Jul 17 2018
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) invited Bill Neikirk, Pulaski County native and founding president of the Mill Springs Battlefield Association (MSBA), to Washington this week to testify before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands on behalf of the Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument Act. Rep. Rogers filed the bill, H.R. 5979, in an effort to highlight the national historical significance of the Civil War battleground spanning Wayne and Pulaski counties. A companion bill has also been filed in the U.S. Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"Though the Mill Springs Battlefield Association has maintained the battlefield since 1992, we appreciate the National Park Service’s ability and expertise to generate tourism, and believe that the Park Service is best positioned to maintain the battlefield into the future," said Neikirk in his testimony. "In recognition of this, we would like to ask the Committee to support Congressman Rogers’ bill, H.R. 5979, which would direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument as a unit of the National Park System."
In 1991, the National Park Service identified Mill Springs Battlefield as one of the 25 most endangered battlefields in America, prompting Neikirk to develop the MSBA.
"MSBA is unique in that we are not asking the Park Service to take over undeveloped battlefield land, nor buy the land. In contrast, we hope to donate the National Park Service the 900 acres with miles of well-kept interpretive trails, a marked driving tour, and a visitor’s center/museum," Neikirk continued. "The Mill Springs Battlefield Association will continue as a friends group in support of the battlefield, as our dedication to preserving & protecting the battlefield will not change when this hopefully becomes a National Monument."
To honor the site, Mill Springs Battlefield was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark District in 1993, but its addition to the NPS will provide much-needed federal support to maintain the site.
"I would like to thank Bill Neikirk, the Founder of the Mill Springs Battlefield Association, for taking the time to be here today to testify. He has been the driving force behind the continued preservation of the Mill Springs Battlefield," said Rep. Rogers. "The site of the Mill Springs Battlefield is currently maintained by the MSBA. Since its founding in 1992, MSBA has steadfastly preserved and protected the battlefield for future generations. They currently own more than 900 acres, and even built a $1.7 million, 10,000-square foot visitor center and museum at the site. While MSBA is currently doing an exemplary job in maintaining the battlefield, it simply does not have the financial resources to adequately preserve and maintain the site in perpetuity."
"I’d like to thank the other members of the Kentucky Delegation—both here in the House, and in the Senate, who have supported my efforts to add Mill Springs to the National Park System—particularly Leader McConnell, who recently introduced a Senate companion to this bill."
On Wednesday, the committee will vote on the bill to send it on to the full House for consideration.