The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation has received two grants totaling a combined $1 million from the National Park Service.
John Hutchinson, the conservation director for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, said that the organization received a $910,500 grant to pay for 31 acres at the Third Winchester Battlefield and a $143,000 grant to pay for 13 acres at the New Market Battlefield. Hutchinson said he learned of the grant awards on Thursday, after applying in April.
The two grants are both coming from the American Battlefield Protection Program, part of the National Park Service. In both cases; the grants require the battlefield foundation to provide some matching funds; the foundation is using state and private grants to do so.
Hutchinson said that the battlefields foundation has already purchased all of the land involved in these grants. It is using the grant funds to pay off the loans used to acquire the land.
The land the battlefield foundation has acquired in New Market is part of a broader plan by the foundation to create a one-mile trail connecting the New Market Battlefield Military Museum to the rest of New Market.
“Something like 70,000 people a year visit that museum and not very many of them also visit the museum of New Market,” Hutchinson said.
The foundation, he said, hopes that the trail will help bring people into town, which will provide a boost for local businesses.
“Give them a reason to come into town, instead of getting in their car and driving over,” Hutchinson said.
But the trail itself is at least two years away from happening, Hutchinson said. The battlefield foundation still has to purchase some properties in order to build the planned trail.
The land at the Third Winchester Battlefield, meanwhile, is part of a town historical park, Hutchinson said, where cross-country teams can run and where historically inclined people can come to learn more about Civil War history.
“It’s all contiguous and it’s got like eight miles of trails and we encourage its use by the general public,” Hutchinson said.