Secretary Jewell Calls for Reauthorization, Full-Funding for Landmark Law that Preserves Historic Landscapes, Civil War Battlefields

Recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the End of the Civil War, Secretary Visits Site of Robert E. Lee's Surrender to Highlight Importance of Land and Water Conservation Fund

Last edited 09/29/2021

APPOMATTOX, VA – Marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox Court House that effectively ended the Civil War, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell called on Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as she joined community partners and local conservation leaders to highlight the benefits of LWCF to protect and preserve America's historic landscapes.

Today's visit is the second of a two-day series of events to celebrate the success of the LWCF during its 50-year anniversary and underscore the importance of LWCF as one of the nation's most effective tools for preserving treasured landscapes; expanding historic, and cultural and outdoor recreation sites; and protecting rivers, lakes and other water resources.

“Our Civil War and other battlefields are hallowed places where we honor the fallen and come to better understand the forces and events that shaped the course of our nation,” Secretary Jewell said. “In partnership with states, non-profit organizations like the Civil War Trust, and other stakeholders, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has made it possible to permanently protect and interpret these places for generations of American people. I ask Congress for their support for full-funding and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve our history while boosting tourism that has an important economic impact on communities across Virginia and around the country.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. Over the course of the Fund's existence, it has reinvested a small portion of revenues from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf in over 40,000 local conservation and outdoor recreation projects that protect our nation's land, water and wildlife heritage. Congress later expanded the use of the Fund to include the acquisition of Civil War battlefields and, more recently, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields.

Only once in the past 50 years has Congress appropriated Land and Water Conservation Fund funding at the full authorized level of $900 million. The program is set to expire this year without action from Congress. President Obama has proposed to fully and permanently fund the program.

During her visit to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Secretary Jewell and others visited the site of some of the final battles of the Civil War in Virginia. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was used to expand Appomattox Court House National Historical Park by 383 acres in the 1970s. More recently, the Fund has been leveraged to enable the National Park Service to work in partnership with the Civil War Trust to preserve six additional properties associated with the battles of Appomattox Station and Appomattox Court House, totaling 108 acres at a value of nearly $2.6 million. Those sites help protect the viewshed around the historic village where the McLean House — the site of surrender — stands at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.

“As the sun sets on the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, I am proud of the strong partnership we have forged with the Department of the Interior and Virginia to preserve battlefield land and leave a lasting legacy for future generations,” said Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer. “Of the nearly 41,000 acres the Trust has saved in its 27-year history, funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been essential in saving more than half of that land, or about 24,000 acres.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been essential to preserving many of Virginia's Civil War sites,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “By preserving battlefields and historic properties, we're also protecting open space and recreational opportunities — resources that will help to build a new Virginia economy.”

Other battlefields where the Fund has been used to acquire land include Antietam in Maryland, Fredericksburg in Virginia, Chattanooga in Tennessee, Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.

Jewell also emphasized that Land and Water Conservation Fund grants boost local economies and support jobs in the outdoor recreation and tourism industries. A recent analysis of the Land and Water Conservation Fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on investment for communities.

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