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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Earth Day


Today is Earth Day. Although this celebration was established well after America's founding conflicts ended, it’s an opportune time to reflect on an important benefit of battlefield preservation: a healthier planet.

My name is Kathy Robertson, and I am a member of the Real Estate team at the Civil War Trust. Every day, the Trust works to save historic battlefield land from new development, provide open space and recreational opportunities, and ensure that this land is protected in perpetuity.

With your help, we’ve preserved over 48,000 acres of open space — much of it at battlefields under constant threat from development, from Manassas and Fredericksburg in Virginia to Stones River and Spring Hill in Tennessee. We’ve prevented urban sprawl from encroaching onto hallowed ground and, at the same time, averted the air and water pollution that would have come had that land been paved over with apartments or shopping malls.

As you know, the lands we save are rich with history and witnessed many of the events that defined who we are as a nation. But conserving battlefields protects our natural environment and contributes to the health of vital ecosystems. Protecting watersheds from destruction is a terrific example of this. By preventing toxic runoff, we protect sensitive watersheds, ensuring clean drinking water for people and wildlife to thrive.

Over the past 30 years, our supporters have helped to protect roughly 2.45 million linear feet of streams and rivers in the United States. This encompasses land in an incredible 87 different watersheds, including the Antietam battlefield in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Mississippi River Basin central to Civil War events at Vicksburg, and the Tennessee River Basin connected to the battles of Chattanooga and Chickamauga. Historically, these waterways played a key role in military operations. Today, they play an equally essential role in contributing to the health of our nation and our planet.

It’s not just healthy water systems that you are contributing to, but the wildlife that thrives in these open spaces and call them home. Oftentimes, we’ll save land that still has native flora and fauna which were present at the time of a battle. If left unprotected, these plant and animal species would no longer flourish.

For instance, the 180 acres we recently saved at Kettle Creek, Ga. is home to the longleaf pine. These trees were present at the time of the 1779 Revolutionary War battle and covered much of the landscape which witnessed the pivotal Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Fast forward to today, and preserved longleaf pine forests cover only a quarter of their original range across the United States.

Saving battlefield land at places such as Kettle Creek allows us to conserve and protect what is left of our sacred spaces and their natural history. Your support means that we can experience these hallowed grounds as the soldiers did, and future generations can appreciate their beauty for many years to come.

The Civil War Trust