Those of you that follow my blog know that I am a strong advocate of the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT). This wonderful organization’s primary mission is the preservation of Civil War battlefields – ground that can be lost forever to urban sprawl. They have been very successful over the past decade in saving land, with over 25,000 acres saved, to date. However, there is still plenty of work to be done. According to the CWPT website, only 20% of hallowed Civil War ground has been saved. Additionally, we are losing approximately one acre of hallowed ground per hour.(i) So what exactly does the Civil War Preservation Trust do? Their mission statement, as written on their website, really sums it up.
Our Mission: The Civil War Preservation Trust is America’s largest non-profit organization (501–C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war’s history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.(ii)
Based in Washington D.C., the Civil War Preservation trust has a professional staff that specializes in the many functions of land preservation: real estate, grants and government relations. Additionally the Trust employs a staff of professionals that manage their website, databases, communications, membership development, events and educational programs.
While so many of us enjoy visiting major battlefields, managed by the National Park Service, many of the most pivotal fields of battle are not protected by Federal or state governments. They are privately owned lands that are vulnerable to development. This is where the Civil War Preservation Trust really shines. Working with local and state governments, and other organizations, they can quickly organize an acquisition strategy to save valuable lands – lands that might end up housing a strip mall, lumber yard or parking lot. Obviously their is a cost associated with land preservation. Members of the CWPT are quickly alerted to time sensitive Civil War battlefield preservation opportunities. In most cases the Trust has already secured matching funds that help the member’s donation double, triple or quadruple. These matching grants are critical in acquiring large tracts of lands that can cost millions of dollars.
When an individual becomes a member of the Civil War Preservation Trust they immediately receive benefits: the wonderful quarterly magazine, Hallowed Ground, high quality battlefield maps, monthly e-Newsletter, invitation to the Annual CWPT Conference and rental car discounts. But most importantly you become involved in saving battlefields that future generations of Civil War enthusiasts will enjoy. Your gifts to the Trust are tax deductible.
I encourage each of you to consider becoming a member of this important organization. If you are already a member, please consider increasing your membership level – perhaps to a Color Bearer level. You can be confident that your membership dues, and battlefield campaign donations, will be put to use saving battlefields. While there are fixed costs that the organization incurs to sustain its activities the CWPT operates very efficiently with most of their members’ money being used to save land.
Recently I wrote an article about the Wilderness Wal-Mart, and the negative impact it will have on the Wilderness Battlefield, if it’s built where they are planning to build it. This is an immediate threat that can be alleviated. Please read my blog article on Wilderness Wal-Mart for more information: Help The Civil War Preservation Trust Save the Wilderness Battlefield.
On Monday, June 22, 2009, I had the distinct honor to speak with Mr. James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust. The eight part audio interview can be listened to by clicking on the following links.
Interview with Jim Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Preservation Trust
Total Time: 51 minutes 29 seconds
Part 1: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 1
Contents: Opening and welcome | History of the Civil War Preservation Trust | Mission of the Civil War Preservation Trust | Battlefield preservation priorities | How the Trust decides what property to target | Race against time | “200 Year Rule” | Mr. Lighthizer’s interest in the Civil War | How Mr. Lighthizer became involved in the CWPT
Part 2: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 2
Contents: What the Civil War Preservation trust means to me | CWPT members are part of a large family | The Trust is as strong as its individual members | Success stories of the CWPT
Part 3: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 3
Contents: Glendale and Malvern Hill success story | Matching funds and grants | The Civil War Preservation Trust always has “skin-in-the-game” | Fixed costs of running the Trust | Reaching potential members through technology
Part 4: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 4
Contents: Update on the Wilderness Wal-Mart | Other current preservation opportunities
Part 5: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 5
Contents: Preservation opportunities in the Shenandoah Valley | Working with local groups | Cedar Creek battlefield risk | Membership goals | Color Bearer membership
Part 6: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 6
Contents: Key staff additions have created value | CWPT’s commitment to its fiduciary responsibilities | Celebrity spokespeople | CWPT’s new website | Animated battlefield maps
Part 7: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 7
Contents: CWPT Teacher’s Institute | The battlefield as an outdoor classroom | Proper teaching sow the seeds of the future
Part 8: Jim Lighthizer – Civil War Preservation Trust Interview Pt 8
Contents: New and exciting things going on at the CWPT | Success at Richmond and Mill Springs, Kentucky | A saved battlefield is a legacy that lasts forever | Wrap up and closing