American Battlefield Trust Marks 22 Years Saving at Least 1,000 Acres, Sets Outreach Records
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Despite 2020’s inherent challenges, passionate members propelled the nonprofit to continued success
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231
January 19, 2021
(Washington, D.C.) – Despite a year that will go down in history for its unprecedented challenges, the American Battlefield Trust further cemented its status as the nation’s premier battlefield preservation and education organization in 2020, recording its 22nd consecutive year saving more than 1,000 acres of hallowed ground. Meanwhile, the organization set records for digital engagement, deepened strategic partnerships with likeminded organizations and extended support for battlefield preservation among elected officials and the general public.
Trust President David Duncan stands with friend, mentor, and Trust President Emeritus James Lighthizer.
“Despite the extraordinary challenges faced in 2020, the American Battlefield Trust remained unwavering in our commitment to mission,” said Trust President David Duncan. “We triumphed at renowned places like Antietam and Shiloh but also at overlooked gems of battlefields, such as Bennington, N.Y., and Williamsburg, Va. — all while connecting with students and history enthusiasts at record-breaking levels.” Beyond the near-universal difficulties experienced by all nonprofits operating during the pandemic, the Trust also underwent a change in leadership. Duncan, the longtime the chief development officer, was unanimously selected by the Board of Trustees to assume the top role in October, following the retirement of James Lighthizer, who led the organization more than 20 years.
Working closely with landowners and preservation partners, the Trust closed 28 transactions at 22 battlefields in 10 states, amounting to 1,126.8 acres. This included projects at: Antietam, Md.; Bennington, N.Y.; Bentonville, N.C.; Brice’s Cross Roads, Miss.; Gettysburg, PA; Cedar Creek, Va.; Cedar Mountain, Va.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cold Harbor, Va.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Jackson, Tenn.; New Market Heights, Va.; Parker’s Cross Roads, Tenn.; Perryville, Ky.; Port Royal Island, S.C.; Reams Station, Va.; Shepherdstown, W.V.; Shiloh, Tenn.; Stones River, Tenn.; Trevilian Station, Va.; White Oak Road, Va.; and Williamsburg, Va. Amidst this year’s preservation victories, numerous other transactions edged closer toward completion, setting the stage for a productive 2021.
Brown's Tavern, dating to 1803, has connections to the Trail of Tears and to the 1863 Battle of Brown's Ferry.
Especially noteworthy was the acquisition of 48 acres at Stones River, Tenn., which included a 42-acre tract once lost to industrial use. The Trust approached the owner of the site, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and after presenting the site’s incredible historic and preservation significance, landed on a purchase price of $4 million — a hefty but fair sum for industrial land in a highly developed area. Elsewhere in the Volunteer State, the Trust secured the permanent protection of Brown’s Tavern at Chattanooga, an important site with connections to Native American history and the Civil War. In both instances, matching grants provided by the American Battlefield Protection Program and Tennessee Civil War Sites Preservation Fund played a key role in the victory.
The ongoing success of the battlefield preservation movement stems from bipartisan support for the issue among elected officials and decisionmakers. Enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act in August permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which feeds the federal matching grant program most frequently used by the Trust and its partners to protect battlefield land, and allocated $9 billion to address the deferred maintenance backlog for federal lands. During the 2020 legislative session, the Kentucky Battlefield Preservation Fund became the third statewide matching grant program to specifically pursue hallowed ground, and in the fall the Bluegrass State celebrated the Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument’s official incorporation as the 421st unit of the National Park System.
The Trust’s 2020 preservation accomplishments were made possible by the assistance of numerous partners, including: the American Battlefield Protection Program; National Park Service; Beaufort County, S.C.; Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield Commission; Commonwealth of Kentucky; Commonwealth of Virginia; Friends of Perryville Battlefield; Friends of Shiloh; Friends of Stones River National Battlefield; HTR Foundation; Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board; Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort; National Park Partners; Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Association; Save Historic Antietam Foundation; South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust; South Carolina Conservation Bank; State of New York; State of North Carolina; Tennessee Civil War Sites Preservation Fund; Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation; U.S. Department of Agriculture; Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund; Virginia Land Conservation Foundation; Williamsburg Battlefield Association.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 53,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.
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