For Immediate Release: 05/09/03
Preservation Groups Join Forces to Protect Orange County Battlefield
(Orange County, Va.) - At a news conference this afternoon, the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) announced the rescue of historic Payne's Farm Battlefield in Orange County, Va. The 685-acre site, known locally as the Meadows Farm, was the scene of intense fighting on November 27, 1863.
PEC President Christopher Miller described the creative partnership that resulted in preservation of Payne's Farm as "an excellent example of a win-win deal. We were able to leverage private dollars with federal funds, and now have an opportunity to support both battlefield preservation and farmland protection."
CWPT President Jim Lighthizer noted that the deal wouldn't have been possible without the generosity of landowner Bill "The Farmer" Meadows, a well-known businessman who owns more than 20 nurseries throughout Virginia and Maryland. "Thanks to the generosity and community-mindedness of Mr. Meadows, 685 acres of historic farmland will be preserved for all Americans to enjoy."
In response to the accolades, Meadows modestly replied, "I'm finding myself very excited to preserve this beautiful and historic farm for future generations."
Lou Gallegos, Assistant Secretary for Administration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and author and historian Robert E. L. Krick, joined Miller, Lighthizer and Meadows at the news conference. Gallegos has been a strong advocate of using the federal Farmland Protection Program (FPP) as a tool to preserve historic farmland and encourage tourism in rural communities.
The Payne's Farm deal marks one of the first times FPP has been used to protect battlefield land. The recently reauthorized program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, can be used to protect farmland with "historic or cultural resources." Three FPP grants were awarded last year for farmland that witnessed Civil War combat - at Fairfield, Pa.; Kernstown, Va.; and Payne's Farm.
In addition to FPP money, Payne's Farm was the beneficiary of a matching grant from the federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program (CWBPP). This program, authorized by Congress and administered by the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), was signed into law by President Bush in December 2002.
CWPT will own and maintain the Payne's Farm Battlefield property. The conservation easements will be held by PEC and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, a state agency that currently holds more holds easements on more than 225,850 acres in the Old Dominion.
Although a tactical Union victory, the Battle of Payne's Farm enabled Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee to thwart a Federal offensive across the Rapidan River. The Confederate stand at Payne's Farm bought Lee the time he needed to concentrate the rest of his army west of nearby Mine Run. According to Krick, more than 1,200 casualties were inflicted at Payne's Farm and in a simultaneous encounter that occurred along the Orange Turnpike (modern day Route 20).
PEC is a 30-year-old member-supported organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the Piedmont's rural economy, natural resources, history and beauty. CWPT is a 43,000-member nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields.