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    Cedar Creek Group Declines Federal Buyout For Battlefield
    By Andrew Martel
    The Winchester Star

    A burst of recent fund-raising activity has prompted the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation to decline a buyout by the National Park Service and pay off a 135-acre purchase itself.

    The 135 acres include a network of trenches dug by the Union XIX Corps during the Civil War. The trenches are located on the Cedar Creek Battlefield, which was the site of the Oct. 19, 1864, Union victory.
    The $1.2 million purchase for the network left the foundation $300,000 in debt. Earlier this fall, the National Park Service offered to purchase the land from the foundation.

    Although the trenches would be preserved regardless of which organization owned it, the foundation preferred to have the land under its own management, said Linden “Butch” Fravel, the foundation’s vice president.
    Under management by the foundation, the land would be “more accessible,” Fravel said, with less red tape required to hold an activity or event there.
    The foundation owns 308 acres within the Cedar Creek National Historical Park, which is 3,000 acres. The park, which was created last December, still consists of private property and allows re-enactments on its grounds.

    “Cedar Creek had come through some dark times in the last two or three years,” Fravel said. “The re-enactment (in 2002) was in the middle of the snipers. We were just so short on spectators, our gross was just so down.”
    The foundation depends on a good turnout from its annual re-enactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek to cover its land purchases and pay for its activities.

    “It’s really the spectators we depend on,” Fravel said.

    The 2001 re-enactment was not well-attended either, Fravel said, attributing it to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    “After that we were kind of depressed, and the funds were just not coming in,” Fravel said.

    But things began to turn around, with this year’s re-enactment, Fravel said. Attendance was “outstanding,” with 5,500 troops participating.
    “It’s becoming the finale for the re-enactment community on the East Coast — spectators were up,” Fravel said.

    At the same time, re-enactors pitched in and collected money to donate to the foundation.

    More than $12,000 was collected by re-enactors, Fravel said. One group from New York gave the foundation at least $5,000 in memory of one of their crew killed on Sept. 11, 2001, Fravel said.

    At its board meeting following the re-enactment, the decision was made for the foundation to pay off the land purchase itself.

    “We’ve been in debt 14 years now, we’ve been out of debt two weeks,” Fravel said. “We’re no worse off now.”

    While the foundation is pleased to keep the land locally managed, Fravel stressed that there was no dispute with the National Park Service.
    “What we were introduced to was red tape and how government moved so slowly,” Fravel said.

    The foundation is now planning for the next re-enactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek, scheduled for the third weekend in October 2004. It will be the 140th anniversary of the event.
    Mike "Dusty" Chapman

    Member: CWT, CVBT, NTHP, MOC, KBA, Stonewall Jackson House, Mosby Heritage Foundation

    "I would have posted this on the preservation folder, but nobody reads that!" - Christopher Daley

    The AC was not started with the beginner in mind. - Jim Kindred