• 08/16/2019 3:08 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    So often we go to a city for a conference or business meeting and spend our time three places: at the airport, in our hotel room, and in a conference room. We miss seeing the sites and soul of the host city, many of which have an incredibly rich and nuanced past. ACRA recognizes the need for a more robust visitation experience, and we strive to have outreach events at all of our conferences. For our 2019 conference in Spokane, the organizers have arranged several events to help you explore the city.

    • Thursday afternoon’s workshop includes a walking tour of a historic hydroelectric facility in downtown Spokane as well as exploring one of many wonderful cafes in the area for refreshments
    • Friday’s presentations commence with a ceremony from a Spokane tribal leader to welcome all to the area
    • The slate of sessions begins with a narrative on the prehistory and history of Spokane, including a presentation by The Historic Davenport staff on the multi-million dollar restoration of our historic venue; and
    • Saturday evening starts with a bus tour of Spokane with a presentation by local guides to highlight important area landmarks and concludes with our awards social at Barrister Winery, housed in a circa 1906 automobile warehouse.

    The full Schedule at a Glance, inclusive of sessions and events, can be found here.

    The 2019 ACRA Conference will be held October 23–27, 2019. Rooms for the reduced rate of $149.00 at our venue, The Historic Davenport, are going fast.

    This is the premier CRM event of the year and an incredible opportunity to come hear the latest on our industry and meet new business partners. Register today!


  • 08/14/2019 2:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Architectural historians: what hazards do you face besides leaning buildings? Now is your chance to make an impact and educate the broader CRM industry about the health and safety issues architectural historians face in the field!

    ACRA’s Health and Safety Committee is looking for new members to add some perspectives from the above-ground side of our business – archaeologists have their heads buried too deeply in the ground! Members of this committee work on developing best practices for industry safety, both in and out of the field. Chair (and incoming President-Elect!) Daniel Cassedy is committed to building a committee with cross-disciplinary representation to ensure that all ACRA members have a say in ACRA's health and safety initiatives.

    Getting involved with a committee is one of the best ways to maximize your ACRA membership. Please contact Dan Cassedy or comment below if you are interested in getting involved!


  • 08/08/2019 11:35 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As a part of our new 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.


    The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) will host the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Case Law Update webinar on Thursday, September 5, 2019.

    This webinar will review substantive National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) cases issued by United States Courts of Appeals in 2018. The implications of the decisions and relevance to NEPA practitioners will be explained.

    About the Speakers:

    Michael Smith
    Ph.D

    Michael is a Senior Environmental Practice Leader for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) with GEI Consultants in Sacramento, CA, at one of the nation's leading geotechnical, environmental, water resources, and ecological science and engineering firms. His current work focuses on providing project and program management, technical analysis and review, policy development and review, and training and education focused on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance for some of the nation's and California’s most complex and controversial projects. He frequently provides training and strategic advice for NEPA and related environmental compliance requirements as an adjunct faculty member at numerous educational institutions. He has served as a Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) headquarters Office of Water and Office of Federal Activities in Washington, DC.

    Pam Hudson
    Esq., Dep't of the Navy, Office of General Counsel

    P.E. Hudson, Esq. is the Counsel, Department of the Navy Office of General Counsel, at Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering and Civil Engineer Corps Officer School at Naval Base Ventura County, California. She has 17 years of NEPA experience and 34 years of federal agency experience. The focus of her practice is environmental law and planning, and specifically NEPA; she also develops and teaches courses involving NEPA, environmental planning and impact analysis, and environmental law, with a special emphasis on coastal and ocean resources, to federal employees. She has published 13 federal agency, academic, and peer-reviewed articles on environmental planning and impact assessment since 2013.


    ACRA members can join this webinar for the NAEP member price ($75) - click here for the discount code.

    To register and view more details, please visit the event website.


  • 08/07/2019 2:02 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    All 50 states in the US use hydroelectric power in one form or another. Has your firm worked on or wanted to bid on a hydroelectric relicensing project? Do you understand the nuances of the traditional vs. integrated licensing processes? How about the difference between a FERC Boundary and a traditional APE? What is a PAD and how is a Study Plan prepared for cultural and tribal resources? What is the ex parte process? 

