• 10/20/2020 5:26 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA member firm Mead & Hunt is undertaking a project for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) that will focus on project-level Programmatic Agreements (PAs) and Post-World War II (postwar) commercial property types (NCHRP Project 25-62). The project has two main goals:

    1. Review current and best practices for project-level PAs to develop strategies that enable state DOTs to streamline Section 106 responsibilities and decision-making.
    2. Develop a structured, replicable methodology for developing historic contexts, conducting surveys, and completing National Register evaluations for postwar commercial properties built from 1945 to 1980.

    Mead & Hunt is requesting your input through two online surveys, which will help them better understand these issues. Links to both surveys are provided below. The surveys should take 15-20 minutes to complete and the deadline is October 31:

    Programmatic Agreements

    Postwar Commercial Properties 

    For information about this project can be found here

    What is NCHRP? For more information, please visit the Transportation Research Board website.

    Thanks in advance for your input!

  • 10/19/2020 4:59 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Many of us struggle to find affordable healthcare for ourselves, our families, and our employees, but as many of you know, we now have our own option for you to consider. We have partnered with SALA (an industry trade association for organizations like ours) to offer an exciting healthcare solution for your firms and your employees - one that even temporary/seasonal employees and students are eligible for.

    The ACRA Healthcare Program has several components to choose from to customize your healthcare. When each component is brought together, the result is a unique and affordable option for your healthcare.

    The ACRA Healthcare Program is available for ACRA member firms and their employees. Whether you are a small firm that cannot afford to offer insurance to employees or a large company looking to provide benefits to seasonal staff, this program is available to all member firms and their employees at no additional cost.

    We are holding two informational webinars for both members and prospective members to learn more about how the program works: 

    If you are from an ACRA member firm, please encourage your employees to join!

    To find out more about the program, please visit our website, review the information listed, watch the videos, and reach out to our partners at SALA for more information!


    Program Not Available in VT, AK, WA, IL, NY

  • 10/16/2020 4:32 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Owning a small business can be tough.

    Especially if you feel you have to solve every problem yourself.

    But what if you could reach out to other people who have faced similar challenges? What if you could meet with other smart people to face problems and challenges together?

    A mastermind group can help you do just that. In a mastermind, people lean on each other, give advice, and share connections. Small business owners, in particular, can benefit from this type of peer-to-peer mentoring.

    ACRA is pleased to offer a mastermind group to help our small business members with goal setting, strategic planning, and accountability.

    When: Monthly, beginning January 2021.
    Where: Virtual, in real time.
    Instructor: Lauren Simonis

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

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

    The mastermind group is limited to 7 participants, and is only open to small firm membership levels. Save your space NOW!

    Join the ACRA Mastermind Group

  • 10/15/2020 4:57 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Do you have a great idea for a webinar for CRM professionals? Do you have a presentation you give regularly that you think would be great for a larger audience? If so, we want to hear your proposals - the call for 2021 ACRA webinar sessions is now open!

    We are looking for expert providers to submit applications for online learning opportunities that will be offered on a regular schedule to ACRA members and to the public. We hope to offer a range of topics for sessions, from the technical aspects of cultural resource management to expanding general business skills and knowledge.

    ACRA's 2021 online learning program continues the revenue sharing program in addition to the traditional honorarium. You can view the detailed requirements in the Request for Proposal here. Proposals are due on November 20, 2020.

    You can help shape ACRA's continuing education program and bring your ideas to a larger audience - share your ideas with us by November 20!

  • 10/15/2020 12:42 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is accepting public comments on its Draft Programmatic Agreement for the Corps’ operations, navigation and shore protection programs in Florida.

    The Programmatic Agreement (PA) establishes the process the Corps will follow for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservations Act (54 U.S.C. § 306108), which ensures the Corps’ decision on carrying out an undertaking associated with the operations, navigation and shore protection programs in Florida. Comments received will inform the Corps’ proposed review of effects to historic properties, the views of others regarding those effects, and the proposed actions to be taken under the PA for compliance.

