Arlington House Woods: Can We Reach a Compromise?

Posted on: March 7th, 2013 by Rob Nieweg 2 Comments


Arlington House also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Section 32 of the cemetery is in the foreground. Credit: Protoant via Wikimedia Commons
Arlington House, also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial, in Arlington National Cemetery. Section 32 of the cemetery is in the foreground.

Sometimes, good ideas threaten historic places -- and that's when preservationists and their allies look for better ideas.

A timely example: The Army Corps of Engineers is expanding Arlington National Cemetery to meet the growing demand for burial sites. For example, the 42-acre Navy Annex site adjacent to the cemetery is being cleared right now to provide many thousands of new burial sites.

No one objects to the idea of providing an honored resting place for our nation’s military veterans. To make room for still more burials, however, the Army Corps plans in 2013 to fell 1,700 trees and cut-and-fill a 27-acre stream valley in Arlington House Woods, the cherished forest surrounding the 1802 Arlington House.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Rob Nieweg

Rob Nieweg

Rob Nieweg is a Field Director & Attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He leads the National Trust’s Washington Field Office, which works to save historic resources in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. He has worked as a preservation advocate since 1989.

Environmental Threats Emerge at the "Walden Pond of the West"

Posted on: February 18th, 2013 by Guest Writer


The full version of this story originally appeared in E&E on Feb. 14, 2013. [As N.D. drilling boom spreads, so do worries about Roosevelt's 'cradle of conservation' -- by Scott Streater, E&E reporter.] Copyright 2013, Environment and Energy Publishing LLC. Excerpted with permission.

Photo by David Nix/

The rolling hills, crested buttes and cottonwood trees surrounding the Elkhorn Ranch in the western North Dakota badlands look very much the same as when a young Theodore Roosevelt first settled there in 1884.

Roosevelt moved to the ranch to heal after his first wife and mother both died on Valentine's Day 1884 -- exactly 129 years ago today. Though he lived at the ranch only a short time, and the log house and scores of cattle that once grazed there are long gone, this ranch is where Roosevelt first developed the conservation ethic that defined his term as the nation's 26th president and earned him the title the "Conservationist President."

Indeed, the Elkhorn Ranch, which is now part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is often referred to as the "cradle of conservation" and the "Walden Pond of the West."

Photo by David Nix/

But today the solitude and natural splendor of the 218-acre ranch and the entire national park are under increasing threat, park officials say, by rapidly expanding shale oil development in North Dakota's booming Bakken Shale play. Proposals to build a gravel pit and bridge within view of the park, both of which are related to the oil boom, also pose major risks.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at

History, Memory, Trees: A Civil War Reflection at Oatlands

Posted on: November 30th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments


Written by Katherine Malone-France, Historic Sites

Planting the first tree, from left: Sean Connaughton, Virginia Secretary of Transportation; Stephanie Meeks, National Trust president; Cate Magennis Wyatt, Journey Through Hallowed Ground founder and president; Michael O'Connor, Oatlands, Inc. board chairman; Col. Meg Roosma, West Point Alumni Glee Club and Andrea McGimsey, Oatlands executive director.

We are here today because we know there is healing power in re-planting after a bitter harvest. -- Rev. W. Morton Brown III

With that invocation, Oatlands, a Historic Site of the National Trust in Leesburg, Virginia, became home to the first of 620,000 trees -- one for every soldier who died during the Civil War -- to be planted along a transportation corridor stretching from Monticello to Gettysburg.

This effort, known as the Living Legacy Program, offered an opportunity for Oatlands, Inc., to combine its leadership in environmental sustainability with its continuing interpretation of a complex and compelling history. Eventually, 400 trees will be planted or dedicated at Oatlands, enhancing an already significant collection of historic trees. The trees will also be geo-tagged to allow smartphone users to learn the story of the soldier represented by each tree.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.


As part of back-to-school season, we’re featuring several impressive young preservationists who are saving places all around the country. Enjoy the first profile in our series!

Her blisters may have healed, but Millicent "Millie" Pepion’s work isn’t over.

This summer, the 27-year-old, a senior at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., trekked 1,300 miles from her Midwestern college town to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness for the Wakarusa Wetlands. The only remaining indigenous wetland prairie in Lawrence, the sacred site is threatened by proposed highway construction.

The Wakarusa Wetlands.

The land has been used as a space for ceremony, prayer, and education since the university was founded in 1884. For Pepion, whose origins are in Navajo and Blackfoot tribes, these wetlands have both historic and personal significance.

"I go there every week," Pepion says. "Walking around, putting energy into it, I feel better. It’s holy to me."

Saving the wetlands, she says, means honoring the children who died there in Haskell’s early days, as well as saving the more than 400 indigenous plants and 260 migratory birds that have been documented on the grounds.

As former president of her university’s environmental group, Pepion felt compelled to take action.

"Some people have been like, 'Just build the highway. It doesn’t matter; it was a long time ago. How will we ever move forward?'" she says. "But I think we can move forward. If something is truly special, it shouldn’t be destroyed just for a freeway."

Naming the walk the Trail of Broken Promises, she wrangled together a group of 13 students and community activists, plus one intrepid dog, to call attention to the wetlands and the challenges that come with preserving sacred places within Indian Country.

The walkers pause at the Trail of Death marker in downtown Paris, MO. Top row (l. to r.): Jackson Shaad, Wayne Yandell (Choctaw), Leonard Lowery III (Choctaw), Isacc Mitchell (Osage), Chad Buttram, Mary Iorio (3 Affiliated Tribes of ND), Shireen Ohadi-homadani (Creek), Michael Ofor (3 Affiliated Tribes of ND), and Millie Pepion (Navajo, Blackfeet). Bottom row (l. to r.): Julia Trechak, Mark Olsen (Citizen Band Potawatomi), and Chad Crisco (Kaw).

Setting out on May 13, the group covered eight states, taking turns to walk in groups of three or four while the others rode in cars, and arriving in Washington, D.C., seven weeks later.

Along the way, they visited little-known Native American sites and participated in events like the Great Lakes Native American Cultural Center’s powwow in Portland, Ind. They also met former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago on June 8, delivering a proposal to create a CGI Native America convention.

Once in the nation’s capital, Pepion and her group presented to Congress a piece of legislation to amend the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, "to provide a right of action to protect Native American Sacred Places" -- like the Wakarusa Wetlands. They also met with the Committee on Indian Affairs, National Congress of American Indians, and U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forestry to discuss the wetlands and the importance of preserving Native American sites.

Back in Lawrence, Pepion will continue to educate people about the importance of the wetlands and raise support for the legislation she presented to Congress.

"The walk is over, but we’re not done yet," she says. "We still have a lot of work to do."

Outside Congress. From l. to r.: Chad Buttram, Millie Pepion, Leonard Lowery, a fellow walker from the Navajo tribe, Stanley Perry (Navajo), Julia Trechack, Jackson Shaad, and Michael Ofor.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

[Slideshow] Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

Posted on: September 20th, 2012 by Elizabeth McNamara 3 Comments


As you’ll read in Preservation’s Fall 2012 issue, last October my husband and I spent two nights in rehabilitated historic lockhouses along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal outside Washington, DC. We’re both native Washingtonians, and yet in less than 48 hours we absorbed more cool facts about our city’s early history than we ever anticipated. Thanks to the Canal Quarters program, which rents out six restored lockhouses to guests, we experienced the 184.5-mile-long waterway as never before.

In anticipation of our Fall issue, I hope you enjoy these pictures of the historic canal, lockhouses, and surrounding parkland.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.