Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Boundary Revision Act of 2021
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL A. CALDWELL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 3307, A BILLTO MODIFY THE BOUNDARY OF THE WILSON’S CREEK NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
MAY 11, 2022
Chairman King, Ranking Member Daines, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 3307, a bill to modify the boundary of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in the State of Missouri, and for other purposes.
The Department opposes S. 3307.
The bill would amend the boundary of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield to include approximately 624 acres that include the site of the first and second battles of Newtonia. The precise location of the boundary revision is identified on a map numbered 410/117,379 and dated September 2021.
Pursuant to public law 110-229, a special resource study was conducted to evaluate if the Newtonia Battlefields in Newtonia, Missouri, met the criteria for addition to the National Park System as an independent unit of the system or as an addition to the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic, Missouri. The study found that the Newtonia Battlefields did not meet the significance or suitability criteria as an independent unit of the system. In evaluating the boundary of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, the study found that the Newtonia Battlefields are only tangentially related to the existing unit and the boundary modification would not protect significant resources, enhance opportunities for public enjoyment, address operational and management issues for the existing park site, or protect critical park resources. Given these findings, the Department does not support modifying the boundary of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield as described in S. 3307.
Currently the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (Association) owns and maintains 25 plus acres of the Battlefields. This includes the Ritchey Mansion and the "Old Newtonia Cemetery" or the "Civil War Cemetery" as it is locally known, with an unspecified number of unmarked graves. Nine markers have been identified as belonging to Union soldiers, including that of Captain Robert F. Christian, who was killed during the Second Battle of Newtonia.
The Association was instrumental in having the sites of the 1862 and the 1864 battles listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ritchey Mansion was previously listed on the National Register, and the Association revised that application after they purchased the Mansion in 2002 to include the battlefields. The Association applied for and received multiple grants from the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service to learn more about the site and improve its management, and can continue to compete for additional grants in the future if desired.
Chairman King, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.