No other source has contributed more funding to the preservation of America’s hallowed ground than the American Battlefield Protection Program. This is not only for battlefields of the Civil War, but also the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Part of that program is the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program, which awards funding to state and local governments to acquire or obtain easements on battlefield land, as long as they have matching grants. Through federal grants programs, over 30,000 acres of hallowed ground in twenty states have been saved.
Just this week, three U.S. Senators reintroduced a bipartisan effort to pass the Preserving America’s Battlefields Act, showing how historic preservation is an issue all parties can agree on. Believing, “the sacrifices made on battlefields in Missouri and across the country forever changed the course of American life,” Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) worked with fellow Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) to make preservation a priority.
If the act is passed in the Senate, this bill will not only reauthorize the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program, but it would increase it to $20 million a year and an additional $2 million for restoring and interpreting high-priority battlefields.
In December, the House passed a companion bill (H.R. 6108) with overwhelming support. Representative Elise Stefanik of New York showed her support for the bill, saying “protecting historical battlefields is essential for creating rich educational programming for students, and for promoting our historic battlefields to tourists from across the globe to experience.”
According to the “Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields,” there are 383 Civil War and 243 Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields that are considered priority sites. Of the 383 Civil War battlefields, only 31 of them have more than half of the landscape protected; this ultimately means that 65 battlefields have no protection at all. For Revolutionary War and War of 1812, 141 sites are lost or are in fragments. 18 of them have no protection. The increase in funding, according to Senator Isakson, will “help ensure we are protecting and preserving our most vulnerable battlefield sites.”
The American Battlefield Trust (formerly, the Civil War Trust) made the following statement regarding support of the bill, “Continued support of the program from Congress is essential to preserve the thousands of unprotected and endangered acres of battlefield that remain.”