South Mountain Battlefield, 2019. Photo by The Washington Post.

South Mountain Battlefield State Park Caught up in Federal Land Swap

02/12/2019
By Preservation Maryland

In late December 2018, it was revealed that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had been quietly negotiating with former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on a proposed land swap that would have given Oxon Cove National Park in Prince George’s County to the state in return for 2,500-acres at South Mountain State Battlefield that would be transferred to the federal government.

The land at Oxon Cove would in turn be used as the location for a new stadium for the Washington football team or some other development opportunity. Putting aside the controversial use of Oxon Cove – a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places – the swap itself raised serious concerns over the precedent it would set by trading away state parks in a less-than-transparent process.

State Senator Ron Young, who represents Frederick County, was quoted in the Baltimore Sun echoing that concern, “I don’t see why we would want to start giving up state parks,” Young said. “That’s a very popular park there. I just don’t see how it’s a good idea.”

In The News: Preservation Maryland’s Executive Director Nicholas A. Redding was quoted in the February Washington Post article, “On a Civil War battlefield in Western Maryland, opposition to Hogan’s land swap” inviting Gov. Larry Hogan to a tour of South Mountain Battlefield.

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Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding, who was interviewed by the Washington Post about the issue and provided reporters a tour of South Mountain, explained, “It’s not about it becoming a unit of the National Park Service or not – it’s about the idea that we would give away parks without public input; it’s about recognizing places like South Mountain and Oxon Cove are being utilized and tell powerful stories.”

With the support of a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, Preservation Maryland is in the final stages of authoring a report on the future of South Mountain and hopes to work in partnership with the Hogan Administration to discuss opportunities for the battlefield which would capitalize on its unique story without trading it away.

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