Historic Funding for Preservation

12/18/2019 3:32 PM | ACRA Lobbying Team

This post originally appeared on the Coalition for American Heritage website.

Today, the Coalition for American Heritage is celebrating a victory for our advocacy on behalf of historic preservation. Congress is poised to pass legislation that will give preservation programs their highest-ever levels of funding. This success is the culmination of all the efforts our group and advocacy partners have made to meet with Members of Congress, send letters, and get involved in the political process.

The FY20 Interior appropriations bill includes record-high funding levels for key preservation programs, including $118.6 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, a $16 million increase over last year. State Historic Preservation Offices will receive an increase of $3 million over last year’s budget, and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices will receive an additional $2 million.

Congress gave crucial support to one of our top priorities, increasing the use of GIS mapping to identify cultural resources and improve permitting decisions. Funds for the Bureau of Land Management’s Cultural Resources Program will increase by $1.5 million, a total of $18.303 million. The additional money will go to updating the predictive modeling and data analysis capabilities of the National Cultural Resources Information Management System, which allows for better siting and planning decisions leading to more efficient project implementation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a key program for protecting historic sites, will receive $495 million – its highest funding level in 15 years. The bill also provides $21.944 million for National Heritage Areas, including a $1.6 million increase to fund newly authorized heritage areas.

Despite President Trump’s attempts to eliminate the national endowment programs, Congress awarded even higher funding levels to these valuable sources of grant monies. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will each receive $162.25 million, an increase of $7.25 million over last year and the largest increase for the national endowments in a decade.

The bill provides funds for National Park Service programs that tell the full American story, including several programs aimed at increasing diversity:

  • $15.5 million for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the African-American struggle for civil rights
  • $2.5 million to establish a new civil rights grant program to preserve and highlight the sites and stories associated with securing civil rights for all Americans, including women, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and LGBTQ Americans.
  • $750,000 for competitive grants to survey and nominate places associated with under-represented communities to the National Register and as National Historic Landmarks
  • $16 million for Save America’s Treasures, to preserve our nation’s most significant historic and cultural resources
  • $13 million for American Battlefield Protection Program grants
  • $10 million for grants to historically black colleges and universities
  • $7.5 million for competitive grants to revitalize historic properties of national, state and local significance
  • $1.907 million for Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Grants
  • $3.155 for Japanese Confinement Site Grants
  • $1.903 for International Park Affairs.

This legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, just days before the latest continuing resolution to fund the federal government was set to lapse. Next, the Senate is expected to pass the legislation and send it to the President for his signature. Once the President signs the bill, a government shutdown will be averted. These funding levels will remain in place for the duration of FY 20, until September 30th of next year.

The Coalition for American Heritage thanks Congress for this strong statement in support of preservation efforts across America.

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