• 05/23/2019 10:30 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Last week, ACRA members converged on Washington, D.C. to stand up for the issues that matter to their firms and the CRM industry. As a part of CRM Day on the Hill, members visited 32 congressional offices on both sides of the aisle (19 Democrats and 13 Republicans), and the issues discussed in each meeting were tailored specifically to the district, committee assignments, and interests of the legislator. ACRA members were carrying the message on:

    • Infrastructure
      With infrastructure being a hot topic for legislators and the administration alike, ACRA members demonstrated their expertise in facilitating responsible infrastructure development that appropriately balances development and community historic preservation values. Emphasis was placed on developing an infrastructure plan that provides sufficient resources to support efficient and effective permitting reviews to help streamline the process.
    • Historic Preservation Funding
      The Fiscal year 2020 request from ACRA including $60 million for SHPOs, $20 million for THPOs, and $5 million for digitizing cultural resources data.
    • The Veterans Curation Program
      Created to process at-risk archaeological collections belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this five-month program provides employment, vocational training, and technology skills to veterans seeking to improve their access to the mainstream job market. Managed by ACRA member firm New South Associates, the VCP provides veterans a valuable bridging experience from active duty into the public sector. Legislators were asked to continue current funding levels for this vital program.
    • The African-American Burial Grounds Act
      The Adams-McEachin-Budd African-American Burial Grounds Network Act creates a voluntary national network of historic African-American burial grounds. This legislation also establishes a National Park Service program to educate the public and provide technical assistance for community members and organizations to research and preserve burial sites and cemeteries within the Network. Members of the House were asked to co-sponsor this bill while Senators were asked whether they would be interested in introducing the Senate version.

    Check out the photos from the day below, and thank you so much to our attendees for taking the time to stand up for CRM on Capitol Hill!

    Not able to attend, but want to make a difference from your home state? Contact us now and we will help you schedule an in-district meeting!


    Jasmine Heckman (left) & Sarah Janesko of New South Associates and the Veterans Curation Program 


    ACRA President Kim Redman (Alpine Archaeological Consultants) with Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO)


    Andrew Weir (Commonwealth Heritage Group, left) & Jacob Petrie (New South Associates, right) with Representative Jack Bergman (R-MI-1)


    Dan Cassedy (AECOM, left) & Wade Catts (South River Heritage Consulting)


    Wade Catts (South River Heritage Consulting, left) & Mike Carmody (Dovetail Cultural Resource Group) meet with staff from the office of Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL)


    Burr Neely (AECOM) & Ian Burrow (BurrowIntoHistory)


    Sara Read (New South Associates) at the office of Senator David Perdue (R-GA)


    Members from New South Associates & Dovetail Cultural Resource Group at the office of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
    From left to right: Yemisi Egbewole (Senator Warner's office), Jacob Petrie (New South), Brad Hatch (Dovetail), Jasmine Heckman (New South), Adriana Moss (Dovetail), Michael Carmody (Dovetail)


    Sara Read & J.W. Joseph of New South Associates


    Members from Dovetail Cultural Resource Group visit the office of Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    From left to right: Mike Carmody, Adriana Moss, Nick Barbash (Senator Kaine's office), Brad Hatch


    Ian Burrow (BurrowIntoHistory, left) & Wade Catts (South River Heritage Consulting) at the office of Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)


    Group dinner on Capitol Hill before storming the Hill



  • 05/22/2019 1:46 PM | ACRA Lobbying Team

    The House Appropriations Committee has released the report for the FY20 Interior Appropriations Bill! It’s very good news for the CRM industry, but there is one particular disappointment.

