Buddy Secor

What Goes into an American Battlefield Trust Land Preservation Victory?

During the American Battlefield Trust's annual Victory Week, which falls squarely within May's Historic Preservation Month, the organization takes the time to explain the "victory" process, shares memorable projects and debuts a slew of recent victories.

See our recent victories

When we talk about "achieving victory," the term signifies the conclusion of our process to save, and sometimes restore, hallowed ground. Read on to learn the steps that go into a preservation victory.

Identify Opportunities 

Chances to protect battlefield acreage appear in a variety of ways, including: 

  • The long-term cultivation of relationships with landowners
  • Landowners directly approaching the Trust 
  • A local member or partner notifying us of a “for sale” sign
  • Regardless of how we identify an opportunity, the Trust only works with willing sellers and fair market values.

Conduct Research

Once the potential to preserve hallowed ground arises, we begin researching in earnest to: 

  • Map the property and consult with historians to determine historical significance 
  • Perform environmental studies, surveys and appraisals of the land 
  • Conduct legal research and continue negotiations with the landowner 
  • Consult with local groups and decision-makers about the tract and its potential 
  • Develop the beginnings of a restoration plan, when applicable

Explore Funding Options

We then evaluate and seek out funding options for the tract. Among the mechanisms we consider are:

  • Federal, state, and local matching grant programs
  • Foundations or other potential major donation sources 
  • Unique opportunities, such as landowner donations or life estates that allow a seller to retain access to the land

Land Transaction

After the background work is complete, we craft a mutually acceptable preservation transaction — either outright purchase or placement of a conservation easement — with the landowner. Each one is vetted and approved by our Board of Trustees. 

Member Engagement

Only after months or years of this behind-the-scenes work do we share the project, and the importance of what happened there, with members in a letter or email. After receiving the generous support of our members, we can move forward to protect the site, and keep you updated on completed purchases in a twice-yearly list within the pages of Hallowed Ground.

Celebrating Victory

Periodically, we send special messages to “declare victory” on selected projects, which means that: 

  • The legal transaction is complete 
  • We have raised the full amount required from our members 
  • All grant requirements are met and disbursements in hand 
  • Any contributions from partner groups are received 
  • When appropriate, restoration work is completed or in a state where the land can be transferred to a long-term steward, such as the National Park Service

Celebrate Our Victories

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