Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) sent a letter this week to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations requesting that the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program be funded at the House-supported level of $9 million in the FY 2010 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill.
The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program is a matching grants program that has been used to preserve more than 15,300 acres of hallowed ground in fourteen states during the past decade. The program’s matching grants formula encourages state and nonprofit investment in historic land preservation, making the program a model for public-private sector conservation partnerships.
“As America prepares for the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Civil War, it is more important than ever that we preserve these landmarks for future generations to learn about the history of our nation,” says Webb. “Once protected, these sites offer a myriad of benefits, serving as tourist attractions and outdoor classrooms while also spurring economic growth in local communities.”
The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program has exhausted its entire FY 2009 appropriation, and with the new fiscal year about to begin, there are 15 funding applications requesting more than $4.6 million in grant money already under consideration for the FY2010 appropriations cycle.
A strong advocate for battlefield preservation, Webb traveled last month to Winchester, Virginia to announce the acquisition of additional portions of the Third Battle of Winchester battlefield. He has been a leader in the Senate on a number of similar measures to protect and expand Virginia’s battlefields and national parks, to provide federal designations for historic sites, and to maintain current landmarks.
In 2007, he introduced the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act in the Senate to reauthorize the program for another five years. The measure was included in the Omnibus Public Lands Bill of 2008, and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2009.