In his introduction to the spring 2014 issue of the Forum Journal
former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wrote, “Throughout our nation’s complex history, one aspect has always remained clear and consistent—there are many faces of America. As a country of immigrants, this diversity has and will continue to lend great strength to our nation. However, we must not forget that a strong America is one that is inclusive as well as diverse.”
In recognition of these many faces of America, the National Park Service (NPS) has launched a series of heritage initiatives that explore the ways in which the legacy of underrepresented groups can be recognized, preserved and interpreted for future generations. One of these initiatives is a competitive grant program funded through the Historic Preservation Fund, which will provide grants to state historic preservation offices to assist in efforts to broaden the inclusion of underrepresented communities in statewide inventories of historic properties and the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks. The NPS expects to award 20 to 50 competitive grants this year, ranging from $25,000 to $75,000.
Currently 86,000 sites are included in the National Register of Historic Places, with approximately 1,600 nominations received annually. However, current estimates place the combined representation of African-American, American Latino, Asian-American, American Indian, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian sites on the National Register and among National Historic Landmarks at less than 8 percent of the total listings, according to budget documents prepared by the National Park Service.
The FY14 budget includes $500,000 for this grant program, representing an important first step to address the imbalance of current National Register listings. Preservation advocates have been working with Congressman Jim Moran, the ranking Democrat on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and our House champion, to secure higher levels of funding for this new program. This higher level will ensure that the stories of all Americans and the full spectrum of the nation’s cultural heritage are preserved in our official list of historic places. For more information about the program, which closes June 30th, visit achp.gov/news-grant-program.html
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