Commonwealth Journal

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October 26, 2012

Mill Springs Battlefield closing in on national park status

Somerset —  

The Mill Springs Battlefield may be one step closer to gaining its stripes on the national park scene. 
Former Mill Springs Battlefield Association president Bill Neikirk, along with the association’s newest chairman, Dr. Bruce Burkett, appeared before Pulaski Fiscal Court Tuesday to ask that the county invest in a federal national parks study as part of the effort to include Mill Springs in the U.S. National Parks system. 
“We’re one step closer to becoming a national park,” Neikirk said. 
The association’s efforts to include Mill Springs, located in western Pulaski County, on the U.S. National Parks map has been an ongoing process. 
It was announced in January that Somerset’s Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers had introduced binding legislation directing the National Park Service to conduct a study that would evaluate the potential for bringing the Mill Springs Battlefield into the national park system.
Neikirk said there’s no opposition to the bill, and he said the association has received word that the government would be willing to conduct the survey in the coming months — most likely in winter, since surveys are usually conducted when the leaves are off the trees, thus providing the most visibility. 
The survey would consider the economic and educational impacts that incorporating Mill Springs would have on surrounding communities, impact to landowners, and cost of federal government operation.
“What this does is puts us on the official map,” said Neikirk. 
The cost of the study would be around $20,000 — which Neikirk said is a necessary cost to ensure the battlefield association can move forward in its bid to become a national park. 
“You feel confident that we can get into the park districts if we do this?” asked Fourth District Magistrate Glenn Maxey. 
“I wouldn’t be asking for the money if ... yes, absolutely,” Neikirk answered confidently. 

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