“That is the goal of the [MSBA],” said McKinney. “Put the organization on sound physical footing and do the things necessary [to reach national park status].”
Thousands of people, both local and otherwise, have visited the local historic site.
Rogers reintroduced binding legislation (H.R. 298) that asks the National Park Service to conduct a study to evaluate incorporating the battlefield into the national park system. If approved by Congress, the federally-led analysis would consider the economic and educational impacts that inclusion of Mill Springs would have on surrounding communities, impact to landowners, and cost of federal government operation.
If the legislation passes in the House of Representatives, it’ll then go before the Senate, and then to President Barack Obama’s desk.
McKinney said achieving national park status is more difficult now than it was before 2008, thanks to an economy that forced the government to significantly reduce funding for national park projects.
“We have to tailor our operations to be efficient and to have a high educational value and to aid tourism in both Pulaski and Wayne counties,” McKinney said. “ ... We have to have our feet in the door.
“We need businesses, industries and families to support the Mill Springs Battlefield Association because we are not receiving federal funds right now.”
Currently, the Mill Springs Battlefield is being preserved and maintained through private sources. That includes some backing from Pulaski County government.
“The county support for this organization has been absolutely fabulous,” said McKinney. “The county judge-executive (Barty Bullock) has been a wonderful asset, and the kind of support we get from the county is very highly appreciated.”
Previously, Rogers had secured more than $1.35 million in federal funding to enhance the visitor experience at Mill Springs.
If the battlefield achieves national park status — something McKinney says could take anywhere from two to seven years once Obama signs off on the bill — they’ll receive federal funding, which would relieve the county of its own financial obligations.