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Webb calls for continued funding funding to preserve Civil War battlefields

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), joined by three other senators, today called on Senate appropriators to provide funding for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program. This program is especially relevant to Virginia, which is home to more major Civil War battles than any other state.

“With the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War having begun in April, this is an opportune time to recommit our energies to the protection of these hallowed grounds,” wrote the senators. “These lands, when preserved, serve as outdoor classrooms to educate current and future generations of Americans about this defining moment in our nation’s history. In addition, preserved battlefields are economic drivers for communities, bringing in tourism dollars that are extremely important to the economies of these communities.”

The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program is a national matching grants program that has been used to preserve more than 16,500 acres in 14 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.

“Each day 30 acres of hallowed Civil War battlefield ground are paved over and lost forever,” said Civil War Trust President Jim Lighthizer. “Funds for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program will allow private groups like the Civil War Trust to preserve historic land that would otherwise be lost to development and urban sprawl. I can think of no more fitting — and lasting — tribute during this sesquicentennial commemoration than to preserve the places where these brave soldiers fought and bled.”

Webb has been a leader in the Senate on a number of measures to protect and expand Virginia’s battlefields and national parks, provide federal designations for historic sites, and to maintain current landmarks. Passage of his Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act in 2009 re-authorized the American Battlefield Protection Program through 2013.

Sens. Kay Hagen (D-N.C.), John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) also signed Sen. Webb’s letter to appropriators.

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