Congress Allocates $10 Million for Battlefield Preservation in Omnibus Appropriations Bill
(Washington, D.C.) – The Civil War Trust applauds Congress for including $10 million for the National Park Service’s Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Program in the Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1625). Congressional leaders included funding for the program in the federal spending bill passed by the House on Thursday and approved by the Senate early Friday morning. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law Friday afternoon.
The Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Program provides federal matching dollars to protect historically significant battlefield land associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and American Civil War. The innovative program has been used to protect 30,000 acres of hallowed ground in 20 states.
“With this action, members of Congress have delivered great news that comes at a critical hour for endangered American battlefields,” remarked Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer. “Development pressure on unprotected but nationally important battlefield land is increasing. With this appropriation, the Park Service will be able to match federal grants with private-sector donations, multiplying the impact of those dollars while preserving thousands of acres of historic land that otherwise would be lost forever.”
Since Congress first authorized the program in 2002, the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Program has enjoyed broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The program is seen as a model for cooperative partnerships between the National Park Service (NPS), state and local governments, and the private sector. Its matching-grants formula encourages nonprofit groups to invest in acquisition of battlefield lands from willing sellers. By targeting land outside NPS boundaries, it does not contribute to the agency’s park maintenance backlog. Grants are awarded by the American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of NPS.
Among the sites saved as a result of the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program are historic properties at Antietam, Md.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Vicksburg and Champion Hill, Miss.; Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Appomattox Court House, Va.; Princeton, N.J.; Fort Ann and Sacketts Harbor, N.Y.; Shiloh, Chattanooga and Fort Donelson, Tenn.; and other battlegrounds of the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War.
Numerous members of the House and Senate have provided invaluable support for the program in recent years, including: House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.); House Interior-Environment Appropriations Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member
Betty McCollum (D-Minn.); House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Chairman John Culberson (R-Texas); Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); and Senate House Interior Appropriations Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-N.M.). In addition, Representatives Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) championed the program throughout the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process.
“Preserved battlefields are living monuments — not just to the men who fought there, but to all of our veterans,” Lighthizer said. “Functioning as outdoor classrooms, these sites teach young and old alike about the sacrifices made to create and define the nation we are today.”
The Civil War Trust is a national nonprofit land preservation organization devoted to the protection of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. It saves the battlefields of the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and educates the public about their importance in forging the nation we are today. To date, the Trust has preserved over 48,000 acres of battlefield land in 24 states. Learn more at Civilwar.org.