    This year's conference workshop, Water Over the Dam: "WERC-shop” on Federal Hydroelectric Project Relicensing, will answer these questions and more, helping you understand the special procedures of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing. Held from 1:00 - 5:00 pm on Thursday, October 24 before the welcome reception, the WERCshop will provide background to firms unacquainted with the process and will explore several of the more complex topics for those more familiar with relicensing.

    The WERCshop may feature an expert panel composed of Industry Project Managers, Tribal representatives, CRM practitioners, and the Washington DC FERC archaeologist (pending federal budget approval!). Following the hydro relicensing roundtable, we will visit the beautiful Spokane Falls for a tour of Avista’s historic Post Street Substation in downtown Spokane.


    Lower Spokane Falls

    This workshop will provide you with the background and tools to conduct CRM studies for FERC relicensing. The workshop organizers will address/provide:

    • An overview of FERC licensing and relicensing
    • Discussion of the three FERC processes
    • An acronym list
    • A discussion of FERC’s scheduling requirements
    • Preparation of the Project Application Document (PAD)
    • Preparation of maps with FERC Boundary and/or APE
    • Tribal and Technical Working Group meetings
    • Creation of Study Plans
      • Cultural Resource Study Plans
      • Tribal Resources Study Plans
    • Study Plan Implementation
    • Technical Reports for Cultural Resources and Tribal Resources
    • Other types of reports that may be necessary.
    • Native American issues
    • Historic Properties Management Plan (HPMP) Development
    • When is the HPMP prepared? (Ex Parte considerations)
    • What is required?
    • What is FERC’s Review Process?
    • Who Prepares the EIS?
    • Ongoing consultation
    • Scheduling
    • HPMP Implementation
    • Where to get more information and a CD with useful documents

    Don't miss your chance to participate in this exciting opportunity - reserve your spot in the conference workshop as a part of your conference registration today!



  • 08/01/2019 4:38 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    You may have heard of the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia. Since its earliest iteration in 1968 (then known as the Geochronology Laboratory), the team at CAIS have been working as scientific detectives for years, conducting investigations on behalf of industry partners, universities, government agencies and researchers, including UGA faculty and students.

    Now ACRAsphere readers can get a deeper look at the work taking place inside this innovative lab with exclusive access to this piece originally published in UGA's Research Magazine.

    In spring 2014, a skull was scheduled to be auctioned in Hagerstown, Maryland. It had been found on a farm about two miles north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, near a barn that served as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. But public reaction to auctioning a soldier’s remains was strongly negative, and the skull was withdrawn and donated to the Gettysburg Foundation.

    The foundation planned a soldier’s burial for the skull, but first they turned to the Smithsonian for verification. Based on its appearance, Smithsonian anthropologists immediately suspected that the skull was far older than presumed and sent a tiny piece of tooth to CAIS for testing. Using radiocarbon dating, Speakman discovered that the skull was about seven centuries old. Carbon and nitrogen isotope testing suggested that the “soldier” ate a diet of mainly corn, and based on oxygen isotopes, he probably originated in southwestern New Mexico or southeastern Arizona.

    “Oxygen is a really good indicator of temperature. As you move farther north, water evaporates differently,” Speakman says. “By looking at isotopic ratios of oxygen, we can identify northern and southern movement.”

    This kind of expertise is why the Smithsonian brought its question to UGA.

    When first established in 1968, the Geochronology Laboratory focused primarily on radiocarbon dating, especially in marine-based research. The stable isotope lab was established in the 1980s and focused mainly on the authentication of natural materials and food ingredients, an aspect of the lab’s work that continues to thrive. However, the lab's expertise, capabilities, and technical services have continually expanded since then - thanks in part to the stewardship of CAIS director Jeff Speakman:

    Speakman joined CAIS in 2011—from the Smithsonian—and became director the next year. In 2016, the center expanded its physical footprint to 24,000 square feet and also enhanced its capabilities. When Speakman arrived, CAIS had three instruments capable of measuring stable isotopes, and now it has 22, more than any other lab in the world. The staff has nearly quadrupled in that same period, growing from 13 people to around 50. About 20 percent of those are scientists, who have their own research projects and often are affiliated with other campus departments, and the rest are postdocs, students and support staff.

