• 01/28/2020 1:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Trump Administration is proposing dramatic changes to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that will affect cultural resources. The proposed changes would reduce public input, place arbitrary timelines on the environmental review process, and exempt an array of projects from any review at all. The Coalition for American Heritage, of which ACRA is a founding member, is hosting a FREE webinar to give you a better look into the proposed NEPA changes and their impact on cultural resources.

    Join Coalition staff for on February 10 at 2:00 PM EST for What You Need to Know about the Administration's Proposed NEPA Changes. Attendees will get an overview of the proposed changes and how they could impact CRM work. You will also learn how you can make your voice heard during the public comment process, from communicating with Congress and the Administration to discussing the issue with your colleagues and community.

    These changes could potentially affect the work you do every day - register now to stay informed!

    Register Now: What You Need to
    Know about the Administration's
    Proposed NEPA Changes

  • 01/24/2020 4:33 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Readers can now find relevant news items compiled all in one place! In our CRM Firms in the News series, we feature recent mentions of ACRA member firms and their projects across the country. Was your firm recently featured in a news article or on social media? Send it to us to be included in our next volume of the series!

    • Applied Archaeology and Associates has monitoring construction sites in Annapolis for archaeological finds, and recently they came across a 19th-century ice well. Read about the significance of the find in the Capital Gazette.
    • A.D. Marble recovered over 1,000 artifacts during a recent survey of an 1800s-era farm in Delaware. Learn more about their findings and why the site is ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places in the Cape Gazette.
    • In 2019 ACRA member firm Desert Archaeology, Inc. worked on a project at the prehistoric site Los Pozos in Arizona. Read how their dig has helped reveal new information about maize farming in the region in this excerpt from American Archaeology Magazine.
    • New South Associates, Inc. is working with MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL to search for a forgotten African-American cemetery, Read more about the search for Port Tampa Cemetery in the Tampa Bay Times.
    • ACRA member firms Desert Archaeology, Inc. and Logan Simpson were among those approved for on-call archaeological services in Scottsdale, AZ. Congratulations to these firms, and read more about the contracts and potential projects in the Scottsdale Independent.
    • Public Archaeology Lab has been working stakeholders in Somerset, MA to designate a portion of the town as a National Historic District. Read more about Somerset Village, its period architecture, and its history in this piece from South Coast Today.
    • Rising sea levels are affecting archaeological sites on both coasts - you can learn more about how Dovetail Cultural Resource Group is working with the Virginia Department of Historic Preservation to assess sites in Virginia Beach, including the creation of a predictive model in both the Virginian Pilot and Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

  • 01/22/2020 4:16 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has just announced that they have adopted a new strategic plan. From the ACHP press release: 

    The ACHP is proud to announce the December 5, 2019, adoption of a new strategic plan. Previous versions were adopted in 2011 and updated in 2014.

    The ACHP receives direction from the Office of Management and Budget which states: “The Strategic Plan...presents the long-term objectives an agency hopes to accomplish at the beginning of each new term of an Administration by describing general and long-term goals the agency aims to achieve, what actions the agency will take to realize those goals, and how the agency will deal with challenges and risks that may hinder achieving results.”

    The updated strategic plan offers a new vision statement and cross cutting objective, and reinforces the agency’s desire to expand efficiencies in review of federal projects under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

    The draft strategic plan was made available for public comment in the summer of 2019. In August ACRA submitted a substantive, 7-page letter, that urged the agency to showcase best practices, expand its relationship with tribes, utilize new technology to assist in project planning, and more. These comments were crafted with the direct input of the ACRA Government Relations Committee and other members.

    ACRA is still reviewing the final strategic plan to determine exactly how it will affect the way that CRM firms handle projects, and we will follow up with this information in another post shortly. In the meantime, take a look at the new strategic plan here, and you can review the full press release and additional information from the ACHP on their website.

  • 01/17/2020 1:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) both require federal agencies to provide the public with information regarding the impacts of their projects on environmental and cultural resources and then engage the public regarding the minimization or mitigation of impacts to resources. The NEPA and Section 106 processes often run concurrently and occasionally, the NEPA process is substituted for the Section 106 Process.

