Thursday, October 29, 2009

Congress Allocates $9 Million to Preserve America's Endangered Civil War Battlefields

/PRNewswire/ -- The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) applauded members of the U.S. House and Senate for including the largest ever single-year allocation for the federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Interior Appropriations Act Conference Report (H. Rept. 111-316).

The conference report, scheduled for a final vote in both chambers later this week, includes $9 million for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, a mechanism that utilizes government matching grants and private funds to permanently protect historic Civil War battlefields throughout the nation.

"This is tremendous news that could not come at a more critical time," said CWPT President James Lighthizer. Each day 30 acres of our remaining Civil War battlefields are paved over and lost forever. This money will allow us to preserve thousands of acres of historic land that would otherwise be lost to urban sprawl."

Since its creation in 1999, the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program has been used to protect more than 15,000 acres of hallowed ground at 60 sites in 14 states. The program targets priority Civil War sites outside National Park Service (NPS) boundaries. 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 program are historic properties at Antietam and South Mountain, Md.; Champion Hill, Miss.; Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Manassas, Va.; Chattanooga and Fort Donelson, Tenn.; and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Although numerous members of the House and Senate have played important roles in ensuring the program's continued success, the following individuals were pivotal in securing this year's unprecedented federal commitment to battlefield preservation: Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Norm Dicks (D-WA); Senators Jim Webb (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL); and Congressmen, Bart Gordon (D-TN), Steve Israel (D-NY), Gary Miller (R-CA) and C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD). In addition, 16 Senators and 29 Member of Congress signed letters of support for the program earlier this year.

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