Kaine battlefield protection bill becomes law
The American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and U.S. Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), was signed into law by President Obama today following passage by both houses of Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 last week.
The legislation reauthorizes a National Park Service program that partners with landowners to preserve Civil War battlefields at risk of being lost to haphazard development. It will make Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefield sites eligible as well. Kaine first announced the legislation at Slaughter Pen Farm at Fredericksburg Battlefield in May 2013.
“Virginia is home to battlefields on which American soldiers gave their last full measure of devotion to bring about the nation we know today. Passage of this legislation helps preserve that land, allowing future generations to visit and reflect on our history,” said Kaine. “While it would be worth passing this legislation on that basis alone, battlefield preservation also helps drive local economies in small towns and helps preserve the rural character of fast-growing communities in our Commonwealth. I applaud my colleague Senator Cochran and our House partners Congressmen Wittman and Holt for the bipartisan cooperation that led to passage of this bill.”
“We are enormously grateful for Senator Kaine’s efforts to have this legislation included in the National Defense Authorization Act, and I commend him for his ongoing commitment to ensuring the protection of our nation’s battlefields,” said Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer. “We are blessed to have him as a staunch ally working towards our shared goals. His visionary leadership is directly responsible for the protection of thousands of acres of hallowed ground, both across Virginia and nation-wide.”
This program has preserved 24,000 acres of at-risk Civil War battlefield land in 16 states, including 11,500 acres in Virginia – more than any other state. A 2013 study found that compared to average tourists, tourists visiting Civil War battlefields stay twice as long and spend double the money. Kaine pushed for passage of the bill throughout the year, and, as Governor, worked with the General Assembly to support the program at the state level.