    ACRA and the NAEP have joined forces to present Harnessing the Power of the People in NEPA and Section 106 Compliance on February 20 at 3:00 pm EST. This webinar will provide concrete examples of successful public engagement processes utilized by a variety of agencies including the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Air Force, and the Federal Transit Authority.

    Our expert panel, including a Section 106 expert, a NEPA expert, a representative of a Federal Agency, and a representative of the ACHP, will review how agencies can and have engaged the public during the NEPA and Section 106 processes to refine and enhance their projects. Attendees should walk away with a better understanding of the public participation process and with several examples of successful public interactions. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panel at the end of the presentation.

    Register now to reserve your spot!

    Register for Harnessing the Power of the People

  • 01/15/2020 4:41 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Representatives from 2019 Award Recipient Chelan County PUD No. 1

    The call for nominations for the 2020 ACRA Awards is now open! ACRA Awards recognize private and public sector clients of ACRA member firms for CRM accomplishments and commitments exceeding those required by various laws and regulations. ACRA Awards also recognize ACRA member firms or employees thereof who have made a long-term and on-going public service commitment to CRM.

    Firms with clients/projects in the San Antonio area are particularly encouraged to apply.

    The deadline for receipt of nominations is FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020, at 5:00 PM EDT. Awards will be presented during the ACRA Conference held from September 23‒27, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.

    Award Categories

    Industry Award-Private Sector: Presented to an ACRA firm’s private sector client who has demonstrated accomplishments and commitments above and beyond those required to meet laws and regulations pertaining to CRM. Recognition can be for completed single or multiple projects, or for an on-going commitment.

    Industry Award-Public Sector: Presented to an ACRA firm’s public sector client who has demonstrated accomplishments and commitments above and beyond those required to meet laws and regulations pertaining to CRM. Recognition can be for completed single or multiple projects, or for an on-going commitment.

    Public Service Award: Presented to an ACRA company, or current employee thereof, who has made a long-term contribution to the study, management, and/or preservation of cultural resources, or who has contributed volunteer efforts and resources for the betterment of their immediate community, county, state, etc. Contributions may include, but are not limited to, training students for CRM careers, internships, and the development and delivery of environmental, preservation, and interpretive programs.

    For more details, please review the Call for Nominations.

  • 01/08/2020 1:37 PM | ACRA Lobbying Team

    ACRA and its partners at the Coalition for American Heritage have released the following statement regarding the targeting of cultural sites as a part of military strategy:

    The Coalition for American Heritage and its founding organizations oppose any threat to destroy cultural sites as part of a military strategy. The Coalition includes more than 350,000 heritage professionals, scholars, small businesses, non-profit groups, and history-lovers from across the country who support and promote our nation’s commitment to historic preservation.

    The deliberate targeting of cultural sites for destruction violates international law, except under the narrowest of circumstances, and robs humanity of our global patrimony. Through our participation in international agreements, America has recognized the universal value of preserving cultural sites around the world. We urge the current administration to affirm our country’s commitment to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the United National Security Council Resolution 2347, and the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

    Please contact your members of Congress to express the importance of America’s commitment to historic preservation both at home and abroad and encourage them to speak out against the purposeful targeting of cultural sites.

    The Coalition for American Heritage makes it easy to take action on this and many more issues important to historic preservation. Contacting your legislators takes just seconds - please visit our action alert to make your voice heard now.

    Take Action NOW

  • 01/07/2020 4:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If you didn't complete ACRA's survey on organizational policies concerning gender equity, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace, there is still time to do so!

    The overall goal is to tie existing information about reported harassment to longer term goals for equity and to emerging policies that help develop inclusive corporate cultures. ACRA will use the data in this survey to inform its future programs and resources for members. The results will also be summarized in a Society for American Archaeology presentation on equity and harassment in workplaces.

    Please take 10 minutes to complete this survey (or send it to someone in your company who can). Both ACRA members and non-members alike are eligible to respond. The survey is meant to be completed by one individual per organization. Any identifying data provided, such as company names or organizational charts, will be kept confidential and will be removed from any survey reports or programs developed by ACRA.

  • 12/20/2019 2:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    THREE Questions is a new blog series highlighting ACRA member firms and their experiences in the CRM industry.

