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Richmond National Battlefield Park to expand

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Federal funds totaling $4 million will be used to expand Richmond National Battlefield Park by 385 acres.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced plans for the park expansion at a town hall meeting in Richmond examining the importance of the area’s history in attracting tourists. Virginia is marketing itself as a destination during the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

“Tourism is one of the top economic drivers in Virginia and in communities throughout the country,” Salazar said in a statement. “These acquisitions, funded by fees from offshore oil and gas development, will enable us to preserve two key battlefields of the Civil War and help draw more visitors and jobs to the area. This is a win-win situation for everyone.”

In January, the Obama administration launched the creation of a Travel & Competitiveness Task Force to create jobs by promoting domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the U.S.

“In 2010, tourism in Virginia generated $18.9 billion in revenue, provided $1.3 billion in state and local taxes and supported more than 204,000 jobs,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in statement. “In these difficult economic times, these investments in our history will also pay dividends to our future by putting more people back to work.”

The land to be preserved with the new funds lies primarily on the Glendale and Malvern Hill battlefields, which played key roles in the summer 1862 campaign by Union Gen. George B. McClellan to take Richmond, the Confederate capital.

The federal funds will be used to acquire at least 385 acres, much of which lies on the Glendale battlefield.  Until now, Glendale has been inaccessible to visitors.  The Department of the Interior said that, with these preservation funds, the battlefield will be almost entirely preserved and the area will be made accessible to visitors for the first time.

Nearly 23 million people visit Virginia’s 22 National Park sites, with out-of-town visitors contributing $493 million to local economies and supporting 7,000 private sector jobs. 

At Richmond National Battlefield Park, for example, out-of-town visitors contributed more than $8 million to the local economy in 2010, supporting more than 130 jobs in the community.

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