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Financing Preservation

Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Financing preservationWhere does the money come from for battlefield preservation? How much is spent? We know that battlefield preservation is critically important, but who is paying for it? We have sifted through some of the relevant budgets for 2016 and a few studies on economic impact in order to help clarify why preservation of battlefields makes sense beyond the historical value. This post will look at battlefield preservation as a whole, rather than just focusing on U.S. Civil War battlefields.

The bulk of the financing of battlefield preservation projects comes from a mixture of federal grants, state grants and non- governmental organizations (NGOs).

The two significant sources of public grant money to preserve battlefields comes from American Battlefield Protection Grants (ABPP) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The definitions below are taken directly from the National Parks Service budget for Fiscal Year 2016. Essentially, ABPP grants help pay for the administrative and management activities associated with a battlefield and the LWCF participates in the purchasing and acquisition of battlefield sites that need to be preserved. A partnership is then formed with an organization such as The Civil War Trust or The Conservation Fund who provides the infrastructure and support in order to perform the necessary activities to preserve a site.


“The goals of the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) are to protect battlefields and sites associated with armed conflicts that influenced the course of American history; to encourage and assist in planning for the preservation, management, and interpretation of these sites; and to raise awareness of the importance of preserving battlefields and related sites for future generations.”  [1]


“ABPP planning grants do not fund land acquisition or capital improvement projects, but assist in the preservation and protection of America’s significant battlefields through site identification and documentation, as well as planning, interpretation, and educational projects. Projects associated with lands already owned by the NPS are not eligible for ABPP planning grants. ABPP planning grants complement the program’s land acquisition grants, which are funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide resources to non-federal entities to acquire threatened Civil War Battlefield sites outside the National Park System.”[2]


The National Parks Service has budgeted $2,037,000 in 2016 for Administration of grants. It’s unclear exactly how much of this money will be spent preserving battlefields, but in 2014, assistance grants were awarded to 60 battlefields in 15 states for a total of $1,358,000.

So, the big question is, what impact does preservation have on a local economy? We are investing a healthy amount of public money into these efforts, why do they matter?

Impact on local economies was measured in a 2011 study by the organization Preserve America. They hired a company called Pace Economics to issue the report.

This study, entitled “Measuring the Economics of Preservation” [3] focuses on building a platform that can consistently measure project success through economic indicators. Below are the measures that they found to be relevant as well as a specific example they illustrate in the paper. The author chose to focus on specific successes in the areas that he/she found to be the economically positive for a preservation project.

Below are quotes from their findings for the report for the identified key indicators:


“In Delaware, $1 million spent on the rehabilitation of a historic structure means 14.6 jobs in Delaware. This compares with 11.2 jobs from $1 million of new construction and 9.2 jobs from $1 million of manufacturing output.

— The Delaware Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program: Good for the Economy, Good for the Environment, Good for Delaware’s Future (2010)”


“In Louisville, Kentucky, properties in local historic districts were worth between $59,000 and $67,000 more than comparable properties not in historic districts. Between 2000 and 2007 houses in local historic districts appreciated 21% more than the rest of the market.

— Historic Preservation’s Impact on Job Creation, Property Values, and Environmental Sustainability


“Spending by visitors to twenty surveyed Civil War battlefields generated a total of $21 million in state taxes and another $11.7 million in local government revenues. This amounts to approximately $5.22 per visitor at the state level and another $2.92 to pay for local services.

— Blue, Gray, and Green: A Battlefield Benefits Guide for Community Leaders (2006)”


“It’s not just the buildings or even what is inside the boundaries of a historic site that matters. Of visitors to 20 Civil War battlefields, between 75% and 96% said that the view as they walked the battlefield was very important to the experience. An average of 90% reported that they would be more likely to visit a Civil War battlefield site if more of the land was preserved and protected. What is the impact of protecting this environment on the local economy? While more than 60% of these visitors came to the community specifically because of the battlefield, 92% of their expenditures were not at the site but in local restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and retail shops.

— Blue, Gray, and Green: A Battlefield Benefits Guide for Community Leaders (2006) ”


“In St. Louis, Missouri, during the first decade of the state’s historic tax credit nearly 100 vacant or abandoned historic buildings were rehabilitated into hotels, offices, apartment buildings, retail facilities, and condominiums.

— The Economics of Preservation in Missouri (2008)”


“One strong measure of the health of an economic environment is the ratio between business openings and business closings. Between 2004 and 2008, nationally there were between 1.1 and 1.2 business openings for every business closing. During that same period in Georgia Main Street and Better Hometown communities, there were between 2.8 and 4.6 business openings for every business closing.

— Good News in Tough Times: Historic Preservation and the Georgia Economy (2011)”

Has your community ever been impacted by a historical preservation project? We’d love to hear about it.  Please contact us at or

[1] p. 255
[2] p. 255

Justin Miller is the director of the upcoming Civil War reenacting movie, When To Die.  Learn more at

-By Justin Miller

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