Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report
National Park Service

How can Battlefields be Better Protected?

In the United States, historic preservation has tended to focus on sites, buildings, and historic districts of more modest size than most Civil War battlefields. Currently the average size of the more than 60,000 historic properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places is 200 acres. By contrast, the average size of the 384 principal Civil War battlefield study areas is around 4,200 acres.

Most historic preservation approaches tend to be adapted to smaller, community-based properties; open land preservation techniques are not widely applied to historic preservation. This often has left landowners, developers, and public officials feeling that there is no way to simultaneously preserve battlefields and change land use. Under these circumstances, the relationship between public responsibility and private rights is often strained.

Earlier we noted that, although a variety of preservation activities are underway, protection of battlefields in national and state park systems has been the principal hope for battlefield protection, a hope becoming progressively forlorn as the scale of the protection needs becomes more clearly defined. It seems safe to say, with public ownership having only addressed relatively small parts at many of the 95 national and state battlefield parks, and with public revenues being extremely limited, that we need to rethink the approach.

The Commission sponsored workshops to bring together experts in fields related to preservation, planning, and tax law. Findings and preservation alternatives distilled from these meetings and related studies are reported in Civil War Heritage Preservation: A Study of Alternatives by Elizabeth B. Waters with assistance from Denice M. Dressel.

The key finding from those studies is that there is no "magic bullet." Indeed, there are not many truly new ideas around, but there are many unimplemented ideas that could be helpful to protecting Civil War battlefields. The Commission particularly wishes to emphasize the following topics:

Government Leadership

Federal, state, and local governments need to exercise, or expand, their roles as battlefield preservation leaders; they must define directions, ensure tools are available, and periodically report on progress.

Directions Foremost among leadership needs is to define the results expected from a national campaign to preserve Civil War battlefields. The historic resources of the Civil War embody a very broad national legacy. Not only do we have the battlefields and their landscapes, but there are numerous interesting military fortifications and archeological sites still in excellent condition that never were involved in battle; there are the buildings and structures of villages and towns which were settings for the unfolding conflict. But, in addition, these mid-19th century town and country settings often predate the Civil War by substantial periods, at times reaching back to 18th century America. Protecting our Civil War heritage also protects a cultural and historical legacy from the first century of our national life.

Battlefield landscapes provide a physical framework for extending local heritage preservation, education, and tourism to a range of collateral historic properties. Heritage tourism is, or can be, a valuable industry for those communities with a need to strengthen their economies. Heritage tourism shares the message of a region's history and is a principal means by which much of the educational function inherent in historic properties is realized. But carrying out educational programs and reaping economic benefits can only happen when original historic properties remain to convey an authentic sense of the historic place.

Insofar as the battles of the Civil War are concerned, the Commission has concluded that, out of more than 10,000 such places, 384 are the principal battle sites. These are the places needed to tell many important stories but, in fact, they are all chapters of a single, grand story. Therefore, the Commission believes that the result, or national goal, of Civil War battlefield preservation should be to provide a national assemblage, or set of key site locations, of as many as remain of the 384 principal battlefields. We will then have the means to show to our children all the major episodes of our profoundest tragedy and national rebirth. Communities can then build educationally as well as economically on this network of sites by connecting it to related Civil War properties as well as to other elements of our national, state, and local history. Such a network is a vital national resource for conveying those basic American themes and values that keep us from fragmenting into competing cultures: democracy and unity, equality and tolerance, respect for the land and for the rights of others.

Responsibilities. Preservation of Civil War battlefields, especially the Class A and B sites, requires strong Federal leadership coupled with prompt, coordinated public/private actions. Likewise, preservation of the Class C and D battlefields should depend on strong leadership from state governments. This need not be a rigid distinction, but the existing tendency is for states to be primarily concerned with Class B and C sites in their park systems and for the Federal government to be primarily concerned with Class A and B sites in the National Park System (Table 3) and (Table 5). While this supports the Commission's belief that these are practical lines along which to divide primary preservation leadership responsibility it also illustrates the need for some entity to assume greater interest and oversight responsibility for preservation of Class D sites. The states seem a logical partner to do this.

