By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – Two parties are working on an agreement for the National Park Service to begin managing 800 acres of Civil War battlefield property even before a formal property transfer is concluded.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission and Shiloh National Military Park want park rangers to begin maintenance at the properties right away.
“Our five-member commission welcomes the National Park Service assuming management of the land and providing ranger services to protect all the work we've done at the battlefield sites and keep up the property,” said Commission Chairwoman Rosemary Williams.
The budget appropriation for the U.S. Department of the Interior in December approved transfer of the battlefields which the commission worked to acquire, preserve, promote and interpret.
However, the transition is likely to take as long as a year, and there are still hurdles to cross in the process.
Details of the property transfer that must be completed before the National Park Service will accept the donation from the Siege and Battle Commission include environmental assessments, surveys, title searches of the properties and other matters that will take a number of months.
A concern for Williams and the other commissioners is maintaining the properties at an acceptable level until the property transfer takes place – a costly effort.
“We've made all these sites accessible with interpretive signs, benches, bright lights, trash receptacles and walking paths to get to the earthworks,” she said. “The National Park Service will have relatively little work to do to prepare for visitors.”
The appropriations bill for authorizing the National Park Service to add up to 950 acres at the Corinth Unit, which is 22 miles southwest of Shiloh.
Shiloh's budget was increased by about $400,000 for the added management responsibilities.
Shiloh Superintendent Woody Harrell has worked closely with Williams and the Commission for several years to bring together the intertwined stories of events at Shiloh and Corinth during the Civil War.
Harrell is trying to expedite the necessary agreement for his staff to begin managing and maintaining the properties.
“We are working with our lands office in Atlanta on the scope of work for the cooperative agreement that NPS can sign with Siege and Battle,” Harrell said. “There are new procedures, though, so I don't know if the process will be quick or long. Our target is to have an agreement in place before the grass starts growing in the spring.”
Contact Daily Journal Corinth Bureau reporter Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.