Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 29
 
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
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Hearing Held on Rep. Rush Holt’s Battlefield Protection Legislation

Dilshanie Perera

“History is best experienced by those who can touch it, feel it, and live it,” said Representative Rush Holt (D-12) during Thursday’s hearing held by the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

Mr. Holt was promoting his bill, H.R. 160, the “Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act,” which he first introduced in 2003. His legislation would establish a federal grant program to aid in the conservation and protection of battle sites associated with the American Revolution or War of 1812 that are threatened by development or urban sprawl.

The implementation of the bill would allow officials at the American Battlefield Protection Program to work with state and local governments, and non-profit organizations to preserve the most endangered battle sites across the nation. It would also provide up to 50 percent of funds to purchase endangered land.

The Princeton Battlefield is a site that could certainly benefit from the legislation. Last week in a report to Congress, the National Park Service recognized the Battlefield as a “Priority One Principal Site,” meaning that it is historically significant and particularly threatened by development. The report found that 170 sites related to the American Revolution or War of 1812 are in danger of being destroyed within 10 years.

In his testimony to the Subcommittee, Mr. Holt highlighted New Jersey’s role in the American Revolution, noting that the state “had more military engagements during the Revolutionary War than any other state.” Located between British-held New York, and the rebel bastion of Philadelphia, the state was “at the crossroads of the founding of our new nation.”

Beyond New Jersey, the bill is expected to benefit a total of 33 states if it passes.

Mr. Holt underscored the importance of the “battlefields of American Revolution and War of 1812 in providing a unique opportunity for Americans to experience where and how the epic struggle for our nation’s independence took place.” He added that preservation of such landmarks is integral to “educating future generations about our rich cultural history.”

Zach Goldberg, communications director for Mr. Holt, said that he is “optimistic that the bill will start moving through the legislative process.” Today (after Town Topics press time) the House Committee on Natural Resources met to discuss the “Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act.” Upon their approval, the bill will move to the House of Representatives.

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