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DHR Hosts Virtual Battlefield Grant Program Workshop

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The author provides a recap of the workshop and the latest updates on the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund.

By Wendy Musumeci

The Hunter Tract on the Appomattox Court House Battlefield in Appomattox County.
The Hunter Tract on the Appomattox Court House Battlefield in Appomattox County. The property is owned by the American Battlefield Trust. Photo: Gray O'Dwyer/DHR, August 2017.

On May 2, 2023, Easement Program Staff at the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) hosted a one-hour virtual workshop on the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund (VBPF) grant program. This is the first time DHR has held a public information session about the VBPF. More than 20 people representing various land trusts, state agencies, localities, and conservation organizations attended the workshop. It was an exciting opportunity to reconnect with our battlefield preservation partners!

 

Since 2006, the Virginia General Assembly has apportioned funding specifically for the preservation of historic Virginia battlefields. Funding was initially allocated on an annual basis through the Appropriations Act. However, in 2010, the General Assembly officially established the fund in Virginia Code (Section 10.1-2202.4), naming it the Civil War Sites Preservation Fund. The scope of the program was expanded in 2015 to include Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields, and the fund was renamed the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund.

 

The VBPF awards competitive grants to nonprofit organizations for the fee-simple acquisition of, or acquisition of an historic preservation and open-space easement on, Virginia battlefield properties. Qualified properties include the battlefields of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. The VBPF is administered by DHR, which creates the guidelines for applications, evaluations, and the disbursement of grant awards. During the workshop on May 2, staff discussed the parameters of the program and described eligible applicants, project types, properties, and costs. We reviewed program requirements, scoring criteria, and the newly revised grant application form. We ended with tips for how to draft a successful application.

 

The next grant round officially opens on June 1, 2023, with applications due no later than the close of business day on August 1, 2023. In commemoration of the upcoming 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution, DHR will prioritize VBPF projects that include the acquisition and protection of Revolutionary War battlefields. This is in support of the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission, which was established by the General Assembly in 2020 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.

 

Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund grant program calendar

 

DHR has awarded more than 130 VBPF grants since 2006, with the awards ranging from $16,000 to $800,000. Just over $20 million in total grant funds have been allocated, perpetually protecting more than 10,000 acres of Virginia battlefield land. Many of these properties are open to the public daily and feature trails and interpretative signs.

 

For more information or to find out if a property is eligible, contact Wendy Musumeci, Easement Program Coordinator and VBPF Grant Program Administrator, at Wendy.Musumeci@dhr.virginia.gov. A recorded copy of the workshop is also available here.

 

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