Webb: Enlarge Petersburg’s national park
U.S. Sen. Jim Webb wants Petersburg National Battlefield to become the biggest military park in America.
Webb proposes legislation to add 7,200 acres to the 2,700-acre park, which would make it larger than Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Georgia and Tennessee.
Most of the new acreage would be in Dinwiddie County and southwest of Petersburg. Webb’s plan would add 12 battlefields among the sites of more than two dozen Civil War engagements in the area. Many of them are vulnerable to industrial and residential development, Webb said Wednesday.
“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,” the Democratic senator from Virginia said.
The novel and the movie “Cold Mountain” depict some of the fighting in the Petersburg area.
Park Superintendent Bob Kirby said the 12 battlefields retain the war’s “cultural landscape,” enabling rangers to readily interpret maneuvers and troop movements there.
Webb’s proposal would authorize the National Park Service to acquire the properties, which are appraised at $29 million.
The expansion was recommended in the National Park Service’s 2005 General Management Plan for Petersburg.
“Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and this legislation serves as an appropriate and timely means to commemorate this significant historical event,” Webb said.
“Additionally, investing in historic landmarks benefits the commonwealth’s tourism sector,” he said. “154,000 visitors come to Petersburg National Battlefield each year, generating more than $9 million in local revenue. For this reason, the legislation is important to our continuing efforts to spur tourism and new jobs in Petersburg and the surrounding communities.”