Leadership responsibility includes establishing goals, coordinating policies, providing authoritative historical information and maps, recommending preservation standards and guidelines, appropriating funds to adequately operate Federal and state-owned battlefields, some stimulating non-government activities with limited financial aid, and providing technical assistance. It also includes initiating or recommending legislation to make sure private organizations and individuals, as well as Federal, state, and local agencies, have the necessary authorities to protect battlefield land.

The existing National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program is an appropriate agency to continue to coordinate Federal activities. It would also be desirable to periodically reconstitute this Commission to review and report on the overall progress, or perhaps to assign this responsibility to some other non-Federal body.

Four states recently have created Civil War sites commissions. States that have not done so, particularly in those states with a significant number of the principal battlefields (Table 2) should consider establishing such a coordinating body. These should be urged to adopt the priorities recommended in this report and to seek technical support from the NPS American Battlefield Protection Program if needed. Also, the Federal and State Historic Preservation Officers provide an existing administrative structure and body of technical specialists available through the National historic preservation program. Although this program already is overburdened with current demands, it could be used as part of the delivery mechanism for an expanded partnership-based Civil War heritage preservation program if they were provided additional operating funds.

Public/Private Partnerships. Because of the number and extent of battlefield sites, because of the practical limitations in current Federal, state, and local budget policy, because land use regulation responsibilities are state and local responsibilities, and because the great majority of Civil War battlefield land is in private hands, a public/private partnership approach to battlefield preservation is virtually the only credible structure available at this time through which leadership can act.

The battlefield preservation activity cycle of research, field mapping, devising a protection plan, marketing the plan to legislatures and donors to raise funds, and implementing the management of a site according to the plan requires a breadth of expertise that few if any organizations in the nation possess. But many possess parts of what is needed. Government agencies often are focused on process and private groups on product; both are important. Private entities have the ability to respond rapidly to circumstances and stimulate volunteer efforts; public agencies are good at setting policy, conducting impartial research and technical evaluations, and regulating.

To successfully address 384 battlefields, governments must ensure that it is possible for such combinations to come together effectively. Traditional jurisdictional barriers can limit working relationships, but now there is a need for separate public and private agencies to form combinations to accomplish particular objectives, like protecting a battlefield, by engaging only their respective strengths and without being curtailed by their respective bureaucratic conventions and traditions.

If necessary, Congress should consider authorizing a public/private corporate structure that would facilitate these now-separate, but largely complementary, groups to come together as one or more functioning partnership entities to address specific preservation needs or specific sites.

Preservation Priorities

The Commission has determined that many of the 384 principal battlefields are in precarious preservation situations. Today, 19 percent (71) of these battlefields have been lost, even though some significant parts may remain. Another 42 percent (160) is in imminent danger of being fragmented by development threats and lost as coherent historic sites. Without prompt action on the threatened sites, within the next ten years, the nation may lose an aggregate of fully two-thirds of the major Civil War battlefields.

Battlefield Priorities. After evaluating alternative combinations of significance, condition, and threats, the inventory of 384 sites has been divided into several priority levels. These levels reflect the Commission's view of the most effective sequence of preservation to achieve maximum overall battlefield protection. A summary of which theaters of operations the priority sites are located in is given in Table 6; the complete battlefield inventory is listed by priorities in Table 7 at the end of this chapter.

Management Priorities. With the Commission's inventory of the principal battlefield sites, it should be possible for both the Federal and state governments to consult with local governments to (1) define the extent of sites that should be brought into their respective park systems, and (2) complete the boundary studies that identify the areas of potential public ownership and management.

Stabilizing the national and state park systems undoubtedly means some expansion, but not an unreasonable amount. However, by public agencies adopting a comprehensive Civil War battlefield protection program, the remainder of battlefields in our inventory then should be the heart of private and non-profit organizational efforts. This clarifies intentions among organizations and eliminates the piecemeal, "no sense of where it will all end" approach.

In addition, the Federal and state governments should work with local governments and appropriate private groups adjacent to battlefields in public ownership to prepare comprehensive plans for the protection of battlefield areas both inside and adjacent to but outside of the publicly-owned boundaries. Among other things, these plans should determine what parts are or will be under other public management (e.g., local parks, greenways, adjacent Federal lands), and determine what parts (such as areas in direct view that are essential parts of the interpretive setting) should be protected through cooperative measures taken with local authorities and adjacent landowners. Because some battlefields, like part of Camp Allegheny, are owned by non-park public agencies (in this case, the U.S. Forest Service), this is not always a park issue but one of general public land management.

