Legislation introduced to the U.S. Senate aims to add 7,200 acres to Petersburg National Battlefield, a bid that, if approved, would make Petersburg the largest military park in the country while protecting a dozen Civil War-era battlefields.
The legislation, the Petersburg National Boundary Modification Act, was sponsored by Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner,
A longtime advocate for Civil War battlefield preservation, Senator Jim Webb, in partnership with Senator Mark Warner, both Democrats from Virginia, sponsored the legislation.
“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,” Senator Webb said in a release. “Investing in significant historic landmarks like Petersburg National Battlefield benefits the Commonwealth’s tourism sector.”
Sen. Warner added that, in light of the coming sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War, "this legislation to protect historic grounds is more timely than ever."
“Heritage tourism is an important component of Virginia’s economy and the expansion of the Petersburg Battlefield will spur new tourism and jobs in the region," the senator added.
Petersburg National Battlefield currently attracts more than 150,000 visitors and generates more than $9 million in local revenue each year, according to the senators. The legislation would give the Park Service authority to acquire 12 battlefields, totaling 7,200 acres, surrounding Petersburg National Battlefield. The expansion would protect historic land currently susceptible to industrial and residential development and positively impact the economy of the Petersburg region, they added.
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.