The Department of Historic Resources was accepting applications through Aug. 6 from organizations that aim to protect battlefield lands with the support of grants from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund, which is administered by the department.
The grants can be applied to protecting acreage affiliated with battles during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War by either fee simple land purchases or protective easement purchases. Organizations that qualify are urged to apply for the grants, and the deadline for applications is August 6. (See the end of this announcement for application and a grants manual.)
The grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and DHR typically receives applications for more grants than funding allows. The awards are determined through an evaluation process that examines each battlefield’s significance as determined by both the Congressionally-commissioned “Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields,” as amended, and the “Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States,” as amended. Other factors considered by DHR include the proximity of each parcel to other protected lands; the threat of loss due to encroaching development, and the potential for education, recreation, research, or heritage tourism.
The receipt of a state battlefield grant to support the purchase of targeted acreage requires that an easement on the land be donated to DHR’s Virginia Board of Historic Resources. The easement, which restricts or forbids development of the land by a property owner, protects the battlefield lands in perpetuity.
For more information, applicants should contact DHR’s David Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (540) 868-7030.
Last year, nearly $1 million in grants from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund were distributed to four non-profits whose mission is to preserve battlefields. The dispersed funds were applied to protecting acreage associated with the battles of Appomattox Court House (Appomattox Co.), Cold Harbor (Hanover Co.), Fisher’s Hill (Shenandoah Co.), Gaines Mill (Hanover Co.), New Market (Shenandoah Co.), Second Deep Bottom (Henrico Co.), and Second Manassas (Prince William Co.).
In 2010, the General Assembly established a permanent Civil War Site Preservation Fund to assist in the preservation of battlefield lands increasingly prone to development. The fund was expanded—and renamed the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund—by the General Assembly in 2015 to include battlefields also associated with the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Civil War heritage tourism plays a large role in Virginia’s economy. A 2015 economic impact study requested by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission showed that the 150th anniversary of the Civil War brought more than 3.7 million people and $290 million to Virginia, where roughly a third of all the war’s major battles were fought.
In addition to supporting heritage tourism, the preservation of battlefield lands also serves many conservation and recreational goals. Preserved battlefield acreage protects wetlands, timberlands, wildlife habitats, and farm lands still in use. Many of the open-space sites offer places for recreation near to growing urban areas.
Updated October 2, 2018