05.12.11

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD IN LEGISLATION TO PRESERVE FISHKILL SUPPLY DEPOT AND HONOR FALLEN REVOLUTIONARY WAR HEROES BILL TO PROMOTE HUDSON VALLEY TOURISM EARNS SUPPORT OF NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Schumer Will Push For Legislation to Preserve Hundreds of Recently Discovered Graves at Revolutionary War Camp; Bill Could Make Depot a Major Part Of Hudson Valleys Tourism Industry Current Site Does Not Qualify For Funding Under Preservation Program - Schumer Reintroduces Legislation To Make Site Eligible For Funding To Purchase And Preserve Historic Land Majority of Site Already Developed for Commercial Use - Without Protection, Remaining Land in Danger of Being Paved Over

 

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced an important step forward for legislation to make the Fishkill Supply Depot in Fishkill, NY, an important depot for the Continental Army during the American revolution, eligible for federal preservation funds. Schumer announced that the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act of 2011 received the support of the National Park Service at a hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, during which the National Park Service voiced their support for the bill. The next step will be for the bill to be marked up in committee before receiving a vote on the Senate floor. In recent years, hundreds of graves that date back to the Revolutionary War have been found at the Fishkill Supply depot, increasing the urgency to protect this important piece of American history. Unfortunately, the existing preservation program that provides funding for communities to purchase and preserve significant historic locations, the American Battlefield Protection Program, currently only applies to sites associated with the Civil War. Schumer's legislation would expand this program to include historic sites that are also associated with the Revolutionary War  - including the Fishkill Supply Depot.

"The Fishkill Supply Depot has always been a local treasure, but with the discovery of hundreds of graves from the Revolutionary War, it is more important than ever to protect this site to honor the memory of those who fought to create our great nation," said Schumer. "It is great news that this bill is moving forward in the Committee, because it is critical that we protect this remarkable site in order to preserve its value for generations to come. This legislation can provide the town with greater resources to purchase and preserve the site to prevent any further development and destruction. The depot can serve as an attraction for visitors near and far and have a tremendous impact on the local economy."

The Fishkill Supply Depot was used during the Revolutionary War as a hub for food and supplies and as a camp for soldiers of the Continental Army. An important supply center in the New York region, the depot was visited by George Washington and was actively used by the army from 17761783.  The site played an important role in the Continental Army's fight to prevent the advance of the British Army and ultimately win independence.Schumer applauds this important step forward in preserving Fishkill Supply Depot and honoring fallen Revolutionary War heroes.

Recent archeological investigations and groundpenetrating radar scans have located hundreds of graves at the Fishkill Supply Depot dating back to the 18th century, and it is anticipated that the number of graves on the site could be more than 1,000. Much of the depot site has been covered by development, and there have been further plans for the construction of a shopping center. 

Tourism is New York State's second largest industry, and the Hudson Valley region generates the third most tourism dollars in the state, behind only New York City and Long Island. According to a study commissioned jointly by the New York State Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, the Tourism Industry Coalition, and the Empire State Development Corporation, tourism in the Hudson Valley generated $5.7 billion in the region and almost $800 million in Dutchess County alone.  According to the same source, tourism is responsible for 6% of all employment in the Hudson Valley.  Preservation of the Fishkill Supply Depot will increase the Dutchess' draw to tourists and will provide a boost to the regional economy. 

Despite its historical significance, little remains of the original structures at the Fishkill Supply Depot today. Much of this significant historic site has been developed into a shopping mall and a gas station.  Now, once more, land belonging to the supply depot, which has never been properly assessed by experts in the field of military archaeology, is being seriously threatened by a new round of commercial development.

Recent archeological investigations have turned up deep graves at the Fishkill Supply Depot dating to the 18th century. Groundpenetrating radar scans have located hundreds of graves, and it is anticipated that the number of graves on the site could be more than 1,000. A more thorough investigation is necessary to assess the true value of the site, but two remaining open space parcels are currently slated for development.

The National Park Service (NPS) currently operates a program to help States and local communities acquire and preserve threatened Civil War Battlefields.  The American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) awards grants to assist in the acquisition of Civil War sites for the purpose of historic preservation.  Schumer's legislation will ensure that Revolutionary War sites, including the Fishkill Supply Depot, are eligible for these funds. 

The American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil. The goals of the program are 1) to protect battlefields and sites associated with armed conflicts that influenced the course of our history, 2) to encourage and assist all Americans in planning for the preservation, management, and interpretation of these sites, and 3) to raise awareness of the importance of preserving battlefields and related sites for future generations. The ABPP focuses primarily on land use, cultural resource and site management planning, and public education.



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