November 23, 2015|By Frances Kennedy and Larry Selzer

A Conversation with Frances Kennedy

Larry: The Conservation Fund’s founder Patrick Noonan launched the Civil War Battlefield Campaign in 1988 for the Fund to work in partnerships with foundations, communities, nonprofits, and public agencies to protect our nation’s historic battlefields. What do you see as some of the major accomplishments of this initiative?

Frances: I was honored to be the Director of the Civil War Battlefield Campaign. Since 1988, the Fund and its partners have protected 9,776 acres of hallowed ground in 85 projects in 13 states valued at $27,618,805. One of the first collaborations was between The Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.  We worked together to protect the battlefields at Antietam, Appomattox, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Gettysburg, Kings Mountain, New Market, Manassas, and Petersburg. The Foundation donated the protected land to the National Park Service and to state agencies. 
Antietam StacyFunderburke BlogVisitors enjoying Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland. Photo by Stacy Funderburke/The Conservation Fund.

Gettysburg WhitneyFlanagan blog
Civil War-era artillery on display at Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo by Whitney Flanagan/The Conservation Fund.

Larry: Protected battlefields provide visitors with the opportunity to discover history and also to explore nature. What other benefits are there for states and local communities?

Frances: Spending by visitors to battlefield parks generates and supports economic activity within nearby communities. Visitor spending supports jobs in many sectors in addition to the parks, including restaurants, hotels, motels, shops, and stores.

Larry: How can communities find useful information on the economic benefits of protected battlefields to help them build local support to preserve their battlefields?

Frances: In 1994, I coauthored a book with Douglas Porter, The Dollar$ and Sense of Battlefield Preservation, a handbook for community leaders that focuses on how protected battlefields generate jobs and income for the local economy, while providing open space that improves quality of life. 

Frances-Kennedy-Book-Covers-BlogA great new resource for communities is the National Park Service web page and 2014 NPS Visitor Spending Effects Report. The Report documents the annual economic effects of NPS visitor spending as it moves through the Parks’ communities and on through the region.  The data in the Report are powerful tools for leaders working to protect their community’s natural areas and historic land.

Larry: Can you give us one example of how a project from the Civil War Battlefield Campaign has positively impacted the surrounding area?

Frances:  An important one is Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland. According to the 2014 NPS Visitor Spending Effects Report, there were more than 337,000 visits to the battlefield in 2014 that resulted in total visitor spending of nearly $19 million.  Visitor spending resulted in 274 jobs and an overall economic output (i.e., the total estimated value of the production of goods and services supported by visitor spending) of more than $25 million.

Another example is the Gettysburg National Military Park, where visitors spent an estimated $62.9 million in the area near the park, which supported 868 jobs and $83.8 million in economic output in 2014.

Antietam Maryland HaynesCooney blogAntietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Photo by Haynes Cooney/The Conservation Fund.

By working with our partners to protect our nation’s hallowed ground, we honor the soldiers and provide visitors—from America and from around the world—with opportunities to learn about the Civil War and its importance in our nation’s history.