McLean, Va (WUSA9) — A dispute with the National Park Service could close a special place in the D.C. area.
Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a living history museum that provides a real-life glimpse into what family life was like on a small farm in 1771, just before the Revolutionary War.
It's a privately-funded National Park which sits on 12 acres in McLean, next to Turkey Run and the CIA.
It opened in 1973, but since the 1980s, the Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm have operated it under a lease from the National Park Service, which owns the land. After a period of negotiations between the NPS and Friends, a final agreement was sent.
"Suddenly, the terms started becoming more rigid and strict, and we got an ultimatum to take it or leave it, and the terms we were asked to take, we didn't think we could run the farm. Under those terms, we hoped we could negotiate through that. But the Park Service decided to end its relationship with us," said Anderson.
NPS spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said the Friends of Claude Moore Farm wanted "all the privileges of operating in a National Park, but none of the responsibility or accountability."
She said the Park Service is trying to bring all of its parks into compliance with certain standards.
The Friends said the NPS wanted extremely burdensome oversight that would've destroyed the non-profit by taking away their ability to raise necessary funds. The farm's budget is $400,000 and none of that comes from the NPS.
"It costs the Park Service nothing right now. We are entirely independent. We raise our own money to fund everything, the infrastructure, the animals, the staff, the expert staff," said Anderson.
There are six employees who grow the crops, cook the food, take care of the animals, run the farm and serve as historical interpreters. And the prices to the public are low: $5 for adults and $3 for children. The organization makes most of its money renting pavilions at neighboring Turkey Run Park.
"We don't even know if Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is clear about what's happening here. Given his initiatives and interest in public private partnership, we think this farm is a model for public private partnership. This works. It's been working for nearly four decades. And I don't see why it can't work for another four decades," said Anderson.
The National Park Service has sent Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm a termination letter, effective December 31st, 2018. Which means everything: the animals, all property of the Friends group must go. Unless a new agreement can be worked out. That's what the Friends hope for. If not, The National Park Service spokesperson says they don't know what it will do with the property, but it does not have any plans to sell it.