• 07/10/2020 10:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced that they are cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Despite their victory in the Supreme Court over a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, they cited the likely risk and expense of future litigation as the cause for their decision. They also focused on the recent court decision to suspend the Army Corps’s use of Nationwide Permit 12. Following that announcement, Dominion announced it is selling its Natural Gas assets to Berkshire Hathaway.
      • The Supreme Court subsequently lifted the stay on the use of Nationwide Permit 12 all but Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.
      • A district court ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline must shut down by August 5 while the court-ordered environmental review takes place. The review is likely to end into 2021. If this decision is upheld on appeal, it will mark the first time that a major, in-service oil pipeline is forced to shutter because of environmental concerns.
    • The Department of Homeland Security deployed a special task force charged with protecting federal monuments over the July 4 weekend. On Twitter the President reminded everyone of his executive order threatening prison sentences of more than 10 years for anyone convicted of harming a federal statue. In similar news, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill requiring a minimum 1-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of defacing or destroying a veteran’s memorial.
    • President Trump used his July 4 celebration at Mount Rushmore to announce that he was signing an executive order creating a National Garden of American Heroes. The order proposes statues of 28 Americans, among them John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman and George Washington. It also mentions Christopher Columbus and Junipero Serra as possible candidates for inclusion. No Native Americans or Latinos are included in the list of possibilities. All statues would have to be realistic and lifelike – nothing abstract or modern. The order also establishes an inter-agency task force whose membership would include the Chairs of the NEA, NEH and the ACHP.
    • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 35 of her fellow Democrats introduced legislation that would require removal, within one year of the law’s enactment, of any Confederate names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia from any Defense Department asset. An exception would be made for grave markers. President Trump has taken a hard line, resisting calls to do away with vestiges of past celebrations of Confederates and has threatened to veto the defense bill over the issue.
    • The House passed its $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. President Trump threatened to veto it because it doesn’t eliminate or reduce environmental reviews. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) submitted an amendment to the bill regarding the NHPA, but it was not included in the final package of amendments. The text of her amendment said:

      “Expresses a Sense of the Congress affirming the requirement that the Department of Transportation ensure that when funding an infrastructure project follow the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires steps to be taken to preserve and protect historic places that may be near construction or infrastructure improvement projects.”

    • William Perry Pendley was formally nominated by President Trump to head the Bureau of Land Management, a position he has held in an acting capacity since summer 2019.
    • John Frey, a Connecticut State Representative, has been formally nominated to be a member of the ACHP. We previously reported this appointment on the ACRAsphere in late June.
    • Following decades of legal battles over potential oil and gas development in the Badger- Two Medicine, the Blackfeet Nation has publicly released a legislative proposal to designate the 130,000-acre wildland as a Cultural Heritage Area.
    • John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, which memorializes Tulsa's bleakest days – the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot - of and one of its most distinguished sons, has been added to the National Park Service's African American Civil Rights Network.
    • Congressman Joe Neguse, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressman Ed Perlmutter and Congressman Jason Crow (all from Colorado) called on the House Committee on Appropriations to include $515 million in future Coronavirus relief funding for State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), and small museums. This effort was spearheaded by a lobbying group in Colorado.
    • House Democratic appropriators are proposing the federal government spend $13.83 billion to fund activities within the Department of the Interior for fiscal 2021 — $304 million above what was allocated in fiscal 2020 and $1.8 billion beyond the administration's initial request. They are suggesting the National Park Service remove "all physical Confederate commemorative works, such as statues, monuments, sculptures, memorials, and plaques."
    • The draft House Interior appropriations bill provides the following for the Historic Preservation Fund:
      • $136,425,000 for HPF (an $18 million increase over FY2020)

      • $7.5 for restoring sites of national, state, local significance

      • $10 million HBCUs

      • $22.25 for grants honoring Civil Rights movement

      • $1 million for underrepresented communities grants

      • $25 million for Save America's Treasures

      • $7.4 million for the ACHP

  • 07/08/2020 4:36 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!

