The National Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased to release “The Preservation Budget: Select Preservation Priorities for FY 2020 Appropriations.” This new report is designed to assist congressional staff and our preservation partners in appreciating—and advocating for—key federal programs that protect our nation’s legacy of historic resources and benefit all Americans.
The Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) is perhaps the most prominent such program. Preservationists have long advocated for the HPF, including funding for state and tribal historic preservation offices. These offices implement essential preservation programs on the ground, including evaluating the impacts of federal projects and reviewing tax credit projects. In FY 2018 and 2019, the HPF received record levels of funding. Most of this growth has gone to grant programs that are expanding the scope of preservation to better tell the story of all Americans, such as African American Civil Rights Grants and the revitalized historically black colleges and universities preservation program.
This year preservationists are supporting two new programs within the HPF:
- An enhanced Underrepresented Communities Civil Rights Program to include and build on the success of the African American Civil Rights program and better interpret and protect sites important to the civil rights of all Americans; and
- A new grant program for states and tribes to invest in 21st-century geographic information mapping systems. Such systems can ensure that historic resources are considered early in the planning process, both to better protect historic sites and to advance more efficient planning of infrastructure projects.
The report also recommends funding for key programs to steward historic and cultural resources on our public lands. Congress had made significant advances in funding programs to abate the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks, but more work is necessary, including securing dedicated funding as proposed in the bipartisan “Restore Our Parks Act.” We are also pleased to highlight programs of the Bureau of Land Management, steward of the largest and most diverse body of cultural, historical, and paleontological resources on federal lands.
The report covers other programs within the National Park Service, including cultural programs, national heritage areas, and international park affairs. It also highlights the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a key source of funding for the acquisition of historically significant lands. Finally, the report covers independent agencies that further our nation’s commitment to historic preservation, like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Each of the programs outlined has a significant impact on the stewardship of our remarkable historic resources in every state and congressional district throughout the country. At the same time, this report is not exhaustive; there are other accounts and programs throughout the federal government that help protect and steward historic and cultural resources. We encourage robust support for the programs identified in this report and hope that it may serve as a model for historic preservation program advocacy.
Interested in learning more? Join us for the “Making Sense of Congressional Appropriations” webinar today, March 7 at 3 p.m. EST.
Speakers will include:
In the coming weeks, we will be publishing individual two-pagers on programs identified in the Preservation Budget report to serve as resources for Capitol Hill advocacy.
Tom Cassidy is the vice president for government relations and policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.