(Washington, D.C.) -The Civil War Trust applauds the U.S. House Appropriations Committee for including $8.9 million for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies 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 23,000 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.
Numerous members of the House have provided invaluable support for the program in recent years, including House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.); and House Interior-Environment Appropriations Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-Va.). In addition, Congressmen Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) are the sponsors of legislation passed by the House of Representatives in 2013 that would reauthorize the program for an additional five years.
"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 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 39,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.