    • A project from Gray & Pape, Inc. found evidence suggesting that people once lived in an area that is now buried 20 feet below the Gulf of Mexico. Read about these findings in The State.
    • The Alexandria lab of the Veterans Curation Program, administered by New South Associates, was recently featured on Fox 17. Head over to the article to learn more how this program uses archaeology to train military veterans for civilian life - even outside the industry.
    • Employees from both South River Heritage Consulting and Dovetail Cultural Resource Group have both been featured on Digging Delaware, a quarantine video series from the Archaeological Society of Delaware. You can view the these installments on our previous blog post, and can view them all on the ASD YouTube channel.
    • Gray & Pape, Inc. has also been working with the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and the Houston Archeological Society on a volunteer project to uncover the ruins of a former World War I training camp. Read more about the project in Houstonia Magazine!
    • CRM firms are integral to helping local communities record their history: for example, New South Associates is working to identify the locations of unmarked graves in the African-American section of a cemetery in High Point, NC. Read more in the High Point Enterprise.
    • Archaeologists with Cardno has been searching for a lost all-Black cemetery in Tampa - and now it has been found! After detecting anomalies via ground-penetrating radar, team members were able to confirm that those anomalies are coffins. More information on this project is in the Tampa Bay Times.
    • Another New South Associates project was featured in the Northside Neighbor - this time for helping the community of Buckhead, GA learn more about a historic cemetery in their town. At the time of the article, the New South team had uncovered more than 330 gravesites but said there were likely more.

  • 07/07/2020 3:36 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
    Emerging Technology for Heritage Management & Section 106 Compliance

    July 16, 2020 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT | Register Here

    When the Section 106 process results in adverse effects to historic properties, federal agencies often use mitigation measures to preserve data for the public benefit. As new means of information visualization are embraced by the general public, new opportunities to comply with the goals set out by the law can be explored to ensure that the historic data is not only accessible to a wider audience, but also conveys it in an engaging and innovative way.

    Join us for Emerging Technology for Heritage Management & Section 106 Compliance on July 16 at 2:00 pm EDT. Our expert presenters will provide an overview of emerging technologies such as:

    • Augmented reality (AR)
    • Virtual reality (VR)
    • Digital reconstructions
    • Interactive interfaces
    • Downloadable apps

    The webinar will review examples of the technologies, showcasing how these resources can be employed to support Section 106 compliance as alternative and creative mitigation packages.

    Participants will also learn about existing and emerging visualization platforms along with practical examples, guidelines for adopting solutions that maximize longevity of the digital assets, and best practices for recruiting service providers, such as organizing RFPs and RFQs.

    Space is limited, so register now to reserve your spot. As a reminder, we have implemented a firm-wide registration fee for ACRA members during the pandemic - once one person from a member firm registers, others can register for free. Contact us for information on subsequent registrations.

    Register Now

  • 07/01/2020 2:03 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

     All employees of ACRA member firms, even those not directly involved in CRM work, can use the Savings Marketplace! 

    Get the Code NOW

  • 07/01/2020 11:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Update: The extension passed by the Senate has also been passed by the House and signed into law by the President.

    Late last night the Senate reached a deal to extend the Paycheck Protection Program for an additional 5 weeks - hours before the program was set to expire. From the Washington Post:

    The Senate acted by unanimous consent to extend the Tuesday midnight deadline for when the PPP can accept applications for forgivable loans for an additional five weeks. It came as the program was poised to shut down to new users with more than $130 billion left untapped. Lawmakers were working on legislation to redirect the remaining funding to additional businesses, but no such deal was expected to be reached until late July, and meanwhile the money left in the program would be sitting unspent.

    “We want to make sure the money gets out, and we also want to make sure those who really need it get the funds,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee, said on the Senate floor.

    A similar deal has not been reached in the House, and it is not clear whether the chamber will take up the issue before adjourning at the end of the week: 

    Even if the House manages to pass the measure before adjourning this week, though, thorny questions still remain unresolved about how to repurpose the funds left in the program. Demand for the remaining money has slowed to a trickle, a dramatic change since the program was launched in April and immediately overwhelmed by demand.

    Read the full Washington Post article here, which includes information on the existing proposals for repurposing the remaining funding in the program.