    Please submit comments by Nov. 12, 2020 to Ryan.Clark@usace.army.mil.

    The PA is between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida State Historic Preservation Office, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Office of Renewable Energy and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and other interested parties.

    The PA is the product of multiple consultations with the Corps’ federal, tribal, and state partners and is intended to address the normal Section 106 review process, create program-wide allowances for undertakings not requiring additional Section 106 consultation, and in some cases, deferring the evaluation of historic properties and potential effects to historic properties arising from the Corps’ operations, navigation and shore protection programs in Florida until a project is in the pre-construction, engineering and design phase.

    To view the document, visit https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/15877.

  • 10/13/2020 4:18 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    On October 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of the Treasury announced new guidance that simplifies the forgiveness process for businesses that received small loans as a part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Now, businesses that received $50,000 or less are able to self-certify that they used the money appropriately and receive complete forgiveness.

    This guidance is especially important for small CRM firms that may have received these loans. Borrowers still need to provide documentation such as a payroll provider report, but the new form is much simpler. Additionally, the requirement for showing that the borrower did not reduce head count or salaries has also been removed. Previously such a reduction would have resulted in a reduction of loan forgiveness.

    There continue to be questions concerning deducting expenses used with PPP funds. From Forbes:

    The main outstanding issue is the deductibility of expenses used with PPP funds. While the original CARES Act creating the PPP program made clear that once the loan is forgiven and becomes a grant, the funds are NOT income and not taxable as such. However, the Internal Revenue Service then issued guidance (Notice 2020-32) on April 30, 2020, stating that expenses normally deductible for a business CANNOT be taken if used with PPP money. Again, every lender and business advocacy group has been lobbying against this and have been hoping to see a fix in the new stimulus bill.

    The main argument against this rule was simply one of fairness: if the intent was a grant, why create a new tax burden on these businesses the government was trying to bail out? The IRS rationale, however, was the businesses should not be allowed to “double dip” by both getting tax-free government money and taking these deductions. Again, the IRS is alone in that assessment.

    More important, the rule created a grey area many businesses are now facing. Prior to forgiveness, PPP is a loan and remains one until forgiveness is received. As lenders have 60 days to review forgiveness applications and the SBA 90 days, most borrowers won’t receive a forgiveness decision until Q1 or Q2 of 2021, if then, with the likely backlogs to come. So, the question becomes, do borrowers take the deductions now and amend their tax returns upon full or partial forgiveness, or not take the deduction and receive a refund if all or part of their PPP loan is not forgiven? And, what of any potential penalties and interest?

    Check out the full Forbes article here. You can view the full interim rule here, and stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for additional information on CRM-specific pandemic news.

  • 10/13/2020 1:18 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA member Wade Catts of South River Heritage Consulting will be presenting at 8th Dennis Farm Annual Symposium on Friday, October 16 at 1:00 pm. This free virtual event celebrates the 270th Birthday of Dennis Family ancestor Prince Perkins, the free African American man who first purchased and founded the farm in Susquehanna County.

    A full list of speakers is available below, and you can register for the FREE 2020 online symposium here. For more information on the Dennis Farm, go to https://thedennisfarm.org/.

  • 10/09/2020 3:56 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post was submitted by Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc. and originally appears on their blog.

    On August 26, Kimball Banks, [Metcalf's] Director of Strategic Development and Government Relations joined a panel of cultural resource management professionals for a webinar hosted by the Society of American Archaeologists (SAA) to discuss tips for starting a career in CRM. The webinar came about because of the possible uncertainty in the job market in the future. It is vital current professionals foster these discussions with the next generation to keep CRM moving forward. Some of the key takeaways included:

    Network, network, network

    • Like all professions, CRM is not just about what you know, but who you know. 2020 has meant rethinking how we network but there are still plenty of opportunities to attend virtual conferences and webinars, seek out mentors, and interact with organizations you might be interested in working with in the future.

