• 05/02/2019 9:10 AM | Deleted user

    The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) hosted its first annual stakeholder engagement forum on efforts to streamline the federal permitting process on Tuesday, May 1. Kelly Lizarraga, Advocacy Coordinator at Cultural Heritage Partners, ACRA’s lobbying firm, attended the closed-door session. She brought back the following report for ACRA on what government leaders are saying about the future of federal permitting.

    Top Trump Administration officials touted their efforts to shorten permitting timelines and detailed how projects on the FPISC dashboard save time and money. Andrew Wheeler, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, discussed how the EPA is tracking how long the permitting process takes – something that hadn’t been done prior to the Trump Administration. Wheeler said that his ultimate goal is to ensure that all permitting decisions get and up or down answer within six months. He also highlighted agency efforts to standardize the approach to all state permitting to ensure consistency nationwide.

    Wheeler cited four steps he sees as critical to better coordination with other federal agencies:

    • 1.     Working with the USACE to ensure early engagement on 404 projects
    • 2.     Streamlining NEPA
    • 3.     Ending the alpha-numeric rating system that was not required by law
    • 4.     Keeping the FPISC dashboard up to date

    R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, also spoke at the forum. According to James, a group of state governors met with President Trump at the White House. Their biggest complaint was the permitting process at United States Army Corps of Engineers. He decried the current situation in which lawsuits have caused different states abide by different rules regarding the definitions of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). He said that they are working on developing step two of WOTUS and expressed confidence that the new WOTUS will be very effective.

    John Fowler, Executive Director of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), gave a brief overview of Section 106. He said that problems arise when there’s a failure to follow procedures. Fowler said that ACHP is committed to finding creative solutions to systemic challenges. As an example, he cited the creation of a new ACHP task force on digitization, on which ACRA President-Elect Nathan Boyless and ACRA Chief Lobbyist Marion Werkheiser will serve.

    Fowler highlighted ACHP’s work to improve coordination between NEPA and Section 106 regulations. He stressed the importance of early and effective engagement with all stakeholders, and emphasized the importance of involving tribes early in the process. He mentioned ACHP’s work to create a tribal contact system.

    In addition to Administration officials, the event featured Senator Portman (R-OH), FPISC officials, and industry representatives. Senator Portman (R-OH) discussed his role in passing FAST-41 legislation, which created FPISC, and stressed the importance of extending the sunset provision on the law. He highlighted the excitement in DC over infrastructure, but commented on the ongoing problem of how to fund it. FPISC Executive Director Alex Hergott moderated the event. Hergott talked about his vision of FPISC a “politically agnostic plan” in which common sense will guide solutions. FPISC officials gave a presentation on the steps in the permitting process and dashboard eligibility criteria, and industry representatives shared how the FPISC dashboard assisted their projects, which included a solar farm and a coastal restoration project in Louisiana.

    Several of the speakers from the FPISC forum will testify today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Senator Rob Portman will chair the hearing. Alex Hergott, Executive Director of FPISC, is the key witness.

  • 04/30/2019 10:04 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We are happy to announce that ACRA now has an official LinkedIn page!

    Since ACRA is the organization for the business of cultural resource management, we wanted to give you an opportunity to engage with us on the business world's biggest networking site.

    The ACRA LinkedIn group still exists, and is now a featured group on our LinkedIn page. The content  will differ from our Facebook page with more focus on business principles (but of course will still feature the ACRAsphere posts!). Join us there to connect with other CRM professionals, start robust discussions, and get the latest on all things ACRA. 

    We will continue to unveil new ACRA properties to allow you to connect with us through the networks you use the most, so stay tuned for options as 2019 continues. In the meantime, follow the official ACRA LinkedIn page here. We are glad to have you!

  • 04/26/2019 12:56 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As you know, the National Park Service has invited public comment on troubling proposed regulations that have a direct impact on your work as a CRM professional. Earlier this month we asked you to submit comments on these regulations - if you have not done so yet, we need to you act NOW.

    The regulations would give federal agencies power to block National Register listings and eligibility determinations of federally owned properties, and also give large landowners the ability to block historic district and property listings. Not only does this undermine the power of state and tribal historic preservation officers to nominate historic properties on federal land, but the changes also appear to be designed to limit the input of local communities in the National Register listing process while giving more power to large developers.

    The deadline to submit comments is this Tuesday, April 30. It is imperative that officials at the Department of the Interior hear from as many of us as possible. ACRA has made it easy for you to do so - by using the template below, you can personalize and send your own comments in just a few minutes.

    You are the subject matter expert on issues like this - show that to NPS! Your comments can help improve this proposal and will also be read by courts in future litigation, if necessary. Please join your fellow CRM professionals and act NOW.


    Your specific expertise matters: please take the time to personalize these comments. The more information you include that is based on your own experiences working in CRM, the more impact your statement will have. Note: if you don't have time to personalize, please remove the words in bold below before submitting!

    Submit your comments here.