  • 06/29/2020 1:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    On Friday the White House announced that John Frey, a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, has been appointed by the President to serve on the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP). From the Hamlet Hub:

    “It is truly an honor to have been asked to serve, combining my deep appreciation of history and love of public service,” said Representative Frey. Completing twenty-two years as Ridgefield’s state representative, he is the longest serving state representative in Ridgefield’s history. The second longest was the first, Col Phillip Burr Bradley, who served for 13 years starting in 1776.

    A four-year term, Representative Frey’s tenure will begin immediately. The ACHP meets several times a year in Washington, DC.

    Additionally, Rick Gonzalez, whose appointment as an Expert Member to the ACHP was previously announced, was sworn in on June 24 for a term that ends in June 2023. From the ACHP press release:

    “We look forward to utilizing Rick’s expertise as the ACHP enhances opportunities for minority architects and incorporates a preservation ethic for those in the architecture and building fields,” Chairman Jorjani said. “Rick has a lot to contribute to the national historic preservation conversation, through his many efforts within Florida and the local preservation community. We have already enlisted his help in the Traditional Trades Training Task Force we recently launched.”

    Born in Cuba, and raised in Miami and later, Costa Rica, Gonzalez earned two architecture degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he first discovered his love of historic architecture. He also studied design in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Italy. Gonzalez is president of REG Architects in Palm Beach, Florida, which he co-founded with his father Ricardo in 1988, with a focus on building a strong relationship with the community.

    “I am honored that President Trump appointed me as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,” Gonzalez said. “As a Cuban American architect, never in a million years would I think that my work in historic preservation and urban renewal for more than 30 years would result in such an honor. Advocating for historic preservation statewide over the past decades will serve as inspiration to share my time and talents at the national level to help set historic preservation policy to protect our amazing American historic places.”

    Gonzalez is known for his historic preservation work in the West Palm Beach area, including Mar-a-Lago, a National Historic Landmark built from 1924-27 by cereal company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post; the Harriet Himmel Gilman Theater, which was constructed in the 1920s as the First United Methodist Church of West Palm Beach; and the historic 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse.

    Gonzalez is a board member on the Florida Historical Commission, a past president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, former chairman of the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design, and is actively involved with community organizations such as the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. He also is the writer of a popular Facebook blog, Florida Historic Places.

    Chairman Jorjani invited Gonzalez to join the Traditional Trades Training Task Force that was formed last month, which will work to promote the development of a robust workforce in the skilled preservation trades, and he participated in the first meeting that took place June 18.

    Read the full ACHP press release on the swearing in here

  • 06/26/2020 1:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • Representatives of several professional organizations and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs met to discuss the proposed changes to the NEPA regulations. The Administration is aware that Congress could use the Congressional Review Act to roll back the new regulations put in place at the very end of the Administration, so timing is critical for them. We anticipate that a finalized version of the regulations will be issued within 45 to 60 days while Congress is not in session. The Administration is still required to to follow Administrative Procedure Act and address all comments. ACRA expects lawsuits to be filed by various groups once the revised regulations are issued.
    • The revised National Register for Historic Places (NHRP) regulations are moving along within the National Park Service. Expect to see these issued within the next 45 to 60 days, similar to the revised NEPA regulations.

    • As discussions surrounding social justice and heritage continue on Capitol Hill, the Coalition for American Heritage is working to raise the profile of the African-American Burial Grounds bill and several grant programs within the Historic Preservation Fund aimed at minorities, such as funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

    • The House marked up its infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), and plans to pass it before the July 4 recess. The bill provides $1.5 trillion in funding for infrastructure projects. From the fact sheet:

      H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, is a more than $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure—not only our roads, bridges, and transit systems, but also our schools, housing, broadband access, and so much more. By investing in families, workers, and communities across the country, we can support American manufacturing and ingenuity and create millions of jobs that cannot be exported, all while putting our country on a path toward zero carbon emissions, making communities and roads safer, and addressing long-standing disparities. It’s about investing in infrastructure that is smarter, safer, and made to last.

      During a press conference, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said that there is no current need for further reforms to NEPA either in the surface transportation bill or in the broader Democratic infrastructure plan. See the fact sheet on the Moving Forward Act here.

      The President has touted the idea of passing a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, but Senate Republicans have declined to take on the issue.

    • House appropriators will be marking up bills during the first half of July, and plan to pass 2 minibuses in the second half of July. The Senate schedule is similar, but was slowed last week by fights over appropriations riders.

