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  • 12/01/2020 3:40 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Don't miss your chance to take advantage of ACRA's new benefit specifically for small firms: a mastermind group!

    This group will be customized to the attendees' needs, but will typically focus on goal setting, networking, and workshopping solutions to the common challenges that small CRM firms face. The mastermind will be twelve, 60-75 minute sessions, held in live online video chat (the attendees will work with the moderator to determine the specific schedule).

    When: Monthly, beginning January 2021.

    Where: Virtual, in real time.

    Instructor: Lauren Simonis

    Fee (Includes all digital materials and an additional 30 minutes for the first and last sessions for introductions, expectations, and close-out): $400

    This opportunity is only open to small firm membership levels, and there are only a few spaces left. Save your spot now!

    Join Mastermind Now

  • 11/30/2020 2:57 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The incoming of a new presidential administration often means that significant federal policy changes are expected. As President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris prepare to take office in January, they have assembled a team of highly qualified professionals and volunteers to help assist with the transition of administrations. Presidential transition teams work to build a policy agenda for the new administration, gather information about federal agencies, vet potential political appointees, and develop a management agenda.

    From looking at the way agencies implement Section 106 to supporting small businesses in the ongoing pandemic, the transition team will consider a number of policies and actions that could affect CRM firms. ACRA wants to ensure that CRM voices are heard in the discussions and has sent a letter to President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris addressing the issues most important to our members and the industry. View the full letter here, and let us know in the comments what issues you think the administration should address in the first few months.

  • 11/25/2020 3:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
    The Paycheck Protection Program loans may be over, but the Small Business Administration (SBA) is reminding business owners that if you are a small business, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can still apply for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

    For normal disaster loans, the funds can only be used for losses not covered by insurance or FEMA, or for business operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The COVID-19 EIDLs are a bit different. These loans can be used for working capital and normal operating expenses. The COVID-19 EIDL advance is no longer available, but the loans are - if your business and employees are still experiencing hardship, an EIDL loan is 

    ACRA previously did a comparison of the Paycheck Protection Program loans and EIDLs here, and you can get more information on the loan terms, eligibility, and application on the SBA website.

  • 11/24/2020 11:57 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    The political world has a parallel universe feel to it these days. In one universe, Joe Biden is filling out his White House staff and planning his policy priorities for once he takes the oath of office. In the other universe, President Trump and his administration are contesting the election results and charging towards a second term.

    In reality, President Trump’s paths for securing a second term have increasingly dwindled, as all 50 states and the District of Columbia prepare to certify the results of the election. On December 14, electors will meet in state capitols to cast their votes based on the popular vote winner of their state. Those votes will be formally counted at a joint session of Congress on January 6. Once a candidate reaches 270 electoral votes, the count is “deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President.” Two weeks later, the winning candidate is sworn in. Barring some unprecedented occurrence, that will be former Vice President Joe Biden.

    So what awaits the 46th President when he enters the Oval Office? His to-do list is long: dealing with a global pandemic, a weakened economy, tensions with foreign adversaries, the impacts of climate change, racial strife and much more. But his first task is nominating Cabinet members and hundreds of political appointees that will steer the alphabet soup of federal agencies for the next four years.

    Of most interest to ACRA members is Biden’s choice for Secretary of the Interior. The current thinking is that outgoing New Mexico Senator Tom Udall is the front-runner for the post, but Congressional Democrats are making a concerted push for one of their own, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, who would be the first Native American Cabinet member in U.S. history. Both Udall and Haaland have been proponents of cultural resource management and protection during their time in Congress.

    Beyond the Interior Secretary, an incoming President Biden will need to name heads of subagencies as well. Of particular interest to conservation advocates is the Bureau of Land Management, which lost nearly 70 percent of its D.C. staff during the Trump administration when its headquarters was moved to Colorado. As Ken Rait of the Pew Charitable Trusts, told The Hill newspaper, the outgoing administration “pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall, and someone needs to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” According to The Hill, front-runners for the head of BLM include Steve Ellis, a veteran of the Obama-era BLM, who backers think could bring stability to the agency.

    Once staff are in place, high on President-elect Biden’s to-do list is reversing numerous Trump administration executive orders and rules. It is not uncommon for new presidents to roll back executive actions their predecessor made; President Trump reversed many of former President Obama’s rules, for example. But the increasing use of executive orders and agency rulemaking to effect policy changes in recent years – a function of a gridlocked Congress which has frustrated many a president’s agenda – means that incoming administrations can make big changes quickly.

