I recently received the following information in an email. This is a great example of how preservation groups and private landowners can work together to preserve Civil War battlefields which are still in danger of destruction.
Middleburg, Va. (August 6, 2009) – The Land Trust of Virginia Board of Directors has created a new fund, called the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Stewardship Fund, as a means of recognizing and providing financial support for landowners interested in protecting properties where Civil War battles took place. Grants from the fund will be used to offset some of individual landowner’s expenses associated with putting battlefield acreage into easement.
The Land Trust of Virginia (LTV) currently holds easements on 25 Civil War battlefield properties covering more than 1,500 acres, including 912 acres of the Battle of Upperville, 517 acres of the Battle of Unison, 70 acres of the Battle of Aldie, and 33 acres of the Battle of Middleburg. LTV’s Board of Directors anticipates that LTV will pursue and accept even more easements on Civil War sites as the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Preservation Fund becomes more widely known.
A long-time professional journalist who reported for both the Loudoun Times Mirror and the Civil War News, Ms. Fitts was considered by many to be the nation’s leading journalist covering Civil War preservation issues. For more than a decade, Fitts wrote eloquently about the struggle to protect Virginia’s hallowed Civil War landscape. She covered many major Civil War preservation battles that made national headlines, such as the proposed Disney theme park near Manassas and the successful preservation of Brandy Station, as well as many other nationally significant Civil War battlefield preservation efforts.
Childs Burden, a member of LTV’s Board of Directors and a close friend and colleague of Deborah’s, said: “The preservation of the history of this beloved Commonwealth of Virginia played such an important part of Deborah’s life. She has played an equally important role in preserving our Commonwealth’s heritage. Deborah devoted much of her life’s work to writing and educating others about Manassas, Chantilly, Unison, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, Upperville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House, Mount Zion Church, and many other Civil War sites threatened by development.”
Last year, the Civil War Preservation Trust honored Deborah’s memory by conveying her, posthumously, the distinguished “Lifetime Achievement Award,” bestowed for journalistic excellence in educating her readers about the fragile status of our nation’s sacred battlefields. The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) Board of Trustees also voted in June 2009 to render a $30,000 grant to the Land Trust of Virginia for the purpose of inaugurating the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Stewardship Fund. Another $15,000 has already been pledged, bringing the total fund to $45,000.
Jim Campi, spokesman for CWPT, asserted: “I speak for everyone on the CWPT staff when I say she has left a lasting legacy of education and preservation for which we are extremely grateful. Through her work at The Civil War News, Deborah spread her love of history and her passion for preservation to an army’s worth of readers across the country. Through her admiring readers, Deborah’s impact will continue to be felt for many years to come. Now, with the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Stewardship Fund, her work will live on through the preserved land she helped to save.
For further information about the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Stewardship Fund, contact LTV Executive Director Don Owen at email@example.com or LTV Board member Childs Burden at CBurden338@aol.com.