Schonert: I never approved anything!
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
NDPC Investigates by Brett Narloch
Issue: Property Rights

Bookmark and Share

On Monday, August 3rd, Burleigh County Commissioner Doug Schonert took exception to Northern Plains Heritage Foundation board member Tracy Potter’s testimony to a United States congressional committee in November 2007.

Potter described the benefits of designating a five-county area along the Missouri River in North Dakota as a National Heritage Area to Congress. A National Heritage Area (NHA) is designated by Congress and defined as a place where natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. They are typically managed by a designated non-profit, which writes a management plan for the area and administers the federal and local government funds that accompany the area. Currently, there are 49 total NHAs throughout the United States.

Potter told the US Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, “In public hearings before city and county commissions have unanimously provided their encouragement.”

The Burleigh County Commission only approved a feasibility study; they did not pass any type of resolution supporting the designation itself. Schonert was not pleased.

“You’ve [Potter] lost credibility,” Schonert told Potter. “I never approved anything. It’s hard to trust you.”

“We have made a publicity blunder. Your point is well-taken,” Potter admitted.

Though Schonert pressed the matter with Potter, the other Commissioners appeared content with Potter’s story.

The NDPC has previously reported that Potter misled Congress and the IRS about its activities. The substance of the matter is important. Strong public support is required to get the NHA designation. Potter’s testimony convinced the National Park Service that there was enough public support for the designation.

Click HERE to learn more about the Northern Plain National Heritage Area.