Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

A non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.

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Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway Statement Regarding Property Rights

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway fully supports property owners’ rights to use their property in any way they decide. Legislation to designate the Parkway as a National Heritage Area underscores the Parkway’s stance on private property rights and prevents the Parkway organization from interfering with the rights of any property owner.

The Parkway is not a regulatory agency and its boundaries do not mark a region where any land restrictions will be imposed by the Parkway. As a National Heritage Area, no land would be owned or managed by the National Park Service. Furthermore, the National Heritage Area designation cannot be used as a means to alter zoning or establish regulation.

It is the Parkway organization’s mission to meaningfully preserve, promote and celebrate the heritage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. The boundaries of the Parkway are largely symbolic in nature and represent an area where stories, traditions and other resources that best represent the heritage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers are located. The Parkway works with organizations located within this region to create additional opportunities for historic interpretation, education and recreation of these rivers. Participation in any of the activities and programs of the Parkway is completely voluntary.

The Parkway organization has recently received concerns that the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway will affect property rights. We take these concerns very seriously and want to assure everyone that the Parkway fully supports the protection of private property within the established boundaries and will in no way interfere with the property rights of any individual, business organization or agency. Any information that states otherwise is simply not true.

The Parkway organization feels so strongly about this issue that we had specific language included in our legislation to protect the rights of property owners when our bill was originally drafted:


Nothing in this Act—
(1) abridges the rights of any public or private property owner, including the right to refrain from participating in any plan, project, program, or activity conducted within the Heritage Area;
(2) requires any property owner—
(A) to permit public access (including access by Federal, State, tribal, or local agencies) to the property of the property owner; or
(B) to modify public access or use of property of the property owner under any other Federal, State, or local law;
(3) alters any duly adopted land use regulation, approved land use plan, or other regulatory authority of any Federal, State, or local agency;
(4) conveys any land use or other regulatory authority to the local coordinating entity;
(5) authorizes or implies the reservation or appropriation of water or water rights;
(6) diminishes the authority of the State to manage fish and wildlife, including the regulation of fishing and hunting within the Heritage Area; or
(7) creates any liability, or affects any liability under any other law (including regulations), of any private property owner with respect to any individual injured on the private property.

Before pursuing a National Heritage Area designation, the Parkway organization heavily researched the program and its impact on communities located in and around designated regions. The US General Accounting Office conducted a study of 24 heritage areas concluded that:

Despite concerns about private property rights, officials at the 24 heritage areas, Park Service headquarters and regional staff working within these areas, and representatives of six national property rights groups that we contracted were unable to provide us with a single example of a heritage area directly affecting—positively or negatively—private property values or use.

We respect the rights of others and believe that any infringement on those rights is simply wrong. Many of the board members, volunteers and supporters of the Parkway live within the boundaries of the Parkway region and are property owners themselves. We aim to create a Parkway that reflects the values and traditions of the citizens of our communities. It is our goal to enhance the natural, cultural and working landscape of our shared region, while promoting economic growth and protection of everyone’s rights.

With your support we will continue to build a heritage area that we can all be proud of. We greatly value the input of others throughout this process and invite you to participate in our planning process. Please contact us with any questions or to learn more about the Parkway at (920) 707-2965 or

Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway Duties

We are a locally-based organization that focuses on promoting the sites and natural resources of the communities found along the shores of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers.

We shall:

  • assist units of local government, regional planning organizations, and nonprofit organizations by—
    • carrying out programs and projects that recognize, protect, and enhance important resource values located in the Heritage Area;
    • establishing and maintaining interpretive exhibits and programs in the Heritage Area;
    • developing recreational and educational opportunities in the Heritage Area;
    • increasing public awareness of, and appreciation for, the natural, historical, scenic, and cultural resources of the Heritage Area;
    • protecting and restoring historic sites and buildings in the Heritage Area that are consistent with Heritage Area themes;
    • ensuring that clear, consistent, and appropriate signs identifying points of public access, and sites of interest, are posted throughout the Heritage Area; and
    • promoting a wide range of partnerships among governments, organizations, and individuals to further the Heritage Area;
  • consider the interests of diverse units of government, businesses, organizations, tribes, and individuals in the Heritage Area;
  • conduct meetings open to the public at least semiannually regarding the development and implementation of the management plan;
  • encourage, by appropriate means, economic viability that is consistent with the Heritage Area;

In the event we receive the National Heritage Area designation, we shall also:

  • for any year for which Federal funds have been received under this Act—
    • submit an annual report to the Secretary that describes the activities, expenses, and income of the local coordinating entity (including grants to any other entities during the year that the report is made);
    • make available to the Secretary for audit all records relating to the expenditure of the funds and any matching funds; and
    • require, with respect to all agreements authorizing expenditure of Federal funds by other organizations, that the organizations receiving the funds make available to the Secretary for audit all records concerning the expenditure of the funds.
  • Prohibition on the Acquisition of Real Property.—The local coordinating entity shall not use Federal funds made available under this Act to acquire real property or any interest in real property.

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