The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Emily Jones, Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 865.329.2424, ext. 2

New Study Finds Tennessee Civil War National Parks Need Additional Funding to Preserve Historic Battlefields and Tell Civil War Stories


As we commemorate National Armed Forces Day, the nation's
leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks
Conservation Association (NPCA), today released a new assessment
recommending additional federal funding to maintain several of the
nation's historic Civil War battlefields. The report, which features
four Civil War parks in Tennessee: Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Shiloh National Military Park, Stones River National Battlefield, and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park,
also finds that adjacent land development threatens historic views that
are essential to understanding the important battles and history that
took place there.

"As we approach the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we must
ensure that our national treasures, and Tennessee's Civil War heritage,
is preserved and protected for our children and grandchildren to
enjoy," said Emily Jones, National Parks Conservation
Association program manager.

According to the assessment by the National Parks Conservation
Association's Center for State of the Parks, each of the four Civil War
battlefields suffer from staffing and federal funding shortfalls that
affect the National Park Service's ability to provide educational
programs to visitors and maintain hundreds of historic military
markers, cannons, and monuments.

For example, at Fort Donelson National Battlefield, the Park Service
needs $48,000 to document and interpret ties to African-American
history and the park's association with the National Underground
Railroad Network to Freedom. Shiloh National Military Park has the
oldest visitor orientation film of any park in the park system, and
needs $750,000 to create a new film and rehabilitate the auditorium at
the existing visitor center. At Stones River National Battlefield, home
to the nation's oldest intact Civil War monument, the Park Service has
limited staff to care for monuments, historic structures, and cultural
landscapes. And at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park,
the Park Service lacks a preservation crew to maintain Civil War
monuments, markers, plaques, and historic buildings.

"Many of our national parks, including our Civil War parks, suffer
from chronic federal funding shortfalls that limits the ability to
preserve historic sites and tell the stories of our American heritage,"
said Jones.

At Fort Donelson, in 2007, about one third of visitors took part in
interpretive programs in the park, such as ranger-led tours. According
to its 2007 business plan, the park needs three more guides to
optimally serve visitors. At Shiloh, the park needs four additional
interpretation rangers to provide school groups and history
organizations the same range of educational programs offered during the
summer with the help of seasonal staff.

Report findings also indicate that all of Tennessee's Civil War
national parks are threatened by adjacent development that would mar
historical and scenic views that are essential to interpreting American
history and providing visitors with a memorable experience.

For example, at Fort Donelson, residential development along the
park's boundaries impairs the viewshed and compromises the 19th-century
atmosphere the park is trying to replicate. At Shiloh, development just
outside the park borders is unregulated and local commuters use park
roads 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as a route between neighboring
communities. This continuous accessibility puts the park at risk from
vandalism, looting, wildlife poaching, and vehicular damage, and it
requires the park to expend resources on nighttime patrols. At Stones
River, the park is highly fragmented and is surrounded by an urban
environment. As a result, adjacent development disrupts wildlife
habitat, generates noise, and mars views, affecting the park's ability
to preserve the Civil War-ear setting. And at Chickamauga and
Chattanooga, suburban sprawl is encroaching, and there are strip malls
and housing developments just outside the park.

"Imagining troops marching across the battlefields is critical to
understanding the battles that took place there but urban development
can make this visualization difficult," said Jones. "Development and
traffic noise disrupts educational programs and detracts from the
historic events that are remembered in our nation's battlefields."

Last month, the Department of the Interior announced specific
job-creating projects that will be completed in national parks across
the country as a result of the more than $900 million in stimulus
funding provided by Congress. The list of projects includes funding for
restoration projects at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Stones River, and
Chickamauga and Chattanooga. This important reinvestment in our
national parks will address some needs and create jobs, but, as NPCA's
assessment points out, there is much more to do to restore our national

The National Parks Conservation Association is encouraging Congress
to fund the president's proposed fiscal year 2010 budget, which would
increase federal funding for Tennessee's Civil War national parks and
national parks across the country.

Since May 19, 1919, the nonpartisan NPCA has been the leading voice
of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park
System. NPCA launched the landmark Center for State of the Parks
program in 2000 to assess the resource conditions of national parks
across the country. To view a copy of the full report, and take action
to help protect the park, please click here.

To view the National Park Service projects funded by the stimulus, visit:

To download park photos, please click here.

NPCA is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.