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Politics may kill Claude Moore Colonial Farm

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 11/16/2018 Peggy Fox

MCLEAN, Va. -- The National Park Service plans to close Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean next month after a contract dispute when sour.

You take a step back in time at Claude Moore Colonial in McLean. It's a place where you will see people sewing petticoats, raising, growing and cooking their own food, planting and drying their own tobacco. The wild turkeys roam to eat the insects that feed on tobacco.

RELATED: National Park Service sends termination notice to Claude Moore Colonial Farm

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At Claude Moore Colonial Farm, it's all done authentically, the way things were in 1771. It's not Mt. Vernon or Monticello. This is way poor people lived.

"It's the only living history museum that we know of that shows what colonial life was like in 1771" said Elliot Curzon, a member of Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm, a non-profit that has operated the farm since 1981.

The farm was opened by the National Park Service ten years prior in 1971.

The property is still part of the National Park Service, which is trying to wield more control. The Friends of Claude Moore won't budge. Curzon is the organization's attorney.

"We're unique in the Park System because we're the only self-sustaining park service operation that does not cost taxpayers a dime. The Park Service contributes nothing to our operation," said Curzon.

He's frustrated because the National Park Service is planning to shutdown Claude Moore on December 21st, in part because the Friends of Claude Moore won't sign a ten year contract. They want a longer one.

"We need to make some capital improvements to continue the viability of the farm," said Curzon.

He compared it to building a house on someone else's land.

"We need a long-term commitment," he said.

RELATED: Dispute with National Park Service could close Va.'s Claude Moore Colonial Farm

So why isn't there a resolution? It all boils down to politics. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who just lost her race, is sponsoring legislation that would convey the property to Friends of Claude Moore as long as they continue to operated a farm here.

So far, there's not one Democrat in Virginia's congressional delegation that publicly supports the legislation. Sources said they see it as a land grab, similar to the controversies in the National Parks out west.

"I think it's a tragedy. They're denying their constituents the enjoyment of this farm and it's historical and community value forever," said Curzon.

The officers of Senators Kaine and Warner provided the follwoing statement:

"The Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a local treasure. Both Senator Warner and Senator Kaine have spoken directly to the President’s nominee to head the National Park Service about the situation, and will continue to encourage both sides to agree on an extension before the existing cooperative agreement expires in December."

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