Legislation introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va) and cosponsor Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va) this month would give the National Park Service authority to expand the size of the Petersburg National Battlefield by more than 7,000 acres in order to protect 12 battlefields currently outside the park’s boundaries.
“Petersburg saw nearly one quarter of the Civil War fought in its surrounding area and the preservation of these battlefields is important for future generations to understand and appreciate the significance of our nation’s history,” Webb said in a press release. Virginia’s heritage tourism is an important component of the state’s economy and the expansion would bring in more tourists and add jobs, he said.
The 12 battlefields, located in Petersburg and Dinwiddie County, are Five Forks, Fort Stedman, White Oak, Hatcher's Run, Reams Station, Globe Tavern, Jerusalem Plank Road, the Crater, Boydton Plank Road, Peebles Farm, the Breakthrough and Fort Davis.
The additional acreage, estimated to be worth about $30 million, would make Petersburg the largest battlefield park in the country. It is now about 2,600 acres. The Park Service would acquire the land through purchase from willing sellers, easements, exchange and donations from private and non-profit land owners over a 15 to 20 year period.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Park Service would need about $500,000 annually for new trails, exhibits, surveys and studies and another $500,000 annually for operation and management costs.
Webb is reintroducing the Petersburg National Boundary Modification Act. Last year it cleared the House but time ran out before the Senate could act on it.