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 included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 announced by Senate and House negotiators last night.
The legislation will reauthorize 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.
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 has 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.
The House of Representatives is expected to consider the bill this week followed by Senate consideration next week.