On the Hill: Re-Authorization of the HPF, BLM Planning Tool Comments

By Forum Online posted 04-21-2016 16:31


With contributions from Tom Cassidy, vice president for Government Relations and Adam Jones, associate director for Government Relations and Policy.

Every quarter we’ll bring you the latest information related to historic preservation and public policy. In this dispatch we have an update on the re-authorization of the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), an opportunity for comments on the revision of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning tool, and a list of testimony recently submitted by the National Trust.

 Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

Re-Authorization of the Historic Preservation Fund

On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012), a broad bipartisan bill that would update the nation’s energy programs and provide permanent authorization of both the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The HPF is funded through proceeds from oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf and is the principal source of federal funding for the nation’s preservation programs through partnerships with states, tribes, and nonprofit entities to preserve and restore our nation’s cultural resources. Created in 1976 the HPF has an annual authorization of $150 million, though funding has consistently fallen well short of that level. Congress has traditionally authorized the HPF for 10-year periods, with the most recent authorization having lapsed on September 30 of last year.

For fiscal year 2017, President Obama has requested a total of $87.4 million in HPF funding, including approximately $47 million for State Historic Preservation Officers, $12 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, $25 million for competitive grants to preserve the sites and stories of the Civil Rights movement, $3 million for grants to historically black colleges and universities, and $500,000 in competitive grants for the survey and nomination of properties associated with communities currently underrepresented in the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks. Congress is currently considering FY17 funding levels.

The Senate’s passage of S.2012 is a major step forward in efforts to re-authorize the HPF, which now awaits action in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ohio Congressman Michael Turner and Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, co-chairs of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus, have introduced the National Historic Preservation Amendments Act (H.R.2817), a bill that would re-authorize the HPF for 10 years, which has received strong bipartisan support. In February, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R.2817, with participating members of Congress expressing their support. As of now, the bill has 50 cosponsors.

More action is needed. Please contact your local members of Congress and urge them to support and co-sponsor H.R.2817.

BLM Planning Tool Comment Period Ends May 24

The BLM is now revising the Draft Planning Rule that establishes the process for developing, revising, or amending its Resource Management Plans.

BLM manages lands that contain the largest, most diverse, and most scientifically important body of cultural resources of any federal land-managing agency. BLM is responsible for managing over 250 million surface areas and over 750 million acres of subsurface mineral resources, which contain important cultural landscapes and well over a million cultural sites, including historic and archeological ones.

The National Trust is deeply engaged in the effort to revise BLM’s planning rule, but if we are to succeed in ensuring that the rule sufficiently addresses cultural resources, it is critically important that BLM hear from as many voices within our community as possible.

We encourage those with an interest in historic preservation and cultural resource management on public lands to join this effort and submit comments to BLM. Comments should include relevant experiences or examples to illustrate key points.

The deadline for submitting comments is Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

More information about the process can be found here or through these resources listed below:

  • Talking points
  • NTHP draft comment letter
  • NTHP Scoping Comments from 2015

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tom Cassidy, vice president for Government Relations, tcassidy[at]savingplaces.org or Amy Cole, senior field officer/attorney, Western Field Offices at acole[at]savingplaces.org.

Recent National Trust Testimony

In this last quarter the National Trust has submitted identical House (March 23) and Senate (April 20) testimony to the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Committee in support of the HPF, National Park Service (Maintenance, Historic Leasing, Visitor Services, Construction, National Heritage Areas, Centennial Challenge), and BLM (Cultural Resource Management, National Landscape Conservation System, Land and Water Conservation Fund).

On March 17 the National Trust submitted testimony in support of the Civil Rights Network and the creation of the Sewall-Belmont House National Historic Site, which was recently announced as a new National Park Service Unit.

#PublicLands #Advocacy #BLM #testimony

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