Chancellorsville Battlefield Celebrates 20 Years of Preservation Success
Critical land acquisition was made possible by now-threatened Land and Water Conservation Fund
The National Trust for Historic Preservation joins the Civil War Trust and the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust in celebrating twenty years of preservation success at Chancellorsville Battlefield in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The key role of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)--a federal program set to expire in September, 2018--in preserving the site’s integrity will be highlighted at an event at the battlefield on March 2.
“Chancellorsville Battlefield, located within a populous, economically thriving county, is a remarkable preservation success story,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., vice president, Government Relations and Policy for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Because of the permanent protection provided by the LWCF, Chancellorsville remains an evocative, somber landscape where we can reflect upon the staggering human cost of the Civil War and experience first-hand an area steeped in Native American, colonial, and military history.”
Road building, highway expansion, and encroaching development prompted the National Trust to name the battlefield one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1998. In the ensuing decades, more than 400 acres of battlefield at Chancellorsville were added to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and hundreds of additional acres were permanently protected by the Civil War Trust and Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. These acquisitions, vital to conveying the stories of pivotal Civil War battlefields and maintaining their rural, wooded surroundings, were primarily funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“Saving the sacred ground where the multi-day Battle of Chancellorsville began is one of the great preservation triumphs of recent years, achieved against great odds because people care about American history,” said Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer. “Protecting what we now know as the First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield, which flanks Lick Run, required many partners and tremendous effort. But it would not have happened without support from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. The same is true for key portions of the State Route 3 corridor’s ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Flank Attack route, and the Civil War Trust’s 355-acre ‘land bridge’ to our west that connects the Chancellorsville and Wilderness battlefields.”
“These battlefields hold the stories to one of our nation’s harshest conflicts,” said Thomas Van Winkle, president of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. “What we as a country experienced, as well as the blood of those who sacrificed their lives, is embedded in the dirt and grass of these fields. We dare not allow their memories or this important ground to be lost to history. Our past does not always reflect this nation’s finest moments but we must retain its remembrance, study it, and learn from it.”
At a celebratory event on March 2 at the battlefield, historians and representatives from the National Trust, the Civil War Trust, and the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust invite the public to learn more about the partnerships and tools—such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund—that combined to preserve Chancellorsville Battlefield along with many other iconic places in Virginia and across the country.
Friday, March 2, 2018, 11:00am – 12:00pm
First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield
Lick Run Community Center
6159 Plank Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22407
The press are invited to attend. Media please RSVP by Thursday, March 1 at 5 pm EST to email@example.com
BACKGROUND ON CHANCELLORSVILLE BATTLEFIELD
Chancellorsville is one of four Civil War battlefields that comprise the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park near Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Battle of Chancellorsville, fought on the grounds in and around the park, was arguably General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory. It was also the battle where his top commander, Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, was mortally wounded by friendly fire.
BACKGROUND ON THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in 1965. The Act designates that a portion of receipts from offshore oil and gas leases be placed into a fund annually to support federal land acquisitions in parks, forest and wildlife areas, as well as matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of outdoor recreation areas and facilities. LWCF also funds American Battlefield Protection Program acquisition grants, which provide funding to states, local communities, and nonprofit partners to acquire threatened battlefield lands. Many of America’s most significant historic and cultural landscapes have been permanently protected through LWCF, including Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado. In Virginia, LWCF helped to protect significant and critically threatened lands along Jackson’s Flank Attack zone, which follows today’s busy Route 3, as well as critical landscapes like the Slaughter Pen Farm and the First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield, also in Spotsylvania County. In total, more than 5,000 acres have been added to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park over the life of the LWCF program, including more than 1,000 acres since 1998. This key federal program will expire on September 30, 2018 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it.