State announces availability of Battlefield Preservation Grants for 2020
Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources is now accepting applications from organizations that seek to protect battlefield lands with the support of grants from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund, which the agency administers.
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. DHR urges qualified organizations to apply for the grants. The deadline for applications is close of business on August 10.
DHR awards the grants on a competitive basis, and the agency typically receives applications for more grant monies than funding allows. DHR disperses the awards through an evaluation process that examines each battlefield’s significance as determined by two reports Congress commissioned, the “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 DHR considers in evaluating the funding requests 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.
The grant application and a program manual and guide to the grant criteria are available for downloading on the homepage of the DHR website (www.dhr.virginia.gov). For more information, applicants should contact DHR’s David Edwards at [email protected] or at (540) 868-7030.
Last year, DHR disbursed $1 million in grant awards from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund to four non-profits whose mission is to preserve battlefields. Those organizations applied the allocated funds to protect 398 acres associated with the battles of Bristoe Station (Prince William Co.), Cold Harbor (Hanover Co.), Fishers Hill (Shenandoah Co.), New Market Heights (Henrico Co.), Port Republic (Rockingham Co.), and Spotsylvania Court House.
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. In 2015, the GA expanded the fund—renamed the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund—to cover 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.