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Kaine & Hyde-Smith Introduce Bill to Protect Historic American Battlefields

Legislation would strengthen successful American Battlefield Protection Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) introduced the American Battlefield Protection Program Enhancement Act, bipartisan legislation that would protect America’s historic battlefields. Specifically, the bill would make updates to strengthen the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), a program within the National Park Service (NPS) which promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields and sites of armed conflict across the United States. The program has preserved more than 35,000 acres of historic land in 20 states, including Virginia and Mississippi.

“From Yorktown to Appomattox, the map of Virginia is a map of America’s military history,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the American Battlefield Protection Program and help ensure these lands are preserved, so future generations can visit and learn about their importance.”

“Our bipartisan changes to this critical program would create a quicker and easier process for preserving our national battlefields, sites that hold so many stories of our history,” said Hyde-Smith.  “Enhancing the American Battlefield Protection Program would improve opportunities for history-rich states like Mississippi to save these sites.”

“I applaud Senators Kaine and Hyde-Smith for their longstanding support for the American Battlefield Protection Program. ABPP is one of the best examples of the private sector working with the federal government to preserve American history. The program encourages nonprofit and state investment in saving hallowed ground, leveraging federal dollars more than 3-to-1,” said David Duncan, President of the American Battlefield Trust.

The American Battlefield Protection Program Enhancement Act would:

  • Permit non-profits and tribes to directly apply for ABPP grants. Currently, only state and local governments are eligible to apply for ABPP funding.  
  • Ensure Battlefield Restoration Grant funding is available for all battlefields. ABPP administers four grant programs: Preservation Planning, Battlefield Land Acquisition, Battlefield Restoration, and Battlefield Interpretation. Current law only allows land preserved by a Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant to be eligible for a Restoration Grant, which provides funds to return Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War landscapes back to day-of battle conditions, enhancing the visitor experience. This provision would remove this requirement and allow properties that were not acquired by a Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant to be eligible for Restoration Grant funding. This would mean Ball’s Bluff in Leesburg, Sailor’s Creek in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties, Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley, and several other state- and nonprofit-owned battlefield parks in Virginia are eligible for Restoration Grant funding.
  • Clarify eligibility of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites for Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants (BLAG). Current law allows battlefields and sites associated with the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 to be eligible for ABPP funding. This change would clarify that only battlefields are eligible.
  • Create a process for expanding and updating historic battlefield boundaries. Currently, only lands identified in NPS maps are eligible for ABPP Battlefield Land Acquisition funding, and any updates to these maps must be approved by Congress. This means that if there is new archaeology or research that shows the historic extent of a battlefield is different from NPS’s original maps, the land cannot be preserved under ABPP. For example, the Green Springs Battlefield in James City County is larger than it was originally thought to be. By creating a better process for expanding and updating the historic boundaries of battlefields, it’ll be easier for certain sites to receive ABPP funding.

The legislation was cosponsored by Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Full text of the bill is available here.