By Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

New York’s 21st District is the cradle of the American Revolution – home to Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Ann, Battle of Johnstown, Crown Point, and the Bennington Battlefield. Our region is home to the renowned Battles of Saratoga that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in America’s favor. Families across Upstate New York and the North Country are incredibly proud of this deep military history that birthed our great nation.

I grew up going to these historic sites and for years have led the charge to preserve our historic battlefields in Congress as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Battlefield Caucus. It’s critical that we preserve and honor the places where Americans gave their last full measure of devotion in order to ensure future generations of Americans learn the lessons of their sacrifices on these hallowed grounds.

Protecting our nation’s battlefields is essential for creating rich, educational programming and experiences for students and visitors. That is why I introduced the American Battlefield Protection Program Enhancement Act to ensure that these foundational lands are preserved for generations to come. I led this bipartisan legislation with my Congressional Battlefield Caucus Co-Chair Mr. Connolly of Virginia to preserve and improve the American Battlefield Protection Program, one of the most successful land preservation programs managed by the National Park Service. Since its conception, the American Battlefield Protection Program has helped protect more than 100 battlefields in 42 states, including Fort Ann and Sackets Harbor in our region. I am proud that this important bill passed the House recently with bipartisan support.

The American Battlefield Protection Program Enhancement Act will continue to ensure our many battlefields are properly maintained by improving and streamlining the American Battlefield Protection Program, making critical modifications to strengthen the program for years to come. My bill will also allow non-profits and tribes to apply to the program directly instead of having to go through a government sponsor. Removing this burdensome hurdle cuts through bureaucracy, allowing these entities to be more efficient in preserving our endangered battlefields.

Additionally, my legislation will clarify the eligibility of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sites for Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants to ensure the program is used to preserve battlefield land while also creating a process for the National Park Service to expand and update battlefield boundaries.

With modern research, archaeology, and emerging technologies, the historical boundaries of various battlefields have shifted. Without the program improvements in my bill, portions of battlefields with newly discovered historic importance stand to be lost. We must not allow this to happen and instead, strive to ensure these critical pieces of our history are preserved for future generations.

This past July, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on my bill. I was honored to invite Beth Hill, President and CEO of the Fort Ticonderoga Association to testify on the benefits of the legislation and the great work they are doing at Fort Ticonderoga.

I am grateful to work on behalf of the people of Upstate New York and the North Country. We represent the heart of America: hardworking, patriotic believers in our nation’s exceptionalism and our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our home is steeped in rich military history and its preservation is one of my top priorities. This week, I am so proud that my bill the American Battlefield Protection Program Enhancement Act passed the House of Representatives unanimously and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation signed into law to ensure our most hallowed grounds are preserved for future generations.