Justice and Law Enforcement:

Allegations That Congressman Seiberling Received Preferential Treatment Regarding Land Transactions in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area

CED-80-135: Published: Aug 27, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 1980.

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Allegations were made that Congressman Seiberling received preferential treatment from the National Park Service (NPS) regarding land he owned and previously owned in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (CVNRA). Specifically, it was alleged that he was allowed to keep his home in the recreation area subject to certain restrictions (a scenic easement) while others were required to sell their homes to the Park Service.

GAO reviewed the legislation authorizing CVNRA, segment maps showing the location of each property in the area, and the land acquisition plan showing the interest to be acquired in properties. GAO also reviewed land acquisition records and interviewed NPS officials to obtain their reasons for allowing some landowners to keep their homes while others were required to sell. The review showed that Congressman Seiberling and his wife donated a scenic easement on the property containing his residence to the Akron Metropolitan Park District in February 1972, which was 33 months before CVNRA was established in December 1974. NPS plans to acquire the easement, which is in an area where the Service is acquiring easements from adjacent property owners rather than full title. On the basis of this review, it did not appear to GAO that NPS had given or planned to give Congressman Seiberling preferential treatment.

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