    First the Good:

    • The Historic Preservation Fund is funded at $121.66 million, which includes an increase of $4 million for SHPOs and $2 million for THPOS. $16 million is included for Save America’s Treasures, and there is $23.25 million (an increase of $8 million) for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve under-represented historic sites.
    • The bill includes some remarkable language asking for the National Register proposed rule to be withdrawn. The report states: “Proposed Rulemaking.—The Committee is concerned with the Service’s proposal to modify long-standing procedures to nominate properties to the National Register. It remains unclear to the Committee what problems the Service is trying to solve by its proposal. The Committee does not believe that the proposed changes are required by the minor amendments that Congress made to the National Historic Preservation Act in 2016. Further, the Committee is troubled that the Service failed to consult with other federal land management agencies, state and tribal historic preservation officers, and other key stakeholders during the proposal’s development or conduct required consultation. The Committee urges the Service to withdraw the proposed rule and consult with key stakeholders on the underlying issues the Service is trying to resolve. Such stakeholders should include other federal land management agencies, including the Department of Defense, state and tribal historic preservation officers, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Committee also expects the United States to enter into meaningful government-to-government consultation with affected tribes prior to finalizing any changes to the regulation.”
    • NEA and NEH are both funded at $167.5 million and the report notes that “The Committee recognizes the broad bipartisan support for the NEA and its work to promote access to the arts in every community across America. Each year, every district receives NEA funding to support art programs that can enhance economic development, create jobs, and expand arts learning.” The report particularly references NEH programs that advance civil discourse on challenging issues, NEH programs aimed at supporting veterans and increasing awareness of their experiences, NEH cultural and linguistic preservation programs related to Tribal and Alaska/Hawaiian native groups, and State humanities councils.
    • NPS is to receive a variety of funding increases to address deferred maintenance and cuts over the years, which includes a $50 million increase for workforce rebuilding (restoration of 500 positions) and a $20 million grant to the Centennial Challenge matching grant program. The report has some language in it about how the Committee is frustrated because the funding is separated between facility operations and facility maintenance, but individual parks have been switching between those accounts and are therefore still deferring maintenance. The Committee also notes that: “The Committee was deeply troubled by the decision by senior officials at the Department of the Interior to change longstanding policy during the fiscal year 2019 partial government shutdown and use fee revenues to provide services for certain national parks and other public lands. This decision contributed to national parks being kept open to the public during the shutdown without sufficient staffing to adequately protect public safety or natural and cultural resources.”
    • NPS gets an overall budget bump including $132.9 million for cultural resource stewardship, an increase of almost $10.8 million. That includes $1 million towards the national networks (which is where the burial grounds network would be if it passes). Other grants like NAGPRA, Japanese Confinement Site grants, native Art and Culture grants, which were proposed to be eliminated in the administration’s budget are funded slightly above the enacted level.
    • It includes a $3 million increase for BLM’s cultural resources management account (for a total of $20.303 million) and explicitly directs that half of that go toward the National Cultural Resources Information Management System! The bill is strongly supportive of digitization and planning efforts: “The Committee directs that half of the additional cultural resources funding be allocated toward 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 cultural resources management account has not seen an increase in several years, and they have done as we requested and directly linked the new allocation to NCRIMS!
    • It also includes our request to increase the National Conservation Lands Account. It provides $45.112 million (up $5.293 million from FY19). The report states, “The Committee believes a modest increase in this program will allow for greater inventory and monitoring of cultural resources and encourages the Bureau to increase its cultural resources staff.”
    • The report affirms Congress’s intent not to allow leases within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon: “Greater Chaco Cultural Landscape.—The Committee recognizes that the Bureau of Land Management has delayed scheduled lease sales in areas within a 10-mile radius of Chaco Culture National Historical Park on three occasions since March 2018. The Committee is also aware of the recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals vacating the Bureau of Land Management environmental analysis for oil and gas leasing in the area. The Greater Chaco cultural landscape has inestimable value for Native people and for the American public. The Committee directs the Bureau to refrain from leasing or proposing new leases within a 10-mile radius of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The Committee further directs the Bureau to prioritize planning updates for the region, increase cultural resources inventories in cooperation with the State of New Mexico and tribes to ensure well-informed land management decisions, and engage in meaningful government-to-government consultation with tribes, including conducting ethnographic studies outside of the 10-mile radius.”