    I write to OPPOSE the proposed changes to the National Register regulations. I am a [insert professional interest in historic preservation—owner of a CRM consulting firm, professional archaeologist, historic architect, etc.] and write to express three major concerns with the proposed changes:

    1) The proposed regulations would cut off the ability of SHPOs, THPOs, and local communities and organizations to nominate historic properties located on federal land. The changes would allow only the federal agency to submit nominations of federal properties to the Keeper. This federal overreach is inconsistent with Congress’s intent in the 2016 amendments to solicit more input from SHPOs on federal nominations. [Insert your own examples where properties on federal land were listed through efforts of SHPOs, tribes, local communities or orgs]. These changes would also cause delays in the Section 106 process, because a federal agency could prevent the Keeper from determining the eligibility of federal properties for the National Register. Such delays are contrary to the Administration’s and Congress’s goal of making the permitting review process more efficient.

    2) The proposed regulations would allow large landowners to block a nomination of a historic property to the National Register. Currently, a majority of property owners can stop a National Register nomination; each property owner of a historic property gets one vote. The proposed regulations would empower the private owners of a majority of the land area to block a nomination—a change not supported by Congressional authority and clearly designed to give power to large developers to block historic property listings. These proposed regulations are designed to allow mining and energy developers to block National Register listings that encompass large scale landscapes, such as those in Alaska and the western U.S. that are culturally significant to Native Americans. [Insert your own examples of listings that could have been blocked by a majority of landowners]. Giving property owners more votes based on their landholdings is un-American and contrary to the time-tested principle of “one person, one vote.”

    3) Finally, I object to the process through which these changes were developed. The National Park Service did not consult with tribes, state historic preservation officers, or other federal agencies, including the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, to develop this rule. NPS should go back to the drawing board and enlist the expertise of professionals to develop regulations that are consistent with Congress’s intent and longstanding commitment to historic preservation.



  • 04/25/2019 2:26 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Accounting is the language of the business world. Whether you own your small business or are an employee of a larger CRM company, you need to understand basic accounting principles to succeed.

    ACRA's latest webinar Accounting Basics will go over not just basic accounting skills needed to successfully run a business, but will also explore more mid-level concepts to help improve your bottom line.

    With a combined over 50 years experience in business management and development, expert providers Marcy Maslov and Tom Fulcher will be available to answer your questions in real time. Whether you are part of a small firm or a large company, this team has the expertise for you:

    Ms. Maslov's is a national speaker, game inventor and executive coach devoted to building strong ethical leaders and entrepreneurs. Her experience includes 25 years as an international accounting professional with Pepsi, 20th Century Fox and Motorola, as well as more than 15 years as an entrepreneur and national speaker.

    Mr. Fulcher, a Certified Small Business Counselor, is the founder and President of The Idea Gardener® LLC, a business development, strategy and leadership/management consulting organization. He has over 25 years of professional experience. Tom has led projects and divisions for start-up, small and large firms including Colgate-Palmolive and Heinz. He served as CEO of an internet firm leading up to its eventual sale. Tom’s firm is also actively engaged with the Arizona and New Mexico Departments of Transportation leading small business educational, development and networking programs for small businesses.

    Even if you think that you have a good handle on the accounting practices necessary to bid projects and maintain your budget, you may be missing key concepts - and so could other employees. We recommend that you view this presentation with others on staff. If you have an accountant, even better - have them on hand to help apply the knowledge gained in this webinar directly to your firm.

    It is recommended that everyone take at least one accounting class in their lifetime. Why not take one that is geared towards your industry?

    This webinar will only be given live, and spaces are limited: sign up today to reserve your spot.

    Register Now

  • 04/23/2019 2:07 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Today we are unveiling an exciting new benefit specifically for ACRA's student members - new student pricing for our ACRA webinars!

    Students can now attend our online learning opportunities for just $19 per webinar. This is a significant discount to the normal webinar price. Students can now better prepare for a career in CRM for less than what most spend on coffee for the week! 

    ACRA webinars focus on the business aspects of CRM that students may not be exposed to in academic programs. Attending will net you skills that could ultimately make you a better employee and more attractive for CRM firms to hire. For example, our upcoming webinar on May 9, Accounting Basics, will go over basic accounting principles that will help you understand how CRM firms set budgets, bid projects, and more. Note: This webinar will only be given live and spaces are limited, so register today to reserve your spot.

    You must be a Student member of ACRA to get the student webinar pricing, so if you aren't a member, join here. Becoming a student member of ACRA also gets you access to networking with the leadership of CRM firms that may eventually employ you, insights into the inner workings of the industry, and more.

    We hope that these new student prices will allow more students to take advantage of the engaging content in our full webinar slate. Register to reserve your spot today!

