• 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.


  • 10/05/2020 4:11 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Feeling like you missed out on the Virtual 2020 ACRA Annual Conference? You're in luck - all of the conference sessions are now available on demand!

    Cultural resource practitioners usually look to the past for our data—searching historical records, looking at old buildings, gathering oral histories from community elders, or digging important sites. Like many organizations in 2020, though, we took our conference to the future instead. Using the most up-to-date technologies, we hosted our 2020 conference virtually over two half days on September 24 and 25.

    A combination of webinars and interactive round tables were presented on both days. Many of this year's sessions focused on diversity and inclusion, both within the cultural resource management industry and the larger historic preservation field. Sessions ranged from an update from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to in-depth dialogues on diversity in historic preservation.

    Whether you want to watch the whole suite of sessions or just a few recordings, you can pick and choose the sessions you are most interested in! Members can get their discount code here. Both the awards ceremony and ACRA business meeting are FREE for viewing by all, and are available in the bonus features of the page. 

    Watch the 2020 conference sessions now!

    Virtual ACRA Annual Conference from ACRA on Vimeo.




  • 10/02/2020 4:31 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • A federal judge ordered William Perry Pendley to be removed as the head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), determining that he served unlawfully for over a year. Pendley has been acting as BLM's director since July 2019 and was never officially confirmed by the Senate in the role. President Trump formally nominated him for the role in July 2020, but later withdrew that nomination after considerable opposition to the appointment. Rather than appoint a new acting director, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will serve in the role. Read more in the New York Times.
    • The House approved a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan earlier this week in response to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. This bill significantly cut costs from the bill passed by the chamber in May, especially concerning funding for state, local, and tribal governments. However, talks with the Senate and the Trump administration continue to languish, with hopes of a bipartisan relief package being passed before the November election dwindling.
    •  REMINDER: ACRA has created resources to help you take action for historic preservation in your state as state budgets are considered this fall. Many states are facing budgets cuts due to decreased tax revenue, and both SHPO offices and infrastructure projects could be affected as a result. Because the budget discussions in each state vary widely, the best place to start is to meet with your state's SHPO and/or state archaeologist. You can then take the information from those meetings to discuss the issue with state lawmakers. ACRA has compiled a list of resources to make requesting and holding these meetings as fast as possible, including a sample meeting request and a list of suggested questions. If you are having trouble finding the contact information for your SHPO or state archaeologist, let us know and we can easily provide that for you.
    • Earlier this fall the Center for Biological Diversity published a list of the projects that have been expedited in response to President Trump's Executive Order (EO) issued in June. The EO directed federal agencies to waive environmental regulations to speed up infrastructure projects under the auspices of responding to the “economic emergency” presented by the COVID-19 pandemic (more on the EO here). Thus far "federal agencies have produced little evidence  that any infrastructure projects have been expedited" under the EO. More in the Engineering News-Record.


  • 10/01/2020 12:15 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
    The 2020 ACRA Awards were presented at the virtual Annual Conference last week, and we are thrilled to congratulate the following winners:
    • Colorado Department of Transportation for the Highway 550/160 Connection
    • Bureau of Land Management Carlsbad Field Office for the BLM Permian Programmatic Agreement
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency and the City of Colorado Springs for mitigation at the Garden of the Gods Park

    You can learn more about each winner and project in the video below, and congratulations again!


  • 09/28/2020 1:32 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
    Speaks-Warnock Symposium on Race and Racism at the University
    Department of History, University of Delaware
    Online via Zoom, Registration Required
    https://www.history.udel.edu/news/Pages/Symposium.aspx

    From the University of Delaware:

    UD now joins other universities who have participated in the Universities Studying Slavery project by launching a campus-wide discussion of the legacies of slavery, segregation and racism at UD and in Delaware from 1743 to the present, as well as the unacknowledged displacement of indigenous peoples from their lands. The symposium is part of the UD Antiracism Initiative, a new multiyear collaborative project with a variety of faculty, staff, and students across the university working to grapple with and repair racism at the University of Delaware and in the state of Delaware.

    The four invited guest scholars are professor Alyssa Mt. Pleasant (University at Buffalo), who works on indigenous land dispossession in relation to college and university campuses, as well as professors Hilary Green (University of Alabama), Jody Allen (a UD alumna who leads the Lemon Project at the College of William and Mary), and Rhondda Thomas in English (Clemson University), who have been participating in the national Universities Studying Slavery project at their own institutions.

    The Symposium on the History of Race and Racism at the University is co-sponsored by Africana Studies, Art History, Anthropology, English, History, Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Political Science, Sociology and Criminal Justice, Women and Gender Studies, the Center for Diversity Studies, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, the College of Arts and Science, the Library, Museums, and Press, and the Provost's Office.

    Pre-registration is required.






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