    The Bad:

    • The Historic Preservation Fund appropriation doesn’t include proposed competitive grants for cultural resources digitization. This issue was championed by ACRA and other interested organizations, and our team will be working to find out more about the reasons for its exclusion.

    Please feel free to review the report here and tell us if you have any other thoughts or concerns.


  • 05/21/2019 4:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The ACRA board supports the communication strategy developed by the Promoting Synergy Between the Academy and the CRM Industry Task Force to foster collaboration, and has asked Duane Peter to be chairperson of a newly formed committee.  The Academic Collaboration Committee will implement the communication strategy and develop concepts for promoting further collaboration.

    The committee will be made up of both ACRA CRM industry representatives and academic representatives. Initial efforts will focus on communicating the need for digitization and preservation of data sets for the future. This effort is aimed at influencing fellow professionals, State Historic Preservation Officers, ACHP, the National Trust, and congressional representatives. We will also be working on efforts to promote academic/industry collaboration.

    The Society for Archaeological Sciences has already indicated an interest in working with the committee to promote collaboration. What is needed at this point is additional ACRA representatives to serve on the committee. The committee will function primarily by teleconference and email. If you have ideas on fostering collaboration with the academic community, please contact Duane Peter to join this worthwhile effort.


  • 05/17/2019 3:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post is authored by Angela Haines, Project Archaeologist and GIS Coordinator and Anne Lee, Project Manager and Principal Investigator at Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc.

    We’ve flown into the new field season full force, and it’s good to have some reminders for many of us and our staff about safe travel practices. Just think about how many of these tips we, especially seasoned travelers, completely ignore…and think about the small changes you can make to increase your own safety and security when you’re On the Road Again.

    Lesson 1: Hotels

    Although many of us consider ourselves to be “seasoned” when it comes to living and working out of hotels, it’s always good to have a refresher on simple things you can do to help yourself and your staff be safe while staying at hotels.

    • Check-In:
      • Have your ID and a printed hotel confirmation ready for the desk clerk, so that your information (name, length of stay, phone number, etc.) is not overheard by others in the lobby. This is the type of information others can use to get a duplicate key to your room.
      • Ask for one key to your room and clarify to the hotel staff that you are the only person that can get a duplicate or replacement key to your room.
      • Ask for a room between the second and fourth floor. This provides maximum security, while also providing the safest location in the event of a fire.
    • Room Inspection:
      • After you check for insects, make sure that your window and door locks function properly.
      • Look at the room. If anything feels weird, it may be; trust your gut.
    • Best practices during your stay:
      • Familiarize yourself with the hotel layout and evacuation routes.
      • Park your vehicle near a well-lit entrance.
      • At key-controlled entrances, don’t hold the outside door open for someone you don’t know.
      • Don’t leave any valuables, or anything with sensitive information, in your room or vehicle.
      • Always use the secondary door lock when you are in your room.
      • Never prop open your room door with the secondary lock while you are inside or while you run down the hall to the ice machine.
      • Look through the peep hole before you open the door to anyone. If someone identifying themselves as hotel staff is at your door at an odd time, verify their identity with the front desk before you open the door.
      • Leave your TV and a light on when you aren’t in the room to create the appearance that someone is in the room or plans on being right back.

    Lesson 2: Unfamiliar Places

    One of the best parts of traveling for work is getting to see new places across the country. But each new exotic locale, whether a rural farm town in Iowa or a big city on the coast, can present its own safety issues. Here are some simple things you can do to help you stay safe while traveling to unfamiliar places.

    • Familiarize yourself with local laws. Remember, the places in which you are staying and working may have different laws than your hometown.
    • Utilize the hotel staff to find out about the area. The hotel lobby staff typically lives in the area and knows the surrounding trouble spots; use their knowledge or advice when it comes to any question about the area.
    • When outside the hotel be aware of your surroundings. Remember, having your head down, looking at your phone, having ear buds in, or other such body language makes you an easily identifiable and vulnerable target.

    Do you have any additional travel safety tips you abide by? Let us know in the comments!


