Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Endorses Battlefield Preservation Initiative

Commission unanimously passes resolution endorsing state funding for

battlefield preservation in the years leading up to the 150th anniversary

of the Civil War.

Dec 05, 2007, 00:00 ET from The Civil War Preservation Trust

    RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At its meeting last
 week, the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission
 unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the Civil War Preservation
 Trust's (CWPT) Virginia Sesquicentennial Battlefield Initiative. The
 Initiative encourages state funding for battlefield preservation in
 Virginia during prior to and during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War
     "This is an immensely promising development for Virginia's
 battlefields," said CWPT President James Lighthizer. "As we approach the
 Civil War's sesquicentennial, these hallowed grounds are more threatened
 than ever before. There is no better way to commemorate the sacrifices of
 our ancestors than to permanently protect the land where they fought and
     CWPT has spent two decades working to protect hallowed ground in the
 Commonwealth and throughout the nation. While the Trust has already
 preserved nearly 12,000 acres of battlefield land at 40 sites in Virginia,
 significantly more historic land in the Old Dominion remains vulnerable to
 development. As part of the Initiative, CWPT has identified in excess of
 50,000 acres within the state that should, if possible, be preserved prior
 to the Sesquicentennial, lest they be lost forever. Nationally, an average
 of 30 acres of hallowed ground is destroyed daily.
     "The Commission feels very strongly that preservation must be a central
 part of our commemoration activities," said Virginia House Speaker Bill
 Howell, Chairman of the Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. "As
 the stewards of these sacred places, it is incumbent upon us to see them
 protected so that future generations may learn from them."
     The upcoming commemoration is expected to generate increased interest
 in both Civil War history and visitation to Civil War-related sites. Since
 preserved battlefields function as both outdoor classrooms and tourist
 destinations, the Virginia Sesquicentennial Battlefield Initiative is an
 ideal way to enhance this period of remembrance.
     "Through its actions, the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission is
 ensuring that for generations to come, students of history will be able to
 come to the Old Dominion to follow in the footsteps of heroes," Lighthizer
 noted "We at CWPT are proud to have such a visionary partner in our
 preservation efforts, particularly one which unanimously recognizes the
 importance of this undertaking."
     In the Initiative, CWPT calls for a yearly appropriation of $5 million
 for battlefield preservation to be considered along with each annual the
 state budget. If approved, the money will be made available in the form of
 matching grants requiring two dollars in private funds for each dollar
 allocated by the state. This mechanism effectively triples the power of the
 state's contribution and creates a powerful public-private partnership.
 Previously, in fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08, the state legislature has
 approved a total of $700,000 in appropriations for battlefield
 preservation, funds that have been used toward the acquisition of the
 Slaughter Pen Farm in Spotsylvania County and portions of the Glendale
 battlefield in Henrico County.
     Although the Commission's vote does not guarantee the funding, it is an
 important step in formalizing the group's stated intention that
 preservation, along with education, must be an important component of the
     In addition to their historical importance, preserved battlefields
 maintain valuable open space in some of the state's fastest growing
 regions. Many of these battlefields lie within the Chesapeake Bay
 watershed, giving them key environmental importance. Others, moreover,
 contain threatened wildlife habitats, riparian zones and endangered streams
 and creeks.
     With 65,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield
 preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve
 our nation's remaining Civil War battlefields. Since 1987, the organization
 has saved more than 25,000 acres of hallowed ground, including 11,775 acres
 in Virginia. CWPT's website is located at
     To view the Commission's endorsement resolution, visit:
     To view CWPT's Virginia Sesquicentennial Battlefield Initiative, visit:

SOURCE The Civil War Preservation Trust