Congress Allocates $8.9 Million For Federal Grants To Protect Civil War Battlefields
(Washington, D.C.) –The Civil War Trust today applauded the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for including $8.9 million for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program, which provides federal matching grants to protect historically significant battlefield land outside National Park Service boundaries, has been used to protect more than 19,000 acres of hallowed ground in 16 states.
“This is tremendous news that could not come at a more critical time,” remarked Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer. “Over the past decade, development pressure on unprotected but historically significant battlefield land has only increased. These grants will be matched with private sector donations to preserve thousands of acres of historic land that would otherwise be lost forever.”
Since Congress first authorized it in 2002, the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program has enjoyed broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The program is considered 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. Grants from the program are awarded by the American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of NPS.
Among the sites saved as a result of this innovative grants program are historic properties at Antietam and South Mountain, Md.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Vicksburg and Champion Hill, Miss.; Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Manassas, Va.; Shiloh, Chattanooga and Fort Donelson, Tenn.; Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; and other battlefields.
In addition to funding for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, the FY 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act includes $5.5 million for acquiring inholdings at Civil War battlefield national parks. Inholdings result from private ownership of lands prior to the designation of the protected park, which then end up grandfathered within the legally designated boundary. Thousands of acres of inholdings exist at Civil War battlefields maintained within the National Park System.
Numerous members of the House and Senate have played important roles in ensuring the program’s continued success, but the following individuals provided pivotal support in securing this year’s federal commitment to battlefield preservation: Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Jack Reed, D-R.I. and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; as well as U.S. Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., Jim Moran, D-Va., and Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
“Preserved Civil War battlefields are living monuments – not just to the men in blue and gray who fought there – but to all of America’s veterans,” Lighthizer said. “They serve as outdoor classrooms, teaching young and old alike about the sacrifices made to forge the nation we are today.”
The FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act was passed earlier this week by healthy majorities in both the House and Senate. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law over the weekend.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 38,500 acres of battlefield land in 20 states.