The National Park Service is urged to seek appropriations to undertake a study of the campaigns and themes identified in Table 4 that the Commission believes are major gaps in the National Park System's protection of Civil War battlefields. Several of the principal sites shown in Table 4 already have some public ownership, with several even being state or local battlefield parks, although the area protected in most of these instances needs to be expanded. The point the Commission wishes to make is that the campaigns and themes identified in Table 4 are of great importance. The National Park Service should study the best way to preserve and interpret the associated key sites. This might be through addition to the National Park System in some cases. But it might equally be done through financial and/or technical assistance to the state of local government park authority if they have a serious commitment to preserving the battlefield. Given the availability of data collected by the Commission, we recommend the National Park Service conduct a special resource study to look at all of the issues and sites shown in Table 4 as a group at a cost not exceeding $500,000.

The Federal policy of requiring a statutory authorization and other clearances prior to the National Park Service accepting land donations outside currently authorized park boundaries can significantly hinder battlefield preservation. Time may be of the essence to consummating a sale either to a non-profit organization intending to donate the property to the National Park Service or to private owners in a position to make donations.

The Commission understands that donations create a permanent Federal financial responsibility to manage and operate the land. We also understand that it is preferable that local jurisdictions support making these additions to National parks. However, the National Park Service, knowing fully the historical and operational implications of such donations, should be able to ask the Congress to consider such a boundary extension on an expedited basis where rapid acceptance of a donation is in the public interest. Past experience suggests such occasions would not occur often and would be within or close to the authorized boundary of battlefield parks assuming these boundaries are relatively current.

At least nine Federal agencies other than the National Park Service (i.e., Air Force, Army, Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Navy, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Department of Veterans Affairs) have permanent jurisdiction over all or part of 29 battlefields (Table 7). The NPS American Battlefield Protection Program should consult with these agencies under current historic preservation laws and determine whether any actions should be recommended to the heads of these agencies to assist with the protection of these sites.

Finally, as noted earlier, the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and other government financial institutions occasionally hold title or contracts on historic battlefield land. These agencies should be authorized to transfer such lands to the National Park Service, state or local governments, or to qualified non-profit organizations. The Commission estimates that the revenue loss based on the Federal government not selling the two currently identified properties would be less than $1 million. Judging from comparing the number of battlefields in each state to the number of properties from each state in RTC records, the aggregate revenue loss over the next seven years would not exceed $3 million but could protect several significant battlefield parcels.

Private Sector Preservation

In the preservation approach described here, private sector activities need not be limited in any sense. Opportunities exist for private as well as public owners and organizations to participate significantly in preserving Civil War battlefields. To take full advantage of the private sector's potential, though, we must open up new opportunities for battlefield preservation and create a more constructive, businesslike relationship between owners and government.

Create better tools for private owners. Battlefield land owners need better incentives and opportunities to be effective stewards of their historic land through being able to keep the land, care for its historic elements, and provide opportunities to people to view the historic landscape.

Present Federal and state tax policies largely discourage preservation of Civil War battlefields. Although Federal tax incentives encourage preservation of valuable rural lands, the current rules render these incentives meaningless for many property owners. Several modest changes to tax rules would remove these disincentives and be of immense benefit to private property owners to protect open land by maintaining agriculture and other compatible uses.

Specifically, the following changes to the United States Tax Code should be considered:

If necessary these proposals probably could be limited to property within 50 miles of U.S. Bureau of the Census Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) or from a national or state battlefield park to ensure application to the principal areas of pressure for land use change. It is difficult to estimate the revenue impact of these suggestions, but the Commission's consultations suggest they each would be less, probably considerably less, than $5 million per year.

Beyond these tax proposals, which generally have to do with gifts or estates, owners wanting to be economically competitive with their historic land need the assistance of tools like the transfer of development rights (TDRs). Communities with important battlefields to preserve as part of a community effort also can offer some form of exemption from property taxes for owners placing land under permanent conservation or historic easements. Perhaps, in return, private owners would be required to give a public or private battlefield protection agency first refusal if they or their estate wish to sell the land. Battlefield protection groups and state Civil War sites commissions should seek legislative authority for these kinds of mechanisms that help level the playing field for owners actively participating in protecting battlefields.

