Gov. McAuliffe to appear at battlefield event

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to visit Fisher’s Hill Battlefield near Strasburg on Tuesday to present awards for the preservation of Virginia Civil War battlefields.

According to Randy Jones, public information officer for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the New Market-based Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, which is hosting the event, is set to win one of the awards.

“We work with [the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation] all the time, so we did see it as an opportune time to make the announcement,” Jones said. “They wanted to highlight their own success stories.”

Keven Walker, CEO of the battlefields foundation, will be speaking during the event.

Julie Langan, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, will also speak at the event, while McCormick Civil War Institute director Jonathan Noyalas will lead a tour of Fisher’s Hill Battlefield.

“If the weather’s well, it should be a great event, because it’s a beautiful part of the Shenandoah Valley,” Jones said.

He noted that it is fairly common for the governor to attend this event.

“They don’t do it every year, necessarily, but it’s not unusual at all,” Jones said.

He said that the Department of Historic Resources doles out about $1 million every year to the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund matching grant program.

The program allows nonprofit organizations throughout the state to use state funds to purchase battlefield land that they want to preserve.

According to Jones, the Department of Historic Resources originally set out to only approve Civil War battlefield sites. But since around 2013, he said, the agency has accepted applications for War of 1812 and Revolutionary War sites.

Still, Jones said, “I don’t think we’ve ever gotten an application for those wars, for those battlefields. It’s pretty much just been Civil War sites.”

Jones said that the fund is specifically for purchasing the easements or the land of old battlefield sites. After the nonprofit purchases the land or easement, the grant requires the organization to donate it to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“That thereby protects the land in perpetuity,” Jones said.

Jones said that this year’s awards will provide for the purchase of over 200 acres of land.

Tuesday’s event will start at 1:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Attendees have to RSVP, however, by going to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Preservation Fund’s website, www.shenandoahatwar.org, or by calling  540-740-4545.