For Immediate Release: 10/29/08
Civil War Preservation Trust Supports Findings of Newest NPCA "State Of The Parks" Report
Latest report explores challenges facing Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi
(Washington, D.C.) - Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) president James Lighthizer released the following statement praising a report on the state of Vicksburg National Military Park. The report was issued today by the National Parks Conservation Association's (NPCA) Center for the State of the Parks.
"Vicksburg is one of the most iconic sites of the entire Civil War. The surrender of that southern citadel to Maj. Gen Ulysses S. Grant on July 4, 1863, was a major turning point in the conflict, securing it a rightful place among the units of the National Park Service - the crown jewels of America.
"Unfortunately, like many other Civil War battlefields and historic sites, Vicksburg National Military Park faces a variety of ongoing challenges. Chief among these are the lack of adequate staff and funding to fully interpret the many resources included in the park. Currently, the park only employs a single historian and museum curator to manage its vast cultural resources. Furthermore, there are only five guides and rangers to manage all interpretive services. This means that each would be responsible for educating 140,000 visitors each year - an unreasonable expectation if each is to be adequately served! This staff shortfall means that many visitors do not receive as fully rewarding an experience as we would hope, and leave with a less thorough understanding of the history that transpired there.
"The receipt of a $142,000 Centennial Initiative Challenge grant that Vicksburg National Military Park celebrates this week is definitely a step in the right direction. Much of that money will go toward the replacement of 144 historical markers, which were removed as part of the scrap metal drive to help support America's efforts in World War II, and maintenance of other existing monuments. Significant funding increases for staff and maintenance are still necessary to improve the visitor experience.
"The Civil War Preservation Trust is committed to letting this and future generations of Americans follow in the footsteps of heroes by protecting the hallowed ground where Civil War battles were fought. The National Park Service is among the best possible stewards for these historic landscapes, yet improvements can still be made to better realize their interpretive and educational potential. We commend NPCA for its continuing efforts to shed light on the challenges faced by America's national parks."
With 60,000 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.