Private owners need better opportunities to take more direct responsibility for maintaining the historic features associated with their land. For example, maintaining or restoring battlefield amenities such as keeping historically open fields no longer in cultivation or pasture from being overgrown with trees, protecting viewsheds, preventing earthworks from eroding and artifact collectors from digging, and keeping interpretive signs, footpaths, and gates in good repair are all examples of preservation activities private owners can perform. The Federal and state governments, as well as any other partners, should be able to enter into long-term contracts or agreements with private owners to actively maintain the historic character of battlefield land. Such an agreement might make it economically feasible, for example, for owners to stop from using earthworks at Port Hudson as a landfill.

Existing models, both in this country and abroad, demonstrate how such a program could work. As an example, the Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program, currently protects approximately 35 million acres in a manner that was highly praised to the Commission by private owners. Such a program of contracts with a public agency do not impair an owner's title. Payments are based on a per acre schedule depending on the type of action. This arrangement would be especially useful on historic land in the vicinity of national or state parks. It would extend the area of resource protection without removing land from private ownership and local tax rolls. Also, governments do not incur the capital and operating costs of publicly owned land. The costs of such a program are hard to predict since the kind of site protection plans needed to define where it would be used are only now being done. The Commission believes a pilot project is appropriate for the next decade funded at $2.5 million per year. The National Park Service should be requested to report to Congress after five years of program operation about whether this is an efficient approach to minimizing public expenditures and achieving a conservation result. States are urged to consider implementing this approach as well.

Once battlefield lands are securely in private ownership and their historic features are stabilized or maintained by the owner, there is a need from time to time for public access to see and enjoy the historic site. To achieve access, it is necessary to limit the tort liability exposure of property owners. The Commission saw a vivid example of this need at Camp Allegheny where a major part of a most interesting battlefield is being cared for by a private owner. Most states have recreational use statutes that include historic sites but they have been widely ignored as a tool because of inconsistencies in their language and in their application. The practical degree of exposure of owners to liability claims is not clear. The American Bar Association (ABA) is reviewing these recreational use statutes nationwide at present with the goal of devising a model uniform recreational use statute.

The Commission believes successful private owner participation in battlefield protection includes having effective recreational use statutes in the states. We endorse and encourage the ABA project and recommend a uniform recreational use statute which specifically includes effective tort liability limits surrounding the "...viewing and enjoying of historical and archeological sites...." Upon its completion of such a model statute, we urge the National Park Service ensure its dissemination to state Civil War sites commissions, state legislatures, and other interested individuals and organizations so they may actively work for the adoption of the model statute in their state.

These are some of the possibilities for enhancing the private owner's options for being a good steward of an important public resource; there probably are more. The important thing is to recognize the three basic activities -- staying on the land; caring for the resource; and enabling the public to appreciate the resource. Tools are needed for each, and not every tool will suit every owner. Governments and non-profit organizations, such as land trusts, need to create as many such mechanisms as they can.

Private battlefield management. Several factors indicate that private preservation is a useful concept at this time: There are a great many sites and areas within sites that are not protected; Federal, state, and local governments all have severe budget crises; and in certain regions there is very strong local resistance to Federal or state acquisition of additional Civil War battlefield lands.

Private Civil War land holding and management entities would address all of these considerations by expanding protection, not drawing on public funds (at least not as much), and the organization would be a local land holder rather than an absentee owner. Such battlefield managers could, if necessary, "hire" the National Park Service or other professional agencies to provide needed technical expertise on preparing interpretive programs, exhibits, resources stabilization, and so on.

Although a number of organizations buy and hold battlefield land until it can be placed with a traditional public agency, few actually hold and manage the site -- care for the land, maintain the resource, and make it available to the public. There are several instances of organizations that own and operate a single site: the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Cedar Creek), Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation (Rich Mountain), and The Civil War Roundtable of Kansas City (Byram's Ford). The Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites is the largest such organization and operates several sites.

The Commission believes that it is very important for such private entities to take their place beside government established park protection to permanently preserve many sites. In particular, it seems clear that very many Class C and D sites will need private preservation organizations to survive. At the same time, the Commission stresses that it is essential that any battlefield management organization maintain an authentic historic site and setting. Aside from the latter being appropriate to the purpose of preserving Civil War battlefields, the heritage tourist, re-enactors, and other visitors and users of battlefields are generally discerning and can distinguish hype from history. Given these caveats, the Commission encourages permanent private preservation of Civil War sites, including organizations that wish to permanently manage multiple sites.

