­sary of the Na­tional His­toric Preser­va­tion Act.

“Today, we also honor those who have given their time, en­ergy and ad­vo­cacy in mak­ing sure this Pis­cat- away Park will for­ever be a site of con­ser­va­tion, recreation and ed­u­ca­tion,” said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (DMd, 5th). “I want to thank the Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion for its ex­tra­or­di­nary lead­er­ship and the hard work it un­der­takes on a con­stant ba­sis to pro­tect the land. It’s home to so much of Mary­land’s his­tory not only here, but across the river.”

Hoyer said the work be­ing done at Pis­cat­away Park in terms of con­nect­ing young peo­ple with na­ture and teach­ing them about the en­vi­ron­ment is an in­vest­ment and “a gen­er­a­tion bet­ter equipped” to meet the chal­lenges of the coun­try and those that the world will face in decades ahead.

“While we are here to cel­e­brate the past, it’s crit­i­cal that we look to the fu­ture. In­vest­ing in pub­lic lands is at risk in Amer­ica. And each of us ought to be en­er­gized by that fear and con­tinue to raise con­scious­ness,” he said.

Bob Vo­gel, di­rec­tor for the Na­tional Park Ser­vice Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion, said it’s im­por­tant to look back in the past as “we of­ten look to our his­tory for ex­am­ples of think­ing that was ahead of its time.”

For Vo­gel, Bolton was a key fig­ure in the preser- va­tion ef­fort re­sult­ing in the cre­ation of Pis­cat­away Park, a sim­ple ef­fort that turned out to be so much more than that in the end. It’s the first na­tional park of its kind set aside to pre­serve a view­shed and con­ceived as a pub­lic-pri­vate partnership. This was an early model that was em­u­lated in a num­ber of places across Amer­ica, he said.

“In 1955, she ini­ti­ated a se­ries of events that would even­tu­ally cre­ate the won­der­ful Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion,” said Vo­gel. “She’s a great woman in his­tory whom we should cel­e­brate this month and all year round.”

Pis­cat­away Conoy Tribal Chair­man Fran­cis Gray said he is amazed by the un­par­al­leled ac­tions of Bolton which were well ahead of her time.

“With Mrs. Bolton’s as­pi­ra­tions and de­sires to pro­tect the view and the land­scape from across the mother river, her ac­tions pro­duced a prod­uct,” Gray said. “This place of Pis­cat­away is very sa­cred to our peo­ple. I am hon­ored, glo­ri­fied and very [hum­bled] by the process that has gone through and all the hard work that has been done to en­sure the legacy of our an­ces­tors are still in­tact.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent and CEO Lisa Hayes, front left, is all smiles af­ter cutting the rib­bon for a sign com­mem­o­rat­ing the AF’s on­go­ing partnership with the Na­tional Park Ser­vice and its 60-year mile­stone of his­toric preser­va­tion and ste­ward­ship on March 24 at Pis­cat­away Park in Ac­co­keek. From left is Pis­cat­away In­dian Na­tion Chief Billy Red Wing Tayac, Pis­cat­away Conoy Tribal Chair­man Fran­cis Gray, AF Board Chair­woman Vir­ginia Busby, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and Na­tional Park Ser­vice Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Di­rec­tor Bob Vo­gel.

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