For Immediate Release: 10/02/02
House Passes Historic Legislation to Protect America's Civil War Battlefields
CWPT praises House for its commitment to protecting America's hallowed battlegrounds
(Washington, D.C.) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act of 2002 (H.R. 5125). The authorization bill, which passed the House by unanimous consent on Tuesday evening, authorizes $10 million a year to preserve endangered Civil War battlefields.
"This bill is a tremendous step forward for battlefield preservation," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "The bill will allow nonprofit groups to save thousands of acres of battlefield land that would have otherwise succumbed to the bulldozer's blade.
The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act officially authorizes a matching grant program funded by Congress in the fiscal 1999 and 2002 Interior Appropriations bills. Since its creation, the program has helped protect nearly 8,000 acres of historic battlefield land in 12 states, including key parcels at Antietam in Maryland; Champion Hill in Mississippi; Malvern Hill and Manassas in Virginia; and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
The bill was introduced by California Congressman Gary G. Miller (R) and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of ten House members. In his remarks from the House floor, Miller noted the educational benefits of protecting battlefield land, stating: "I believe by preserving history we teach future generations not only where we are from, but also what we are about, and where we are heading. These battlefields are living classrooms to remind future generations of our national history."
The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act formally establishes a program that targets priority Civil War battlefields outside National Park Service (NPS) boundaries. Grants from the program are competitively awarded by the American Battlefield Protection Program (an arm of NPS). By requiring matching funds, the program gets both the public and private sector actively involved in saving battlefield land. A similar bill (S. 2968) introduced by Sens. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), James Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is currently pending in the Senate.
With 42,000 members, CWPT 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.