Distributional economic impacts of Civil War battlefield preservation alternatives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

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Virginia Tech


The recent disappearance of unpreserved Civil War battlefield sites under the press of private development has initiated new nation-wide preservation efforts of remaining unpreserved battlefield sites by both the public and private sectors. However, preservation efforts of Civil War sites are encumbered when little or no market incentive exists for private landowners to resist the more remunerative rewards of commercial development.

This study quantifies the direct, indirect, and induced distributional economic impacts of battlefield preservation on local economies surrounding selected Civil War battlefield sites located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Distributional analyses examine the changes in economic activity (e.g., employment and personal income) within a region, and help to document the economic feasibility of battlefield preservation. Both private and government ownership and development of battlefield sites are considered.

The study results indicate that preserving Civil War battlefields can have positive distributional economic impacts on the local economy, but whether or not these impacts justify battlefield preservation by the public or private sector is not established in this study. Distributional impacts are only one type of economic benefit that a battlefield park may contribute to the local economy. The nonmarket value of battlefield parks may provide more benefits to society than the market value of parks, and should be considered in the decision to preserve Civil War battlefields.