    Skills to sharpen

    • Probably the most important skill you can develop is technical writing. This ranges from cover letters and resumes to technical reports and proposals. You will find that developing your skill in technical writing is a life-long process.
    • You should also consider a basic business class and project management skills. “Management” is, after all, a big part of successful CRM work and being able to manage project timelines and budgets will help give you an edge when it comes to applying for jobs.
    • Develop a specialty: GIS, geoarchaeology, geoprospecting, aerial photography, or 3D imagery are all high-demand specialties in the CRM industry. Specializing in an additional skill set can make you a more competitive applicant to potential employers.

    Professional Qualifications

    • According to the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standard and those of most states to be a Principal Investigator requires a master’s degree or higher and several years of field experience. Some colleges and universities also offer specialized certifications or master’s degrees specifically in cultural resource management.
    • You can learn more about common requirements using the O*NET (Occupational Network), the U.S. Department of Labor’s description for archaeological work.

    Learn the law

    • CRM is guided by and responsive to various federal, state, and tribal laws. Clients will expect your expertise on those laws so knowing them is crucial. The most fundamental of them are the National Historical Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act

    Know your client

    • It is also important to understand the language of your clients and the challenges they experience in their industries. Understand what they do and where cultural resource management fits into their project and program needs. Industries that often work with CRM firms to comply with regulations include telecommunications, oil and gas, renewable energy, public lands, utilities, transportation and museums.

    Where to find a job

    The future of cultural resource management

    • The industry continues to work to become more inclusive for women and minorities. Archaeology helps us understand the past and that understanding is shaped by the archaeologists themselves. By creating more opportunities for diverse perspectives in the field we can enrich the interpretations we are able to share with the public.
    • Cultural resource management is guided by congressional policies and the current administration. Each administration has the potential to tighten or repeal the laws that protect cultural and environmental resources.
    • Technical specialization continues to become more and more important as the technology available to archaeologists for locating, evaluating, and mitigating sites becomes more advanced. As mentioned above, certifications in GIS, geoarchaeology, geoprospecting, aerial photography and 3D imaging are becoming critical to cultural resource management.
    • Cultural resource management goes beyond the field. Sharing what we discover with the public is critical to understanding the value of the resources. New opportunities heritage experiences and interpretation are also developing in the cultural resource management industry.
  • 10/07/2020 2:38 PM | Mason Miller

    This coming Friday (10/9/2020) and Saturday (10/10/2020), come join a free, public, online symposium discussing cemetery archeological excavations and investigations at the City of Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery Chapel in particular.

    The two-day event includes 12 individual panel sessions with dozens of speakers covering topics from the Oakwood Chapel cemetery excavation project, to excavations across the south, to DNA analysis, to public engagement and commemoration. Among the panelists and speakers are representatives of several ACRA member firms: Acacia Heritage Consulting, AmaTerra Environmental, Inc., Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc., DP Heritage Consulting, and New South Associates. (I think that's everyone... If I missed someone, I do apologize).

    The online symposium runs from 3-8 PM (CST) on Friday, October 9th and continues on Saturday, October 10th from 12-5 PM (CST). It’d be great to have you stop by and check out the proceedings from the comfort of your computers. To learn more about the symposium and to register (it’s FREE!), Click Here!

  • 10/07/2020 2:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As a part of our partnership with NAEP, ACRA members are eligible to receive the member price for NAEP webinars. See below for information on an upcoming webinar on NEPA policy, and access the discount code here.

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions Thresholds: A Cautionary Tale from California

    Presented by Michael Hendrix, Jennifer Reed, & Rich Walter

    Moderated by Laura Thorne

    October 8, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM PT

    Register Now

    Environmental review of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California has evolved since 2010, when GHG emissions analysis was first incorporated into the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Court cases and improved threshold methodologies have shaped the current landscape, yet the absence of consistent guidance from agencies and the threat of legal challenges test Lead Agencies’ ability to meet increasingly aggressive statewide goals and local/regional climate action plans. The California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) Climate Change Committee has developed proposed solutions in a forthcoming white paper. This panel will discuss the evolution of GHG emissions analysis in CEQA and provide solutions.

Become an ACRA member to get exclusive benefits including vendor discounts, premium access to online learning opportunities, and much more.

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