For Immediate Release: 11/20/02
Senate Adopts Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Civil War Battlefields
Historic legislation to save Civil War battlefields now heads to the President for his signature
(Washington, D.C.) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) today praised the U.S. Senate for adopting the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act of 2002 (H.R. 5125). The bipartisan bill authorizes a $10 million a year program to preserve endangered Civil War battlefields. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent in the final days of the 107th Congress.
"This bill underscores Capitol Hill's commitment to saving America's Civil War battlefields," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "Without this legislation, many of our nation's most hallowed battlegrounds would be lost to development during the next few years."
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. In the past year alone, the program has helped save historic property at Prairie Grove, Arkansas; Antietam, Maryland; Chancellorsville, Virginia; and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
The Senate bill was introduced by Sens. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and James Jeffords (I-Vt.) in mid-September. Sarbanes regards the bill as "an important opportunity to maintain and preserve tangible links to our past so that future generations may experience firsthand this most critical moment in our nation's 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.
Companion legislation introduced by Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and George Radanovich (R-Calif.) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on October 1. According to Miller, "these battlefields are living classrooms to remind future generations of our national history." Since the House and Senate bills are identical, no conference agreement is necessary and the non-controversial bill now heads to the President for his expected signature.
With 43,000 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.