  • 05/15/2019 9:35 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA's CRM Industry Salary Survey has returned after 6 years, and now is your last chance participate! If you have not already, it is imperative that you complete the survey by this Sunday, May 19.

    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.

    We are also happy to announce that based on member feedback, we will be enhancing our 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 will now provide you with benchmarking statistics specific to your region. The summary report will be available in June.

    Both member and non-member firms are encouraged and needed to participate, and anyone who completes the survey will receive the summary of results. The information you share will NOT be tied to your name or any other personally identifying information, so you don't have to worry about any of your financial data being shared with others.

    Help us provide this valuable information that can be vital in running and planning for the future of your firm - complete the salary survey before the end of the weekend.

    If you run your own firm or CRM division and did NOT receive an invitation to complete the survey, contact us to receive a personalized link.

  • 05/10/2019 9:45 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Did you know that being an ACRA member gets you access to more than just conference, continuing education, and networking? Out latest blog series will focus on some of the benefits you may not be aware of. First up: the ACRA event calendar.

    You know ACRA's event calendar is the place to learn about and register for ACRA-sponsored events like our webinar series and the annual conference (registration is open for 2019!), but did you know that you can use it to advertise your CRM industry events to other members for free?


    ACRA's Event Calendar

    Whether you are hosting a summit on Native American interests or a training that would be of interest to other CRM professionals, you can add it to the ACRA calendar. By doing so, you can increase your attendance, maximize your feedback on projects, and even just raise awareness for your event.

    Adding your event is easy: simply send us an email with your event information. We only ask that you ensure this event is directly related to CRM and would be of interest to other ACRA members. 

    In 2019, ACRA has committed to expanding its member benefits based on feedback from members at firms of all sizes. Are there particular member benefits you would like to see (or if you aren't a member, that would convince you to join)? Let us know in the comments!

  • 05/07/2019 4:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    No matter what position you hold in CRM, or whether you work for a large or small firm, you need accounting skills to succeed. ACRA's upcoming webinar this Thursday gives you the opportunity to learn (or brush up on!) the concepts that will be help you be a better owner, employee, or potential hiree. This webinar will only be given live, so reserve your spot now!

    Still need a reason to attend? Check out the list below as to why you need to take an accounting course:

    As a firm owner:

    • Even if you think that you have a good handle on accounting practices necessary to bid projects and maintain your budget, you may be missing key concepts.
    • You can have a better understanding on the health of your company, enabling you to continue profitable actions and change directions when necessary - making you more money!
    • You will be able to make predictions about the future of your firm.

    As a firm employee:

    • Being a good employee includes more than just having the technical CRM knowledge. You need to have a handle on basic business practices too!
    • By showing that you understand how a firm sets budgets and prices and maintains its financial health, you have the potential to rise through the ranks at a faster rate (and thus earn more money!).

    As a student:

    • Demonstrating that you have knowledge on broader business topics makes you a more attractive candidate for potential employers.
    • The skills learned can even help you manage your personal finances better.

    Register for ACRA's Accounting Webinar TODAY

  • 05/03/2019 10:40 AM | 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!

    • The city of Fredericksburg, VA has launched a new digital archaeological tool aimed for use by the public, and work conducted by Dovetail Cultural Resource Group was integral to its creation. You can read about the interactive "story map" and the city's goals to designate an Archaeological Preservation District in the Free Lance-Star.
    • Up in Delaware, another Dovetail Cultural Resource Group project in discovering dozens of artifacts, including some that date back to 1000 AD, at the site of a future overpass. The Cape Gazette has more details on these fascinating finds.
    • New South Associates is seeking for descendants of people buried in a historic African-American graveyard in Georgia that is believed to have been active until about 60 to 70 years ago. Find out more about the project here, and spread the word if you are in the area!
    • Another project by New South Associates may have uncovered another hidden burial ground on the campus of Florida's oldest (and now shuttered) reform school. Read about the anomalies discovered in the Tampa Bay Times.
  • 05/02/2019 9:10 AM | ACRA Lobbying Team

    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!





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