Reprinted below is a letter to Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield from Senator Mark Warner sharing his support of battlefield preservation and heritage tourism.
Thank you for contacting me regarding battlefield preservation. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. From the beginning of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord to the final engagement in Appomattox, the Commonwealth of Virginia occupies a unique place in our nation’s history. As your Senator, I remain an advocate on behalf of our shared historic sites.
Virginia is home to more Civil War sites than any other state and that is why I have prioritized their preservation throughout my time in the Senate. In March of 2011, I joined Senator Webb in re-introducing the Petersburg National Boundary Modification Act (S. 713) to protect an additional 7,200 acres of historic battlefields surrounding Petersburg National Battlefield. This legislation passed on December 8, 2016 making Petersburg National Battlefield the largest military park in the United States.
Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia is another historic site that has a rich history stretching back to 1609, from the colonists’ first constructed fortifications at the site, to the Civil War when escaped slaves were granted safety and sanctuary at the Union’s “Freedom Fort,” and to the present day. On June 29, 2011, I introduced legislation to designate Fort Monroe as a unit of the National Park Service. On November 1, 2011, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to preserve the Fort by designating it a part of the Park Service, and it is now open to visitors as Fort Monroe National Monument.
Our battlefields offer so much history, education, and recreation that I believe we must take steps to protect these sites for future generations. That’s why I am a proud cosponsor of the Preserving America’s Battlefields Act (S.3505). This legislation reauthorizes the National Park Service’s Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Program through 2028 at $20 million a year – a $10 million increase over the current authorized amount. This matching grants program fosters partnerships between state and local governments with regional entities to encourage public and private investment. Funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), it has preserved more than 30,000 acres of Civil War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812 sites, including hundreds of acres in the Commonwealth. In total, the program has issued over $100 million to preserve more than 100 battlefields from three American wars.
Heritage tourism is an important component of Virginia’s economy. I believe that the preservation of our battlefields will create living memorials which will produce new tourism and jobs in the region. As the 115th Congress moves forward, I will continue to look for ways to ensure preservation of our heritage.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://www.warner.senate.gov.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator