Subcommittee Reviews Bid to Extend a Program Used to Preserve Battlefield Sites in Mississippi

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today registered her support for continuation of a battlefield preservation program that has benefited efforts to save historic sites in Mississippi.

The Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, on which Hyde-Smith serves, conducted a hearing to receive testimony on the Preserving American’s Battlefields Act of 2019 (S.225) and nine other bills.  Hyde-Smith is a cosponsor of this bill, which would reauthorize the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Program through FY2028.

“We have numerous historical battlefields and culturally-significant sites in Mississippi.  By saving them, our state and local communities can benefit through public interest and tourism associated with them,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I look forward to this legislation becoming law so we can continue to invest funds into these important sites.”

In his testimony, National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith said the administration supports the measure with assurances that restoration meets certain historic preservation standards.

“The Department [of the Interior] recognizes the need to proactively preserve and protect nationally significant battlefields of the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War.  The National Park Service successfully achieves these goals through the American Battlefield Protection Program, which S. 225 would expand,” Smith said.

Reauthorization of the program would allow the National Park Service to continue providing matching funds to preserve significant battlefields. The bill also authorizes funding for the restoration and interpretation of high-priority battlefield sites to help transform them into genuine historic tourism destinations.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), has been endorsed by the American Battlefield Trust.  The grant program has helped save numerous sites in Mississippi including Vicksburg, Champion Hill, Brice’s Cross Roads, Corinth, Port Gibson, Big Black River Ridge, and other sites.

S.225 is now available for consideration by the full Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The National Park Service last week awarded a $109,806 grant to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the American Battlefield Trust to acquire 58 acres of the Champion Hill Battlefield threatened by urban and suburban development.