    The lab now measures carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, deuterium and sulfur isotopic signatures in environmental and biological samples. This information can be used to track animal migration patterns and ocean temperatures, help reconstruct ecosystems, monitor pollution or test products’ authenticity. In addition to radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis, CAIS researchers perform tests including elemental analysis, bio-based product testing, natural product authenticity, and organic and inorganic analyses.

    Since 2012, CAIS has conducted research for more than 450 universities, government agencies, nonprofits and industry clients, as well as hundreds of campus-based researchers, processing more than 1,000 analytical requests from UGA faculty and students. In 2015 alone, the center analyzed approximately 68,000 samples, with the stable isotope lab processing about 75 percent of those.


    CAIS Director Jeff Speakman

    And CAIS doesn't just process samples - they are also involved in education and outreach both students and the larger community:

    CAIS assistant research scientist [Alice Hunt] has always been passionate about empowering others. Before starting graduate school, she served as a humanitarian aid worker in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After arriving at the center as a postdoc in 2013, she conducted science-related outreach and education activities in the Athens community in her free time. When Speakman found out, he encouraged her to make it part of her job.

    Hunt focuses primarily on two audiences, pre-K through 12th grade and undergraduate students, sometimes working directly with students and sometimes providing resources for teachers. For example, Hunt wrote a curriculum for high school on dropping the A-bomb and radioactive decay.

    “Not every teacher is comfortable leading a class on radiation physics,” she says.

    Hunt also spearheaded the creation of a bilingual English/Spanish comic book series. The first issue covered radiocarbon dating; Hunt wrote a curriculum to accompany it and is working with the Georgia Department of Education to make it available statewide.

    And these are just some of Hunt's efforts: from working with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation on a program that gave guidance for how to be a STEM major in college to designing a suite of interventions to help UGA students taking freshman chemistry, Hunt and the CAIS team are committed to helping people find their inner scientist.

    To learn more about CAIS, including details on some of its innovative projects, click here to continue reading.


    This post is sponsored by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia. ACRA members are eligible for a 10% discount on radiocarbon dates - click here for the discount code.


  • 07/31/2019 3:34 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!

    • ACRA member firms use their expertise for more than just specific projects - many even provide guidance to their community through local media. Charissa Durst of Hardlines Design Company, which specializes in historic architecture, does just this in the Canton Repository in this recent article on repairing and preserving older homes.
    • Casey Campetti of ACRA member firm AECOM has been helping the Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians on a fascinating project in their ancestral community in western Massachusetts, where historical researchers believe George Washington prepared a ceremonial ox roast in 1783 to honor the Mohican soldiers who fought on the side of the American Revolution. Read more in the Berkshire Eagle!
    • New South Associates manages the Veterans Curation Program, whichprovides employment, vocational training, and technology skills to veterans seeking to improve their access to the mainstream job market. The VCP's Augusta lab (they have lab locations across the country) was recently featured in the Augusta Chronicle - click here to read more about this fascinating program.
    • CRM companies assist in all different kinds of historic preservation in their communities. Read about how Dovetail Cultural Resource Group is helping with the relocation of a slave auction block in Fredericksburg, VA on Fredericksburg Today. Be sure to watch the YouTube video linked in the post to hear the details of the plan to move it!
  • 07/26/2019 2:19 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Whether you couldn't make the original presentation or want to give others the option to hear a session you found informative, ACRA has its Webinars on Demand program to allow you to do continuing education on your own time. We just added two new options for you - our two most recent webinars, Planning for Successful Section 106 Agreements and Meetings for a Healthy Organization.


    In Planning for Successful Section 106 Agreements, ACHP Associate General Counsel Kelly Fanizzo practices applying the tools for agreement writing and reviewing provided in the ACHP’s Guidance on Agreement Documents and guides participants in performing a “reality check” for agreement consultation. Cultural resources professionals and project/program managers with a strong understanding in the requirements of Section 106 consultation will benefit from this fresh look at effective strategies to execute implementable agreements in a timely manner.