Friends groups. Friends groups are a critical private sector preservation function. Most battlefields, large or small, of all degrees of importance, publicly or privately owned, benefit immensely from a community-based support organization. They may be based on local Civil War Roundtables and other Civil War groups, or they may be organizations formed specifically for the purpose of preserving a site or aiding a public agency to do so. In all cases, Friends groups are virtually the sine qua non of successfully preserving a battlefield. The Commission recommends that private groups or individuals at each of the 384 battlefield locations determine whether such a Friends group already exists, and if not, to form one. Practically all preservation results from such groups articulating a need to government or to private organizations that can help bring preservation about.

Preservation and Local Jurisdictions

In addition to historical values, battlefield preservation is able to protect and make available to a community educational, economic, and environmental benefits. Approximately 90 percent of the battlefields in the Commission's inventory are owned partly or wholly by private parties. Therefore, to ensure these benefits to the public local governments must play an active role in caring for the setting of nearly all historic battlefields through zoning, planning, preservation ordinances, and other local authorities.

Local planning. Because battlefield documentation and maps adequate for contemporary planning and management purposes often do not exist or are not readily available, Civil War battlefield sites often have not received appropriate recognition in state and local planning processes. To perform this role, it is essential that local governments have authoritative information on battlefield locations and historic features so they can act in advance of development threats to sites.

Effective preservation comes from a collaborative preservation planning effort between park authority (public or private), local government, and adjacent property owners. Such planning rarely happens unless there is official documentation of "what and where" for each battlefield as a starting point. Currently only 117 of 384 battlefields are either listed in the National Register or are in established parks, or both. However, due to more extensive recent research, the National Register documentation, in most cases, incompletely describes the locations of listed battlefields.

Communities need ready access to a comprehensive inventory and detailed maps of all significant battlefields. The Commission's inventory documentation will be compiled in suitable formats and be made available to state and local governments over the coming months by the NPS American Battlefield Protection Program; the ABPP also plans to continue to enlarge and refine this inventory data. (The National Park Service should prepare policies for the selective release of these materials on a need to know basis to assure the archeological resources of the battlefields are not damaged by relic collectors.) States should review the adequacy of current National Register listings for battlefields and submit nominations for others, particularly those for which local governments plan to apply for Federal assistance (e.g., ISTEA en- hancement funds) for battlefield protection.

The important preservation question relative to development is not whether the latter occurs, but where it occurs. Local governments can be proactive in planning for areas with important battlefield landscapes. They should attempt to coordinate battlefield conservation with state or local plans for open space, parks, or other recreation areas; often battlefield preservation can be made compatible with these other open space needs. The protection of large historical landscapes today generally should employ multiple techniques. For example, there could be a concentric model with a core of historic parkland in public or private ownership, any adjacent open land under other public ownership (national or state forest, wildlife refuge, recreational park), then historic areas with more selective easements, zoning, historic district or other local controls, and farther out, local controls to protect key viewsheds and battlefield setting, if relevant. Local planning departments with computer mapping technology should create a Civil War sites map theme or layer incorporating battlefields and their associated features.

Lands adjacent to battlefield parks, as well as any other lands in a permanent open status, often are desirable for residential and commercial development. This usually has a deleterious effect on the battlefield's viewshed and setting (and, therefore, its interpretive potential) even when an adequate amount of historic land is being protected. The viewshed of each battlefield should be identified and mapped so that these locations can be taken into account by local zoning or other authorities. By adopting precautions such as density or height limitations and guidelines for unobtrusive building materials and signage, communities can adequately protect the vicinity of their historic battlefield site. If communities work out a preservation and protection plan in advance, developers and property owners will know at the outset what is required of them and the limits on their flexibility. With advance preservation planning, developers can be more confident that their project can go forward with the battlefield taken into account.

There is a growing recognition of the value of such protection plans. The Commission notes particularly the cooperation between Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park, Stones River National Battlefield, Perryville State Battlefield Park, Prairie Grove State Battlefield Park, and the Siege and Battle of Corinth Task Force and their respective local governments. These groups working together with their local governments are defining priorities for protecting the character of historic lands adjacent to existing parkland without excessive public acquisition. This is a very practical approach for communities relying on heritage tourism as part of their economy.