    One Trump administration rule that is sure to be in the Biden team’s sights is the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) reform of the National Environmental Policy Act, issued last summer. The rule dramatically reduces the scope of NEPA and decreases stakeholder input and public participation, all of which ACRA believes threatens the protection of our environmental and cultural resources. Because the changes were issued as a regulatory rule and not an executive order, a President Biden could not cancel them with a stroke of his pen on January 20; instead, a new rule will need to go through the regulatory process. That said, a Biden administration can get a head start on nullifying the NEPA rules by directing agencies not to update their internal guidelines based on the Trump rule.

    That approach will not necessarily work with the U.S. Forest Service, however, which last week issued a final rule amending its NEPA regulations that environmental advocates say weakens requirements for the Forest Service to study the potential environmental harm of new development and publicly share scientific analysis of proposed changes. ACRA expects that to be a major topic of interest for the incoming administration.

    Beyond personnel and rules changes, the incoming Biden administration hopes to secure Congressional approval for a large-scale infrastructure bill; during the campaign, Biden promised to push for more than $7 trillion to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, fight climate change and create jobs. Whether he will succeed depends in part on the January 5 special election in Georgia, where the state’s two GOP Senators face stiff challenges from Democratic candidates. If both Democrats win, the Senate will be tied 50-50, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. If either Republican wins, the GOP keeps control, and Biden’s big plans will need to be scaled back. Even if Democrats gain functional control of the Senate, securing enough votes for a major infrastructure bill will not be easy: conservatives worry about the price tag, while progressives believe Biden’s plans do not go far enough in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    No matter the prospects for a big infrastructure bill, it’s clear that Congressional Democrats will push these themes during the next Congress. Top Democratic staff on the House Natural Resources Committee shared with ACRA last week that climate change, diversity and equity, and job creation will be the three big prisms through which the Committee will address all policies ideas that come before it.

    All three of these issues have resonance within the CRM industry, and how Congress chooses to address them will impact the sector for years to come. Helping the economy recover, increasing diversity in the industry, and protecting our cultural heritage from environmental and climate threats are top priorities, no matter which party won the election.

  • 11/20/2020 2:44 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    So You Think You Need a PA...

    December 10, 2020 | 2:00 - 3:30 PM (EST) | Register Now

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is back for ACRA's final webinar of the year! Join us on December 10 at 2:00 pm EST for So You Think You Need a PA....

    Many federal land management units – including bases, campuses, buildings, forests, and parks – benefit from Section 106 Programmatic Agreements that establish efficiencies for routine projects and maintenance, repair, and operations activities. In this webinar, Program Analysts Katharine Kerr and Chris Daniel will identify the pros and cons of pursuing such a PA and provide practical advice to program managers on how to develop one.

    Space is limited, so register now to reserve your spot. As a reminder, ACRA members benefit from a firm-wide registration fee - once one person from a member firm registers, others can register for free. Contact us for information on subsequent registrations.

    Register Now

  • 11/19/2020 1:59 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Forest Service has published its final rule regarding regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). From the summary published in the Federal Register:

    The amendments in the final rule will increase efficiency in the Agency's environmental analysis and decision-making while meeting NEPA's requirements and fully honoring the Agency's environmental stewardship responsibilities. The final rule adds a Determination of NEPA Adequacy provision, which outlines a process for determining whether a previously completed Forest Service NEPA analysis can satisfy NEPA's requirements for a subsequently proposed action. The final rule also establishes six new CEs, consolidates two existing CEs into one, and expands two existing CEs. The six new CEs include activities related to recreation special uses, administrative sites, recreation sites, and restoration and resilience projects, along with two CEs for certain road management projects. Two existing CEs are consolidated into one covering clerical modification or reauthorization of existing special uses. The two expanded CEs cover (1) approval, modification, or continuation of special use authorizations on up to 20 acres of NFS lands and (2) decommissioning of both unauthorized roads and trails and National Forest System roads and trails. These CEs are described in greater detail in the comment responses below and in the document titled, “Supporting Statement: Categorical Exclusions For Certain Special Uses, Infrastructure, and Restoration Projects,” available at https://www.fs.fed.us/​emc/​nepa/​revisions/​index.shtml.

