A U.S. senator from Virgina wants to more than triple the size of Petersburg National Battlefield by adding 7,200 acres to it, a move that would make Petersburg the largest military park in the country.
If Sen. Jim Webb's proposal advances to passage, it would cost roughly $30 million over a 15-20-year-period to make the acquisitions, and then something less than $500,00 annually to pay for trails, exhibits, surveys and studies throughout the acquisition process, and finally about $500,000 a year for operations and maintenance, according to a Congressional Budget Office projection.
Sen. Webb, a Democrat, introduced the legislation earlier this week. Called the “Petersburg National Boundary Modification Act,” the measure calls for the National Park Service to acquire 12 battlefields, totaling 7,200 acres, surrounding Petersburg National Battlefield. This expansion of the park was recommended in the National Park Service’s Final General Management Plan in 2005, the senator pointed out.
“Petersburg saw nearly one quarter of the Civil War fought in its surrounding area, and the preservation of these battlefields is important for future generations to understand and appreciate the significance of our nation’s history,” Sen. Webb said in a release from his office. “Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and this legislation serves as an appropriate and timely means to commemorate this significant historical event.
“Additionally, investing in historic landmarks benefits the Commonwealth’s tourism sector,” he added. “154,000 visitors come to Petersburg National Battlefield each year, generating more than $9 million in local revenue. For this reason, the legislation is important to our continuing efforts to spur tourism and new jobs in Petersburg and the surrounding communities.”
Since entering the Senate in 2007, Sen. Webb has been a strong voice for historical and natural preservation. In 2009, he championed the “Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act,” which renewed The America Battlefield Protection Program and continued the successful federal partnership that has saved nearly 7,000 acres at 17 battlefields sites in Virginia. The senator also cosponsored the successful “Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act” to preserve a 175-mile area encompassing eight presidential homes or sites, 15 National Historic Landmarks, 47 historic districts and the largest collection of Revolutionary War sites and Civil War battlefields in America.
Additionally, in October, Sen. Webb introduced legislation to establish a Commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.