  • 04/22/2019 2:29 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Utah State Historic Preservation Office (UT-SHPO) has gone all-digital! Chris Merritt, Deputy UT-SHPO, provided the following document excerpt to the Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Ogden office to share on the ACRAsphere:

    The UT-SHPO is one of only a handful of SHPOs around the country that have converted to an all-digital work flow. Digitizing this consultation workflow has been a priority of the Utah SHPO since 2014, with concerted efforts to build a system starting in spring of 2016. The project was termed as “e106”, as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is the specific part of the law that requires consultation of federal agencies, and is the common professional reference point. The estimated cost savings in Utah for the switch from a paper to a digital workflow for Section 106 and 404 consultation is $283,344.80 with an additional 8,000 days (~21 years) saved in transit time for correspondence.

    To ease the transition of agencies and consultants into the world of e106 using Salesforce, UT-SHPO created a training program using GoToMeeting and conference phone call-ins. Over 50 individuals representing two dozen agencies took advantage of that personalized orientation with UT-SHPO staff, easing the final implementation of the system.

    The following are unsolicited testimonials of the newly launched e106 that have been received by UT-SHPO staff during the first week of its public launch.

    “The newly implemented electronic Section 106 submission system is extremely worthwhile and long over-due. It reduces the inefficiencies in the consultation process tremendously. Official, routine correspondence that previously took days through the mail to be delivered is now available in moments and will not be lost in the mail. The e106 system will save the Bureau of Reclamation months on consultation timelines and fosters goodwill within my organization for working with the State Historic Preservation Office. Definitely worth it!”—Bureau of Reclamation

    “The E106 process is a game changer. And change is not something that goes over well with many people. I was impressed with the straight forward simplicity and consultation time frame. Your staff have gone out their way to clarify any questions I have had and worked the kinks out of the system. I never thought this day would come. 20 something years of pushing paper.” – Division of Wildlife Resources.

    Have you worked in Utah and had the chance to utilize e106? Do you have experience with digital workflows for Section 106 consultation in other states? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

  • 04/18/2019 12:46 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Do you have a public or private sector client that has gone above and beyond what the law requires for cultural resource management? Now is the time to recognize their commitment - submit them for a 2019 ACRA Industry Award before next week's deadline!

    Recent past winners of our industry awards include Calpine Corporation and the Dayton Power and Light Company for the private sector, and the City of Wilmington and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the public sector. You can see the full list of previous awards recipients here.

    One thing you may notice on that list is that the ACRA Awards don't always focus on industry projects. The ACRA Public Service Award allows you to recognize friends and colleagues who are making important contributions to CRM or their community outside of specific projects.

    The award is 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.

    The deadline for receipt of nominations is fast approaching: FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019, at 5:00 PM EDT. Awards will be presented during the ACRA Conference October 24-27, 2019, in Spokane, Washington. For more details on each of these awards and how to submit your nominations, click here.

  • 04/15/2019 4:27 PM | Deleted user

    Earlier today ACRA submitted comments regarding proposed changes to the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The new definitions aim to restrict the US Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction by removing seasonal and ephemeral water courses from federal regulation. our response focuses on the lack of adequate public comment time, the elimination of well-developed legal concept of “significant nexus,” and lack of incorporating or using scientific data in making jurisdictional decisions. The rule inappropriately excludes major season streams from environmental review, a change that has serious potential implications on ACRA member firms.

    Read ACRA's full comments here, and let us know how the proposed changes could affect your firm in the comments below.

  • 04/15/2019 4:21 PM | Kerri Barile

    ACRA is thrilled to announce that registration for our 25th annual conference is now open! Click here to sign up to attend our industry's premier informational and networking event. Come to Spokane from October 24-27, 2019 to hear exciting updates on preservation legislation in DC, be a part of interactive panels on CRM's most critical issues, and meet new business partners. A full schedule of events and sessions will be posted to the ACRA webpage in the coming weeks. Register before July 15th to get the Early Bird rate; ACRA members and firms who register multiple attendees get an even bigger discount. Sign up today!

    While registering, you can also add on our incredible pre-conference workshop to be held on Thursday, October 24 from 1-5pm. Water Over the Dam: “WERC-shop” on Federal Hydroelectric Project Relicensing will introduce attendees to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) hydroelectric relicensing projects. The WERCshop will feature an expert panel composed of Industry Project Managers, Tribal representatives, CRM practitioners, and the Washington DC FERC archaeologist. 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. 

    Questions on the conference? Ask Committee Chair Kerri Barile or Executive Director Amanda Stratton. Hope to see you in Spokane!

  • 04/11/2019 3:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Are you attending the SAAs in Albuquerque? Come visit the ACRA booth in the exhibition hall! You can meet our Executive Director and members of the Board of Directors, get more information on upcoming ACRA initiatives, and even give us your feedback on benefits and events you would like to see. You can also pick up some free ACRA swag!

    We also hope you can join us for the CRM Expo on Saturday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Jointly hosted by both SAA and ACRA, many member firms will be exhibiting at this event showcasing CRM practitioners from around the country. Hint: if you are a student, this is a particularly great event for you to attend!

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

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