Civil War Trust
For Immediate Release: 05/16/05
Preservation Trust Unveils Study on Economic Benefits of Protecting History
Report reveals how battlefield tourism delivers millions of dollars to local communities.
(Washington, D.C.) - After two years of investigation that included hundreds of interviews, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) today released the results of an independent study showing the economic benefits of battlefield preservation. The report, entitled Blue, Gray and Green: A Battlefield Benefits Guide for Community Leaders, provides concrete measures to help elected officials determine when preserving historic land makes good economic sense.
"Civil War battlefields are not just national treasures," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "Each one is also a treasure trove of benefits for its neighboring community. Millions of Americans are willing to spend their money to visit these historic shrines — as long as local officials have the wisdom to not pave them over."
The study included surveys conducted at 13 different sites, representing a cross-section of Civil War battlefield parks throughout the nation. Although a majority of the sites surveyed are maintained by the National Park Service, CWPT also examined battlefields maintained by state and local governments, and private entities.
The 13 sites examined are: Antietam, Md.; Bentonville, N.C.; Brice's Cross Roads, Miss.; Corinth, Miss.; Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania, Va.; Franklin, Tenn.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Mill Springs, Ky.; New Market, Va.; Perryville, Ky.; Port Hudson, La.; Shiloh, Tenn.; and Wilson's Creek, Mo.
The survey data included in the report show that Civil War battlefields attract affluent, well-educated tourists who come to the area specifically to visit the battlefield. While in the region, these Civil War tourists are likely to stay longer and spend more than the average pleasure visitor to a community.
According to the Blue, Gray and Green Guide, each year Civil War tourists spend an average of $173.6 million in the surveyed battlefield communities, bringing in $15.3 million in state and $7.7 million in local tax revenue. The study also found that, on average, every 702 non-local visitors to a battlefield translates into a new job in the local community.
In addition to quantifying the economic impact of these Civil War sites, the Blue, Gray and Green Guide creates an easy-to-use index showing local decision makers how those factors may be applied to their community. The index examines the number of non-local tourists that visit the battlefield, and the expenditures of those visitors (broken down according to shopping and lodging expenditures).
The Blue, Gray and Green Guide is especially important in communities where developers are forcing local elected officials to decide between preserving their historic spaces and opening it to commercial or residential development. The Guide demonstrates how to determine the economic windfall generated by a Civil War battlefield or historic site in terms of visitor spending, job creation and tax revenues. It also indicates that new developments generate new costs.
In his remarks, Lighthizer emphasized that there are continuing economic benefits to preservation, while development often brings continuing increased costs. According to the Blue, Gray and Green Guide, the costs for providing schools, roads, water and other public services to an area are often greater than the tax revenue the development produces.
The Blue, Gray and Green study was conducted by Davidson Peterson Associates in 2003 and 2004. The guide was partially funded by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
With 70,000 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. CWPT's website is www.civilwar.org.