    • The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act by a vote of 73 to 25. The bill would provide funds to the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education for maintenance projects. The House is expected to vote on it in July.

    • A flurry of anti-regulatory legislation has been introduced during the past two weeks:

      H.R. 7130 – This bill would codify the President’s Executive Order (EO) on One Federal Decision. The EO streamlined the project permitting process by placing timelines for government completion of environmental reviews and by consolidating the process across federal agencies. This legislation ensures those changes are permanent and mirrors language in the bipartisan Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization proposal approved in the Environment and Public Works Committee.

      S. 3922/H.R. 6691 – Sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in the House. This bill requires Congress to justify restoring any regulations modified or waived during the pandemic and sets up review committees.

      S. 3941 – Sponsored by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), this bill aims to roll back rules that would harm economic recovery during the pandemic.

      S. 3860 – Another bill sponsored by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), it stipulates that any significant regulations would have to be offset by the repeal of other regulations.

      S.3926 – Sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the bill would establish deadlines for federal agencies under the FAST Act.

      S. 3927 – Also sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, this bill would shorten the timetable to file a petition for judicial review of a permit, license, or approval of infrastructure project from 150 to 90 days.
    • S. 3131, championed in the Senate by Senators Udall (D-NM), Risch (R-ID), and Ihofe (R-OK), aims to fund archaeological research in the Mirador-Calakmul basin in Guatemala. This bill has raised concerns as to why we are providing funds to a major project in a foreign country when we need funds for preservation within the US. VICE did a video news piece on the bill that was published on June 17:

  • 06/24/2020 4:02 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Archaeological Society of Delaware has been producing a new quarantine series - Digging Delaware - on their YouTube channel! In this series, host Curtis McCoy (who is an employee of ACRA member firm Dovetail Cultural Resource Group!) interviews Delaware archaeologists about how they got their start in the industry and their experiences over their careers.

    Two of the interviews of this series feature employees of ACRA member firms: Wade Catts of South River Heritage Consulting and Bill Liebeknecht of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group.

    Check out their installments below, and view more on the ASD YouTube channel!

  • 06/23/2020 3:26 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Join us for another FREE members-only virtual happy hour on Tuesday, June 30 at 6:00 pm EDT.

    There is no fixed agenda - we can talk about the industry trends, get ideas from your peers about continuing to operate in the current climate, or even just vent about the challenges you have experienced during the pandemic. All employees of ACRA member firms are welcome to join.

    Both ACRA President Nathan Boyless and Executive Director Amanda Stratton will be providing updates on ACRA resources and news.

    Simply sign up here and we will send you a link to join!

  • 06/19/2020 2:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that funds repairs at American’s national parks and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), passed the Senate this week in a 73-25 vote. The bill now moves to the House, which is expected to take up the bill before July 4.

    The Great American Outdoors Act will invest $1.9 billion annually for the next five years in deferred maintenance for lands managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. Performing this work will also provide jobs in nearly every state.

    The bill would also provide full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF. These monies come from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars. Since 1965, the LWCF has helped preserve historic sites, cultural parks, battlefields, and archaeological sites. Examples of these sites include: Fort Monroe National Monument, Gettysburg National Military Park, Nez Perce National Historical Park, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

    The bill is supporting by both environmental groups and oil and gas industry organizations alike. From the Washington Post:

    Virtually every major environmental group supported the bill. So too does the oil and gas industry, happy to take credit for providing money to fix parks.

    “It highlights the role we already play in conservation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, head of the Western Energy Alliance.

    Despite that support, nearly half of Senate Republicans voted against the bill.

    Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), long skeptical of the LWCF, decried the idea of the U.S. government seizing more land in states such as his, where federal agencies control nearly two out of every three acres.

    And some Southern representatives, such as Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), wanted more money to go toward shoreline restoration along the Gulf of Mexico, where so much oil drilling that generates money for the programs takes place.

    “The Senate missed an opportunity to invest in coastal resiliency to protect against flooding and hurricanes,” Cassidy said. “The coast needs this money for its communities to survive. This fight is not over.”

    Read the full Washington Post analysis of the bill here, and stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for more information as the House takes up the Great American Outdoors Act.

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