    You can view the full rule here. ACRA is analyzing the rule and will update this post with additional information on how CRM is affected.

  • 11/18/2020 4:08 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Thank you to those of you that have already completed the survey on individual experiences CRM practitioners have had concerning sexual harassment and gender equity. If you have not had a chance to complete the survey yet, time is running out - the survey closes in less than 2 weeks.

    We would be grateful if you would take the time to share your experiences with us. Your answers will help ACRA inform the creation of new initiatives as a part of our Health & Safety program. It should take approximately 20 minutes.

    The survey is completely anonymous and does not ask any questions that would compromise your identity. You may stop the survey at any time, and you may choose to answer only some of the questions. ACRA’s Executive Director is the only one with administrative access to the survey results. 

    The more data we collect, the better informed our programs will be. The deadline to complete the survey is Tuesday, December 1. Thank you in advance for your participation. If you have already completed the survey, please take a moment to share the survey with colleagues in your network.

    Share Your Experience Now

  • 11/18/2020 10:18 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As we head into the holiday season, we wanted to remind you that all employees of ACRA member firms can get fantastic discounts on all the gifts they need during the holiday season - just by being an ACRA member!

    The ACRA Savings Marketplace can save you money on gifts and more.

    There are currently over 470 different brands offering deals on the Marketplace, including some of the brands you use often. Brands include:

    • Adidas
    • Amazon
    • Ace Hardware
    • Banana Republic
    • Brooks Brothers
    • Canon
    • Chewy.com
    • Columbia
    • Costco
    • Dell
    • Disney (including Disney+)
    • Fabletics
    • Graco
    • HP
    • Harry & David
    • Home Depot
    • Honest Company
    • Kay Jewelers
    • Kohl's
    • Lenovo
    • New Balance
    • Nike
    • Oakley
    • Otterbox
    • Rosetta Stone
    • Samsung
    • Target
    • T-Mobile
    • Ulta
    • Verizon

    The deals change on a weekly basis, so keep coming back to the marketplace for more ways to save!

    This member benefit doesn’t just help those in leadership positions save money – ANYONE who works at an ACRA member firm can use the Savings Marketplace, including non-CRM employees. Large companies often have benefits like this for their employees, but as many CRM firms are small businesses, this type of program in not financially feasible to offer.

    Make sure you employees and coworkers are aware of their option for saving on the holiday shopping - share the ACRA Savings Marketplace now!

  • 11/16/2020 5:12 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If you missed last week's webinar on aerial archaeology, it is now available on demand for you to watch on your own schedule!

    Today, with a light aircraft, high resolution cameras, and a thorough survey protocol, huge landscapes can be covered in a matter of hours with photographs capturing both quantitative data and relevant qualitative information about context, scale and character. The qualitative aspects of narrative photography not only add context to important data at the site, but in an increasingly visual culture, artistic and narrative photography provides a hook to draw people into the story of important landscape research.

    The operational, technological, regulatory, and economic differences between aerial platforms and software available to process imagery are changing rapidly and deserve careful attention when considering project design for survey and imaging of project sites. Aerial Archaeology, Then and Now gives attendees specific knowledge of the state of aerial imaging technology today and detailed options for its deployment in the service of archaeological research/documentation/communications.

    The webinar addresses project design and provider selection, and will also discuss costs, regulatory issues, resolution at different altitudes and speeds, and general pros and cons of the technology.

    As with the live session, this webinar is available to ACRA members at a discounted price. Members can get the discount code to access the presentation here.

    Watch Aerial Archaeology, Then and Now

  • 11/13/2020 2:20 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We wanted to quickly remind you that if you have a great idea for a webinar for CRM professionals, we want to hear it! The call for 2021 ACRA webinar sessions closes in one week.

    ACRA webinars cover a range of topics, from the technical aspects of cultural resource management to expanding general business skills and knowledge. Timely topics, such as sessions addressing diversity & inclusion or improving technology use during the pandemic, are particularly encouraged.

    Our webinar series also offers the opportunity to make a little extra money through our honorarium and revenue sharing program. You can view the detailed requirements in the Request for Proposal here. Proposals are due on November 20, 2020.

    Get paid for sharing your expertise - share your ideas with us by November 20!

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