Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Wilderness Battlefield on the National Trust's Top Eleven Endangered Sites

A few posts back I mentioned that the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) had released its top ten endangered battlefields. Well, just on their heels came the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the top eleven endangered historic sites in the United States.

It was both pleasing and disturbing to see that the National Trust also included the Wilderness Battlefield to their list. It was pleasing in that the threat there is being made known to an even larger audience than solely battlefield preservationists, but it is disturbing in that this hallowed ground is in such danger as to make both lists.

Along with the Wilderness, the other sites on the top eleven in danger are a diverse group. Hinchcliffe Stadium in Patterson, New Jersey is only one of three Negro League baseball stadiums still in existence. Once the home of the New York Black Yankees, this now dilapidated stadium once used to host some of baseball's best players. Also included on the list is Black Mountain in eastern Kentucky. The towns of Benham and Lynch were booming coal towns in the first half of the twentieth century, but now the towns face threats from the mineral that first brought them into existence. Surface and deep coal mining projects endanger the historic feel of these areas, which have worked so hard to reinvent themselves into a special heritage tourism area.

The most unusual "site" listed is not actually in one single location. The National Trust made it a point to explain that deep cuts to states' budgets have caused many state historic sites and state-owned parks to forfeit much of the wonderful work and programming they provide to their citizens. They report that almost 3o states have experienced budget cuts to their state parks and historic sites and that as many as 400 parks and sites could be closed due to those cuts. At issue is not only the present availability of the parks and sites, but also the significant damage that could occur due to abandonment and or lack of maintenance.

Now is the time to act. Write your representatives, both state and national, and tell them how important these sites are to you and all citizens. Visit these sites. Your tourism dollars can mean whether a site stays open or if it disappears in a flurry of development or possibly closes for good.

To learn more about the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Top Eleven Endangered sites click on the following link:

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