- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

President Bush’s 2005 budget request to Congress would more than double the amount of money set aside to protect Civil War battlefields from being turned over to developers.

Congress has been asked to authorize $5 million in federal matching grants under the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, a $3 million increase over 2004 and the largest amount of money awarded to the program in a single year.

The money would come out of the federal government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund. It would be used by nonprofits such as the Civil War Preservation Trust to buy land that is not part of the National Park Service and might be purchased by developers looking to build homes, offices or retail outlets.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the strong support from the administration, especially in a tight budget year,” said Jim Campi, communications and policy director for the Civil War Preservation Trust. “It’s a substantial amount of money for us, and we’re sort of anxious and eager to spend it.”

At the top of the trust’s list, Mr. Campi said, is the effort to prevent development on the Mullins Farm in Spotsylvania County, which sits partially on the site of the three-day Battle of Chancellorsville that occurred in May 1863. Civil War historians have fought to preserve the land, the site of the stunning upset by Confederate troops and the final battle for Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

John Mullins, the owner of the 790-acre tract, has said he wants to sell the land and has entertained offers from developers. The trust said it would like to reach an agreement with Mr. Mullins that would allow him to make a fair profit from the sale of the land while preserving the battlefield portions.

Heavy protests last year by battlefield preservationists and slow-growth advocates helped squash plans by Reston-based Dogwood Development to build a mixed-use site on portions of the Chancellorsville battlefield.

The trust is trying to raise $587,000 to buy land on several other battlefield sites in Virginia, including 210 acres at Hatcher’s Run, 83 acres at Reams Station and 8.4 acres believed to be the site of key fighting during a battle at Trevlian Station.

Other funding needs by the trust include as much as $683,000 for 313 acres of land in Bentonville, N.C., $120,000 for 45 acres at Gettysburg, Pa., and $40,000 for 6.8 acres of key battlefield land at Bristoe Station, Va.

Although none of the above sites is facing immediate threat, preservationists believe they are vulnerable because the surrounding areas have become increasingly developed.

Over the past six years, Congress has set aside $21 million in matching grants for Civil War site preservation. It approved $8 million to be used between 1999 and 2001 and $11 million to be used between 2002 and 2004, then authorized an additional $2 million for 2004, after the previous money had been spent. Since 2002, Congress has been authorized to set aside as much as $10 million in funding each year.

If Congress approves the 2005 funding, some of the money also could be used by the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation and by local governments to preserve and restore open space.

The trust will announce its annual list of “America’s Most Endangered Battlefields” on Feb. 24. Last year’s list included the Chancellorsville, Manassas and Petersburg battlefields in Virginia, plus battlefields in North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky and New Mexico.

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