    If you missed yesterday's Meetings for a Healthy Organization, don't miss your chance to hear this very informative session! Ryan Duddleson, Senior Archaeologist and Principal of Orbis Environmental Consulting, walks attendees though a series of meeting rhythms developed specifically with the needs of CRM firms in mind. Each of these focus on different issues that require their own solutions, from administrative, tactical, strategic, and developmental. Leaders who implement these meeting rhythms will see improved communication, reduced stress, and an environment where they and others can more effectively do their jobs.

    ACRA members receive a discount on Webinars on Demand - get the access code here.

    Check out these and the rest of our offerings on the Webinars on Demand page!

  • 07/22/2019 3:37 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Charissa Durst, President and owner of ACRA member firm Hardlines Design Company, has been named one of the honorees in Smart Business Columbus magazine’s list of 2019 Central Ohio Smart 50 award winners. 

    The Smart 50 Awards recognize the top executives of the smartest companies in the region for their ability to effectively build and lead savvy organizations, according to Smart Business Columbus magazine, which hosts the awards. The honorees had to address several questions, such as how their company innovates and develops new products, services or solutions; what kind of impact their company has on its employees and other constituents; and how the company’s impact and innovation have led to a sustainable, scalable business.

    In announcing the winners, Smart Business Columbus magazine noted how “Durst has established Hardlines Design Company as an expert in historic architecture, able to field research on a historic property and help clients apply for and manage the use of historic tax credits. She’s built a skilled team, strategically hiring and mentoring female architects, and invested in technology upgrades to keep the firm on the cutting edge.”

    Durst and her company were honored with other honorees in the Class of 2019 at a special celebration on July 18 and will be recognized in a special editorial report in Smart Business Columbus.


    Charissa Durst at the July 18 Small Business Columbus celebration

    “It’s an honor to be in the company of such engaged, successful business executives in the Columbus area,” Durst said. “We also appreciate the recognition of the impact that an architectural firm like Hardlines Design Company can have when it carves a niche for itself in historic architecture as we have done. After 29 years, we look forward to continuing to pursue our passion — historic architecture and preservation.”

    Congratulations to Charissa and Hardlines Design Company!



  • 07/19/2019 11:14 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Earlier this year, we relaunched ACRA's CRM Industry Salary Survey after a 6-year hiatus. We are thrilled to share with you that the summary report of the results is now available!

    The survey has maintained a primary focus on patterns of annual sales, business practices, and wage and benefit packages, helping you understand where your firm measures up compared to others. The independently collected and analyzed results provide essential longitudinal information on the state of the CRM industry. These data help substantiate industry trends over the long term, and no other organization collects this information specifically for CRM.

    Based on member feedback, we have enhanced the summary report by including regional data. The CRM industry can vary widely depending on what part of the country you work in, and our report now provides you with benchmarking statistics specific to your region on certain questions.

    The comprehensive, 129-page report is only available to ACRA members*. Get your copy on the ACRA site now!

    Get Your Salary Survey Report Now


    This year's ACRA conference in Spokane will include a special session on the salary survey results. During this session, we will provide additional analysis and insights supplemental to the summary report. If you have questions about the report, add them in the comments below for consideration for this session.


    *One exception: non-members who completed the 2019 survey are eligible to receive a copy of the summary report.


  • 07/16/2019 4:17 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Washington Post has reported that the Department of the Interior will be moving the majority of the Bureau of Land Management's DC staff to the western part of the country. The new headquarters is slated to be in Grand Junction, Colorado:

    "Interior’s plan for BLM, according to two people briefed on it who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, proposes dispersing about 225 staffers who report to headquarters to states including Colorado, Nevada and Utah over time, while reassigning another 75 to the bureau’s state offices. The rest of employees would remain in Washington to work on issues such as the bureau’s budget, regulations and Freedom of Information Act requests."

    According to the article, 95% of the departments employees already work in the field, and opponents worry that this "could complicate the agency’s relationship with Capitol Hill, budget officials and other federal entities."

    This move has not currently been cleared with the House appropriations committee. Former Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes thinks that more congressional support from outside the region will be needed:


    Read the full article in the Washington Post.





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