U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the program that helps preserve historic battlegrounds in the United States, including battlefields in Mississippi.
Cochran joined Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to introduce the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act (S.916). The bill reauthorizes the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program (CWBPP) that provides competitive federal grants to match private and non-profit donations. This legislation would for the first time extend the program to significant battle sites associated with the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
"With this year marking the 150th anniversary of so many pivotal Civil War battles, it is an appropriate time to extend our efforts to preserve key battlefield sites. These sites remind us of the enormous sacrifices made by our forebears in the name of freedom, and should be protected in order to help teach future generations of Americans." Cochran said.
"I am pleased to introduce this bill with Senator Cochran," said Kaine. "Historical battlegrounds serve as living reminders of our nation's past. In Virginia, we have more Civil War battlefields than any other state, and I am committed to working with both parties and members of our delegation to ensure this hallowed ground is preserved for local citizens and tourists who visit these sites."
The American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act would extend through 2018 the existing $10 million authorization that is set to expire in September 2013. In addition to Civil War sites, it would add Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sites to program eligibility. Introduction of S.916 follows the passage of a companion measure (HR.1033) in April. The House measure was cosponsored by Representative Bennie Thompson.
More than 17,500 acres of high-priority Civil War battle sites have been preserved since the program was initiated in December 2002. More than 3,300 acres in Mississippi have been preserved. In addition to preserving historic battlefield sites, the CWBPP has helped to enhancement tourism, support local and state economies and increase land conservation.
Earlier this year, Cochran introduced the Champion Hill, Port Gibson and Raymond Battlefield Addition Act (S.305) that would authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire approximately 10,000 acres of property deemed significant to the long-term preservation of historic Civil War battlefield sites in Claiborne and Hinds counties. The bill, which is cosponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), specifies that any purchases must be acquired through voluntary sales, donations or exchanges.
Like S.305, the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources for consideration.