Yesterday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on Senator Jim Webb’s (D-VA) legislation, the Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act (S.2953), to expand and preserve Civil War battlefields in Virginia.
“The conflicts at Petersburg were the most extensive and complex battles of the entire war,” said Senator Webb. “The preservation of these battlefields has personal significance for me, as someone whose ancestors fought on both sides of the war. I will continue my efforts in Congress to ensure such historic landscapes are preserved for future generations.”
High growth in surrounding counties has led to development projects which threaten the Petersburg National Battlefield. Significant portions of nationally significant battlefields related to the Petersburg Campaign have already been lost with development of an industrial park, a steel recycling plant and residential housing. In response, the National Park Service recommended a 7,200-acre boundary expansion to protect significant core battlefield areas. This proposed expansion would make the Petersburg National Battlefield the largest military park in the United States.
Senator Webb’s bill:
• Provides Congressional authority to the National Park Service for a 7,200-acre boundary expansion of Petersburg National Battlefield as recommended by the National Park Service’s 2005 Final General Management Plan.
• Authorizes the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of the Army to move forward with a small exchange of land (approximately 1.17 acres/each) between the Petersburg National Battlefield and the Fort Lee Military Reservation adjacent to the Park to be managed in accordance with all department and agency laws.
• Provides authority to the Secretary of Interior to acquire and receive donations of land from willing sellers as authorized by the new 7,200-acre boundary expansion.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) has introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R. 3388, the Petersburg Boundary Expansion legislation.
Senator Webb has been a leader in the Senate on a number of measures to protect and expand Virginia’s battlefields and national parks, provide federal designations for historic sites, and to maintain current landmarks.
Petersburg National Battlefield Statistics:
Average Annual Visitors – 154,000+
Park Visitor Annual Spending in Local Economy – $9+ million
Local Jobs Sustained By PNB – 170
Current Acres Owned By NPS – 2,659 acres
Proposed Park Expansion Area – 7,238 acres
Acres Already Pre-acquired by Partners In Expansion Area – 2,300 acres