Cindy Hyde-Smith co-sponsors bill to protect America’s historic battlefields

Published 3:31 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in introducing bipartisan legislation to improve the protection of America’s historic battlefields.

The American Battlefield Protection Program Enhancement Act would update the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), a successful National Park Service (NPS) program that promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields and sites of armed conflict across the United States.

ABPP has helped preserve more than 35,000 acres of historic land in 20 states, including Mississippi and Virginia.

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“Our bipartisan changes to this critical program would create a quicker and easier process for preserving our national battlefields, sites that hold so many stories of our history,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks.  “Enhancing the American Battlefield Protection Program would improve opportunities for history-rich states like Mississippi to save these sites.”

“From Yorktown to Appomattox, the map of Virginia is a map of America’s military history,” said Kaine.  “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the American Battlefield Protection Program and help ensure these lands are preserved, so future generations can visit and learn about their importance.”

“I applaud Senators Kaine and Hyde-Smith for their longstanding support for the American Battlefield Protection Program.  ABPP is one of the best examples of the private sector working with the federal government to preserve American history.  The program encourages nonprofit and state investment in saving hallowed ground, leveraging federal dollars more than 3-to-1,” said David Duncan, President of the American Battlefield Trust.

The Kaine/Hyde-Smith legislation would:

  • Permit nonprofits and tribes to apply directly for ABPP grants.  Currently, only state and local governments are eligible to apply for ABPP funding.
  • Ensure Battlefield Restoration Grant funding is available for all battlefields.  ABPP administers four grant programs:  Preservation Planning, Battlefield Land Acquisition, Battlefield Restoration, and Battlefield Interpretation.  Current law only allows land preserved by a Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant to be eligible for a Restoration Grant, which provides funds to return Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War landscapes back to day-of battle conditions in order to enhance the visitor experience.  This provision would remove this requirement and allow properties that were not acquired by a Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant to be eligible for Restoration Grant funding.  This would mean the Vicksburg National Military Park, Corinth Battlefield Unit, and other state- and nonprofit-owned battlefield parks in Mississippi could be eligible for Restoration Grant funding.
  • Clarify eligibility of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites for Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants (BLAG).  Current law allows battlefields and sites associated with the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 to be eligible for ABPP funding.  This change would clarify that only battlefields are eligible.
  • Create a process for expanding and updating historic battlefield boundaries.  Currently, only lands identified in NPS maps are eligible for ABPP Battlefield Land Acquisition funding, and any updates to these maps must be approved by Congress.  This means that if there is new archaeology or research that shows the historic extent of a battlefield is different from original NPS maps, the land cannot be preserved under ABPP.  The bill creates a better process for expanding and updating the historic boundaries of battlefields to make it easier for certain sites to receive ABPP funding.

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) also cosponsored the legislation.