It is important also for local governments to address the economics of preserving a historic landscape and deriving revenue from heritage tourism, versus developing the land for transportation, commercial, or residential purposes. Local governments typically must absorb the costs of constructing and maintaining public facilities. Local governments often depend on development to raise revenue for public service demands. In fact, as studies in progress by the Conservation Fund show, there is much evidence that development does not always pay for itself. Therefore, an important local revenue strategy often is to help private owners to stay on their land. For example, it would be better for taxation of historic battlefields to be based on land use rather than zoning.

While there are important intangible values that justify preservation of significant historic sites, there are tangible ones as well. In a time when public funding is sought for many worthwhile causes, it is important to point out the potential lower costs and higher long-range returns of battlefield preservation. While a viable manufacturing and service economy is necessary to provide the disposable income to make tourism successful, communities are encouraged to look at battlefield preservation as the basis for an important local industry. Land values adjacent to park land often are higher than comparable land elsewhere. Managing growth not only saves important historic landscapes like battlefields, but can save public funds by providing utility, road, and emergency services for clustered developments.

Heritage tourism. Some governments view historic preservation as an unessential frill, but this perception overlooks the economic impact. Tourists today choose vacations with an eye to getting the most for their dollar. When children are along there is a strong tendency to ensure that travel is educational and culturally beneficial. Surveys show that historic site visits are many times preferred by the traveling public to hunting, fishing, and recreation visits combined. Given effective advertising and the existence of authentic historic sites with well-developed interpretive programs, visitors are willing to travel many miles out of their way. Networking historic sites into a thematic heritage trail, itinerary, or corridor further maximizes dollars spent on site preparation. It also encourages the visitor to increase their length of stay in an area because concentrations of attractions are economically efficient from the tourist's perspective.

Preservation brings jobs to communities; not only service sector jobs, but jobs for skilled professionals and craftsmen such as carpenters, masons, painters, artists, historians, parks and recreation specialists, architects, and more. Heritage tourism is not a panacea, but there are a limited number of Civil War battlefields and associated sites and it will often be a rational community choice to preserve heritage sites and minimize development.

States and localities have many tools available to capitalize on heritage tourism by helping private and non-profit owners maintain an authentic historic environment: property tax abatement, historic preservation revolving funds, guaranteed loans, conservation easements, earmarking a portion of so-called amusement, room, and liquor taxes for preservation. Many states have laws protecting various kind of rural land -- farmland, wetland, forests, rivers and streams -- that frequently can be used in coordination with historic battlefield and site preservation. The growing popularity of heritage tourism can make Civil War battlefield preservation an important component of a community's or a region's economic development strategy.

Public and Private Funding

Federal and state financial aid. Federal and state governments need to continue or, if possible, expand funding for land acquisition at already authorized battlefield parks. At the Federal level, this should mean at least maintaining the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Federal acquisition appropriations at the current $5-10 million level per annum at least until the Year 2000 to contribute to achieving protection of the Priority I National Park System battlefields. For Federal and state acquisition to successfully move forward, both should affirm as a matter of policy that they will only acquire land from willing sellers, departing from this policy only under the rarest of circumstances.

Non-profit battlefield protection entities generally agree that Federal and state governments also need to make monetary contributions to legitimize their battlefield protection fund- raising efforts. Often it is necessary only to "prime the pump" of fund-raising campaigns. The Commission recommends that appropriations of $10 million per annum be made available for use on a matching basis. These appropriations, too, should be made at least until Fiscal Year 2000 to contribute to achieving protection of the principally Priority I battlefields. This assistance should be available to local as well as national non- profit battlefield preservation groups.

The Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) is being implemented through state agencies and their advisory committees. It is imperative that state Civil War sites commissions, State Historic Preservation Officers, and local battlefield protection organizations coordinate rather than compete on requests made to the ISTEA program. Given this, it is not unreasonable to expect individual state allocations to battlefield preservation that would aggregate to at least $5 million annually through 1997.

In addition, local governments have a variety of tax policy options to raise funds by earmarking portions of real estate transfer taxes, general tax revenues, bonds, and taxes related to the heritage tourist.

