Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Officials Launching Work On New Management Plan

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park officials are starting work on a new General Management Plan for the 7,000-acre Civil War park. Kurt Repanshek photo.

How many times have you visited a national park and wondered why they do the things they do in terms of managing the property? Well, now's your chance to let the National Park Service know how you'd like to see Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park managed for the next two decades or so. The timing is particularly important in light of the land preservation battle going on just beyond the park's boundaries and with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War to kick off in just two years.

General Management Plans for units of the National Park System aren't crafted overnight. They can take years to produce, require public comment all through the process, and are expected to stand in place for a couple of decades. The last time Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania officials developed a GMP, in 1986, the president of the United States was Ronald Reagan.

With that in mind, officials for the national military park are launching a series of public meetings to inform the general public of the process. The first of these is scheduled for Wednesday evening, July 29, at Riverbend High School in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. A second public meeting is set for Thursday, July 30, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the headquarters branch of the Central Rappahannock Central Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A third is set for September 9 at the Lake of the Woods Clubhouse in Lake of the Woods, Virginia, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"We want to hear your ideas for preserving tremendously significant historic objects and landscapes and for providing the type of high quality visitor facilities and experiences that both educate and stimulate. We will need your help in identifying issues, formulating solutions, and peering 20 years into the future," said Superintendent Russ Smith.

The 7,000-acre military park preserves and interprets four major Civil War battles: Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania Courthouse battlefields. Located midway between Washington D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, along the Rappahannock River, the Fredericksburg area became the most fought over ground of the Civil War, resulting in more than 100,000 casualties and devastation to the local communities.

During the upcoming public meetings, officials want to know what aspect of the military park is most important to you, what opportunities you would like to see in the park in the years ahead, and how officials can better protect viewsheds and historic lands associated with the battlefields. Topics open for consideration range from how interpretation is conducted to what recreational uses of the park are to be allowed.

Additionally, park officials are interested in hearing from groups or individuals that would be interested in working with the Park Service to preserve and interpret the battlefields.

Under the park's timetable, between this fall and next spring planners will work on developing a variety of management alternatives to be considered for inclusion in the revised GMP. Between the spring of 2010 and spring of 2011 park planners will develop a draft GMP based on the public's suggestions and desires. During the summer of 2011 this draft document will be further refined, with a final version developed and implemented beginning in 2012.

Comments

Hi, Although we live in Green Bay, Wi, we are often in the Fredericksburg area as our daughter and family live there....actually in Spotsylvania county. Are there any immediate plans for the Slaughter Pen Farm area which we pass every time we venture into downtown. We donated to the purchase of that land and wonder what the plans are for the future. We will not be out east for any of your meetings, but are interested in the area and preservation in general. Thanks, John and Sally Straub

They just finished installing about a dozen interpretive markers at Slaughter Pen. They are working on a 1 3/4 mile long trail that will take you across the property. Civil War Trails will be promoting the walking trail on their web site. Here's a clip from a Fredericksburg.com article:

Four markers in front of Slaughter Pen's farmhouse will orient arriving visitors. Yet to come there is a 6-foot-tall, four-sided kiosk that will list major donors to the $12 million campaign to preserve the battlefield, now about halfway to its goal. The Civil War Preservation Trust bought the 205-acre farm, its most expensive single effort to date, in 2005 with help from local partners and a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

If you want to hike the trail now, you have to pre-register with the Civil War Preservation Trust at 800-298-7878 for safety reasons. Eventually you'll be able to just walk onto the property.

I also donated to save this property and it looks like it will be a real gem once they have completed everything.

Hope this answers your questions. See you on the battlefield!