Cell towers put Georgia battlefield "at risk"

Cell towers put Georgia battlefield "at risk"

June 19th, 2010 by Andy Johns in News

The Civil War Preservation Trust has named two Northwest Georgia battlefields in their 15 "at risk" sites.

The national group said the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and the Resaca Battlefield are at risk, but for different reasons.

Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Joe Sweetapple takes photos from Wilder Tower at the Chickamauga Battlefield on Tuesday.

Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

Chickamauga "is beset by proposals for cellular communications towers" and Resaca is still struggling to secure funding and move forward with an interpretive center, the group said.

"The cell towers were used as just two examples, but there are other potential things," said Jim Ogden, historian for the Chickamauga park. "Just being in this half-million metropolitan area, there are plenty of places where construction ... may impact some part of the battlefield or the visitors' understanding."

The Civil War Trust specifically mentions a plan for cell towers on Missionary Ridge and near McLemore's Cove, a hollow between Lookout and Pigeon Mountains west of LaFayette, Ga.

In addition to the at-risk sites, the group listed 10 "most endangered" battlefields where there are more severe threats. The most endangered spots are threatened by wind turbines, mining, casinos, a Walmart and other development.


* Camp Allegheny, W.Va. (wind turbines)

* Cedar Creek, Va. (limestone mining)

* Fort Stevens, Washington, D.C. (encroaching development)

* Gettysburg, Pa. (casino)

* Picacho Peak, Ariz. (park closing)

* Pickett's Mill, Ga. (limited park hours/reduced staff)

* Richmond, Ky. (new highway interchange)

* South Mountain, Md. (natural gas site)

* Thoroughfare Gap, Va. (cell phone tower)

* The Wilderness, Va. (Walmart)

Source: Civil War Preservation Trust

The list of 15 at-risk sites include a Knoxville battlefield with development issues and a few such as the Resaca Battlefield where preservation funding has slowed to a trickle or been stopped altogether.

Matt Nodine, chief of staff for the Federal Communications Commission wireless division, said the Missionary Ridge cell tower was already in the early stages of construction when preservation groups challenged its permit.

When the FCC reviewed the documentation, the board found the permit was not valid, stopped construction and asked the tower company to resubmit is proposal. In the latest action, the company filed an appeal with the FCC, asking commissioners to reconsider the ruling, he said.

Mr. Nodine said earlier this week that he was traveling and did not have available information about a tower near McLemore's Cove.

Mr. Ogden said the towers would detract from visitors' experience, adding that McLemore's Cove "maintains a lot of the character" of the way the land was during the Civil War battle. He said visitors need to be able to see the land as the commanding officers did to understand the troop movements.

Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association, said that, even without cell towers and construction, all the parks are in danger due to state cutback in staffing.

"No battlefield, no matter how old it is, is getting the care it needs and it deserves," he said.

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