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Virginia No. 1 among states in spending to avert destruction of threatened Civil War sites, preservationists say
|PDF: Click here to see Virginia preserved battlefields map|
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
Virginia is leading the nation's efforts to save Civil War battlefields, Gov. Tim Kaine made plain during a visit in Spotsylvania County yesterday.
Speaking at Slaughter Pen Farm--epicenter of the Fredericksburg battlefield--Kaine praised the public-private work that is protecting some of these unique historic resources.
In terms of sheer dollars, Virginia leads the United States in its battlefield preservation efforts, according to the national, nonprofit Civil War Preservation Trust. The state has committed $9.3 million to the work since 2001--with $5.9 million
Virginia's financial commitment to the cause far outstrips that of other states, they said. Next on the list are Tennessee, at $3.8 million, and Mississippi, at $2.8 million, since 2001.
"We have an obligation as Americans to preserve these places, to tell those stories, so we don't lose them forever," Kaine told the 90-plus people attending yesterday's press conference. "The blood of patriots sanctified these battlefields, and we need to respect and commemorate their sacrifices."
The governor's sentiments were shared by four other speakers--Kathleen Kilpatrick, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources; Howell, R-Stafford; Houck, D-Spotsylvania; and James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust.
Nationally, what Virginia is doing is "without precedent," Lighthizer said, calling Kaine, Howell, Houck and Kilpatrick--along with state Natural Resources Secretary Preston Bryant--"modern Civil War heroes."
"In order to achieve the extraordinary success battlefield preservation has enjoyed in Virginia, it takes leadership at every level," he said. "We have been blessed to find staunch allies at every necessary turn."
CWPT's chief lauded the Virginia Historic Battlefields Preservation Fund, created in 2006. The fund, which leverages private donations and grants 2-to-1, will eventually save more than 1,500 acres on 15 battlefields across Virginia.
Last November, Virginia appropriated $5.2 million to the program--the most generous contribution to battlefield preservation ever made by a state government.