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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, the battlefields on American soil contain our national history and commemorate the events that made our nation what it is today. Too many of these sites are open to urban development that could 1eave no trace of the sacrifices made there.

That is why I am pleased to introduce the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act, which reauthorizes Federal competitive matching grants to protect these historic lands. I was proud to have supported this program at the State level when I was Governor of Virginia, and I am proud to be joined on this bipartisan legislation by my colleague, Senator THAD COCHRAN from Mississippi. Our States hosted key battles of the Civil War, and we have led the Nation in preserving the land on which these defining battles were fought.

This bill extends the authorization for the American Battlefield Protection Program for 5 years at the current funding level and adds sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 to the program's eligibility. These grants have a 1/1 federal/non-federal match, which is often exceeded on the non-federal side by private contributions from people interested in American history.

This program is strictly voluntary. The bill specifies that land will be acquired only from willing sellers and only at fair market value. It also authorizes funding solely for land acquisition and does not incur development or maintenance costs for the National Park Service.

It would be worth protecting these battlefields for the historic value alone, but these activities also have economic value. Battlefield tourists do not simply pass through a region. They pay for guided tours. They stay in hotels and bed and breakfasts. They dine at local restaurants. They browse the shops on town streets. According to a study by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Civil War tourists in Virginia stay twice as long and spend double the money of the average tourist. Of out-of-town visitors interviewed at 20 battlefields, two-thirds were visiting the area specifically to see the battlefield, and three-quarters said they would visit other Civil War sites while in the area.

Virginia is a state where history is all around us, and to understand this history is to understand ourselves as Americans. This effort brings together federal, state, and private sector supporters to ensure that future generations will be able to visit these sites and appreciate the historic deeds that transpired on this hallowed ground.

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