Buddy Secor

What Goes into an American Battlefield Trust Land Preservation Victory?

During the 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. As of 2022, the Trust started Victory Week by announcing that it had surpassed 55,000 acres of preserved battlefield land, with news of multiple victories expected to make a splash later in the week! 

Opportunities to protect hallowed ground arrive on our radar in a variety of ways. Sometimes a landowner approaches us. In other instances, an eagle-eyed member or partner alerts us to a for sale sign that has gone up in their community or contacts us with inside information. The other side of the spectrum involves long term cultivation of a landowner, taking time to ensure they know preservation options and that when they’re ready to talk, our door is always open. 

Any of those scenarios will set wheels in motion. Then...

  • We map the property and consult historians; we commission environmental studies, surveys and appraisals.
  • We evaluate and seek out funding options — combinations of federal and state matching grants, each with separate guidelines, plus other unique circumstances — to determine if our fundraising need would be feasible.
  • We craft a mutually-acceptable preservation transaction with the landowner. This can involve the purchase or donation of property outright or of a conservation easement, based on fair market value.

  • Finally our Board decides whether or not we pursue the opportunity. 

Only then, after months or years of work by staff, do we share the project and the import of what happened at the property with members in a letter or email. And after receiving generous support of our members, we move forward to protect the site.

Attentive members might notice descriptions of recent projects that appear twice a year in Hallowed Ground and emails declaring victory on selected projects. Victory means that we have completed the transaction and raised the full funding amount required — including having received all grants and contributions from partners.