Meeting Notes

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
Federal Advisory Commission Meeting Minutes
March 16, 2017
Strasburg Town Hall
Strasburg, Virginia

Commission members in attendance:
Jennifer Flynn, Acting Designated Federal Official (DFO)
John Adamson, chair, Belle Grove, Inc.
Karen Beck-Herzog, Site Manager, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP
Carl Bernhards, Middletown Town Council
Dave Blount, Private Landowner
Paul Coussan, Civil War Trust (by phone)
Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF)
Lee Meyer, Warren County
Rob Nieweg, National Trust
Rick Redmond, Strasburg Town Council

Commission members absent:
Jeanne Frink, Commonwealth of Virginia
Eric Lawrence, Frederick County
Nick Picerno, Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF);

Others in attendance:
Bob Grogg, NPS Volunteer
ered Hoover, Shenandoah County
Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc
Shannon Moeck, National Park Service
Barbara Plitt, Strasburg Town Council
Mike Ruddy, Frederick County
Dave Stegmaier, District Office, U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock
Mary Yonce, U.S. Forest Service

Meeting Notes
John Adamson, chair, called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m., and asked that each person identify him or herself. The notes from the previous meeting were accepted and approved.
Jennifer Flynn reported that Mary Yonce, U.S. Forest Service, will be nominated for the commission. The Commonwealth of Virginia has not responded about the appointment of its commissioner. A total of 8 representatives’ terms will expire in July 2017. Lee Meyer and David Blount finishing their first term and may be reappointed. Six other members 2 are coming to the end of their second terms and will need to be replaced. The bylaws allow for members to serve until a replacement is confirmed.

Flynn also asked members to review the bylaws, which were given to everyone, to see if they reflect the current needs and operations of the board.

Karen Beck-Herzog reported that the work on the Claytor property is nearly complete. The work to remove the modern garage pad at Bowman-Hite will be done the week of March 20th. Rehab work on the historic portions of the building lies in the future. Beginning March 18, 2017, the visitor contact station will be open seven days a week. April 1, 2017, is “Park Day” and Jeff Driscoll, seasonal ranger, will make a presentation and volunteers will extend the wood rail fencing near the Vermont Monument. The park has now brought education programming into local schools. Rangers spent March 3 with fourth grade classes at Virginia Avenue/Charlotte DeHart Elementary School conducting the first Ranger-in-Classroom programs. The fifth grade science class from Highland School in Warrenton is incorporating the design and construction of a new pollinator garden at Park Headquarters into their curriculum. The park’s volunteer master gardeners will be helping out. Eric Campbell and Karen Beck-Herzog will be participating in Career Day at the Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester.

The National Park Service Mid-Atlantic Exotic Plant Management Team will be assessing the properties of the NPS and participating partners to discover the types and extent of infestation of invasive plants. The goal is to manage invasive plants and reintroduce native species. Eradication of invasive plants may be impossible; there are simply too many. For example, Shenandoah National Park has counted 352 invasive species. So assessing carefully and accurately is one goal, and the other aim is replanting with native species. The team doing the work operates in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia; they are mostly seasonal. Private landowners will be told about the program and updated on developments.

The Northeast Regional Office has almost completed the review of the park foundation document. The aim is to make it a thorough and complete document.

Work on park trails continues. The Morning Attack trail will return to its original layout now that the deconstruction work is complete. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is beginning work on the footbridges for the 19th Corps Entrenchment Trail extension with the hope that it is completed by June 2017. Archeological work is scheduled for the Thoburn trail, followed by review by the State Historic Preservation Office. Funds are available for construction of the trail there with a planned fall completion date.

Kristen Laise, Belle Grove director, and Shannon Moeck, NPS park ranger, spoke extensively about their efforts to uncover the stories of Belle Grove’s enslaved population. They have worked with the Gilder Lehman Institute, the Josephine School Community Museum, Coming to the Table, and Zachary Hottle, archivist at Shenandoah County Library. Finding the stories and doing the research requires using all possible means: the archival record, archeology, building on the research of others, following 3 every lead no matter how apparently tenuous, and challenging long-held assumptions. Locally little is available until the 1870s, and it seems that many freed persons left the area. Some oral traditions indicate that Pittsburgh may have been a destination. Approaching present-day persons who may be descendants of enslaved African Americans requires tact and respect. Working with people who are doing similar research throughout the area and the state leads to collaboration and building on the work of others. The project is ongoing and will, no doubt result in some unlikely discoveries. More than 100 people attended a program on February 14, 2017, introduced by Kristin Laise, and given by Shannon Moeck on the life of Judah, Belle Grove’s cook for Warren County NAACP and Black History Month.

New Business
Carmeuse has two very large piles of stone and by-product that are visible from many places in the park. One is largely waste material. It will be leveled and seeded. The other is product, and is awaiting sale. No dates have been given for either the work on the tailing pile or the sale. As mining moves north the plant’s equipment will not move. Some obsolete buildings may be removed. The current level of blasting is within allowable limits. The management of Carmeuse is open but cautious. All discussions are cordial.

The next commission meeting is June 17, 2017, in Middletown, VA.
John Adamson adjourned the meeting at 10:44 a.m.

Last updated: January 10, 2018

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 700
Middletown, VA 22645

Phone:

(540) 869-3051

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