Private sector fund raising. The Commission sees private sector fund-raising occurring at the national, state, and local levels. The Civil War Battlefield Commemorative Coin Act of 1992 is expected to raise revenues of $21 million from coin sales beginning in 1995. These funds will be administered by the Civil War Trust in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior for use on high priority battlefield acquisitions. In addition, the Civil War Trust has established a fund-raising goal of $200 million by the Year 2000 to be raised through nationwide marketing campaigns.

Other private non-profit organizations raise funds site by site through many different approaches ranging from donation of land, to grants and other funds, to limited development strategies in which the sale of a portion of a site finances conservation of the remainder. The Conservation Fund's Civil War Battlefield Campaign in part operates on a revolving fund basis.

Technical Support

The owners and managers of battlefield sites, whether public or private, need a reliable source of technical assistance and support for the many specialized resource documentation, management, and educational functions.

Technical assistance and support services. Preservation organizations often need assistance with site protection plans, general management plans, research and survey of historic features, interpretive program development, and maintenance and protection of earthworks, archeological sites, and structures. The National Park Service initiated technical assistance two years ago through the American Battlefield Protection Program. The Commission recommends that the ABPP continue as an essential permanent activity in support of other public and private organizations who manage Civil War battlefields. In addition, NPS should prepare technical guidelines for battlefield management, documentation, stabilization, and interpretation so that other public and private agencies have a basis for procuring their own site management services. So far, ABPP has awarded financial assistance for activities other than acquisition, conducted on-site consultations, and completed earthworks and other battlefield surveys at Perryville, Port Hudson, and Stones River. Surveying teams are working now on Yorktown, Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. The NPS should also consider making its experienced battlefield superintendents available on a mentoring basis to state and local parks that might lack such expertise.

The Commission recommends that all or most of the intact Class A and Class B sites -- battlefields that were of exceptional military importance -- that are not already designated National Historic Landmarks should be evaluated by the Secretary of the Interior for such designation. Only 16 battlefields currently are National Historic Landmarks. With additional study, some of the Class C or Class D sites also may be found to have National significance because of their concurrent involvement in social, political, or economic aspects of the nation's history.

The Commission will forward its historical research and field inspection records on all battlefields to the appropriate State and Federal Historic Preservation Officers, and to local governments. Further, the Commission will recommend that they initiate the process either for nominating these battlefields to the National Register of Historic Places or for modifying boundaries of existing listings. The Commission urges the National Park Service to cooperate with and assist State Historic Preservation Officers in this task.

Heritage education. While Civil War battlefields and related sites hold an abiding interest for adults, they also are important resources for educating our children. Programs such as the joint National Park Service/National Trust for Historic Preservation's "Teaching with Historic Places" as well as those of schools taking field trips to battlefields, enable understanding to grow about why we fought, how the Union stayed intact, how slavery was abolished, and how the war shaped our national identity and ideals. Ultimately, most battlefields in the Commission's inventory should have lesson plans for use in local schools, and other public information and education tools. This will help build the local preservation consensus and support not just for the present, but for the long-term.

Civil War battlefields have always been part of the larger community. Well-interpreted battlefield parks, such as Wilson's Creek National Battlefield and Prairie Grove State Park, do not restrict their interpretation solely to the battle but present an array of themes such as the impacts of the battle and the War on the community's social, economic, and political affairs. A byproduct of broad-based interpretive programs is that they also establish a relationship and even a kind of "ownership" between the site and the community. A more literal manifestation of this is the children's "penny brigade" that assists interpretive pro- grams at Wilson's Creek. And, of course, Civil War battlefields also are used by the military services today as training grounds in leadership and tactics.

As discussed earlier, local Civil War parks can stimulate tourism as well as provide educational opportunities and recreational open space. We have been impressed by the heritage corridor potential of Grant's Vicksburg campaign and also by Hood's Middle Tennessee Campaign sites at Nashville, Franklin, Spring Hill, and Columbia. In this latter case, even though several of the individual battlefields have lost a great deal of historical integrity, we find the interpretive potential that remains in this aggregate of historically-linked sites still to be worth the preservation effort even including certain, now fragmentary, battlefields.

The Federal and state governments should take the lead in preparing heritage itineraries for major campaigns such as Atlanta, Sherman's March to the Sea, Gettysburg, Prices' Missouri Expedition, the Red River Campaign, and others.



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Creation Date: 3/14/95
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Last Update 2/15/96 by TGossett