    ABOUT OUR MEMBER: Jessica Yaquinto is the Founder and Principal Investigator of Living Heritage Anthropology, LLC and President/CEO of the 501c3 non-profit Living Heritage Research Council, both based on Cortez, Colorado. She has been a cultural anthropologist and ethnographer primarily in the Greater Southwest and Great Basin for the past 13 years. Her past work includes numerous ethnographic and tribal consultation projects with more than 55 tribes, including projects funded by a variety of tribal, local, state, federal. and private entities. Jessica specializes in ethnographic overviews, Cultural Resource Management (CRM), cultural landscape studies, Traditional Cultural Property studies, Community-Based Participatory Research and Collaborative Ethnography, and ethnohistories. As a member of the ACRA Board of Directors, she holds the Small Firm Designated Board Seat.

    When engaging a general audience, what stands out as the one thing people are most surprised to learn about your company or the CRM industry?

    JY: Mostly people are surprised that working with tribes/traditional communities to preserve their heritage is a profession, period. I'd say that's a surprise for people both in and out of CRM. Living Heritage Anthropology only focuses on ethnographic research and tribal consultation assistance and we are all cultural anthropologists by training. Even with our cultural anthropology/ethnography focus, CRM colleagues, even those I have worked with for a long time, will regularly introduce me to others as an archaeologist. So we tend to surprise people in general I guess!

    As far as the general public just learning that tribes still exist unfortunately is often a surprising point for people. Similarly another big surprise for clients is that funding needs to be included for paying for tribal representatives' time and expenses on projects. We would never ask a consultant in any other field to volunteer, so I'm not sure why people expect cultural consultants to work for free.

    Do you have a favorite piece of personal experience that is your “go-to” for engaging clients and/or the public as to why CRM work is important?

    JY: As an ethnographic/tribal consultation focused company the vast majority of our clients are from within the CRM world. Therefore, I find myself mostly advocating for tribal/community engagement (both ethnographic research and tribal consultation) within CRM rather than for CRM in general. Often this involves reminding clients that they are not meeting their NHPA requirements if they are not considering Traditional Cultural Properties and the only ways to identify TCPs are through ethnographic research, tribal consultation, or tribal monitors. TCPs by definition have to come from the community itself.

    For both the public and clients though I think there is no better way for them to see the importance of CRM than to hear about in from the associated communities itself. Bringing a tribe or associated community to the table in much more impactful than anything I could say. This is one of the main reasons I co-host the Heritage Voices podcast on the Archaeology Podcast Network. That way people can hear directly from community members about their experiences with CRM, Anthropology, and Land Management. When you can hear the emotion in someone's voice, that's powerful.

    We all know that most CRM staff believe in what we do, but how do you engage those under you in the business aspects of your firm? Do you find that an increased awareness of the challenges of running a business is related to professional satisfaction, employee retention, and/or project success?

    JY: Living Heritage Anthropology is a very small company, so by extension everyone has been naturally engaged and interested in the business aspects because they affect everyone more directly. As a result, I do think that everyone is more engaged and personally invested. There's very much a sense of all coming together to build something together. Or in other words there's an understanding that we have to keep the ship running smoothly in order to serve the associated communities and our clients. So it'll be interesting to try to maintain that aspect as we continue to grow.

  • 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.

  • 12/17/2019 12:45 PM | ACRA Lobbying Team

    The House of Representatives has passed the Tribal Coastal Resiliency Act (H.R. 729), which would help protect the cultural and environmental resources of tribes living in coastal areas if enacted into law. The bill authorizes the Commerce Department grants to Indian tribes for meeting various tribal environmental and cultural coastal zone goals.

    From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

    Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., whose district includes the Olympic Peninsula, argued that help is needed -- now.

    "Our region has seen severe storms and rising sea levels threaten communities," Kilmer said. "We've seen homes and community centers in Taholah face water damage. We've seen the Quileute Tribal School in La Push be in the cross hairs of a rising ocean. We've seen coastal challenges threaten public safety, public access and cultural landmarks for the tribes and others, including Hoh and Makahs."

    In a bizarre scene on Tuesday, Arizona's Republican Rep. Debbie Leska argued that the coastal protection legislation was not needed. She represents a district consisting of Phoenix suburbs and the Sonoran desert. But 34 GOP House members backed the bill. Kilmer had two senior Republicans as co-sponsors, Reps. Don Young of Alaska and Tom Cole of Oklahoma. Cole is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

    Click here to read the full article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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