Principal tool used to preserve Civil War battlefields gains new life at hands of Congress

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It went unnoticed amid Thursday's media hullabaloo over designation of more wilderness lands, but Congress has reinvigorated battlefield preservation.

As part of the gigantic public-lands bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed this week, legislators reauthorized the American Battlefield Protection Program. The bipartisan measure awaits President Obama's signature at the White House on Monday.

Congressional renewal of the ABPP is crucial to local, state and federal work to save some of the nation's remaining Civil War sites from compromise or destruction, supporters said yesterday.

Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, cheered the action on Capitol Hill.

"Here in the Fredericksburg area alone, this program has facilitated the preservation of hundreds of acres of battlefield land, including Slaughter Pen Farm and Day One Chancellorsville," Smith said.

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