• 05/10/2021 1:07 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.

    As President Biden reaches the end of his first 100 days in office, partisanship is clouding the outlook for his ambitious agenda – even as policies that impact cultural resources continue to move forward.

    On April 28, Biden headed to Capitol Hill for his first address to Congress. Speaking to a House chamber that was half-empty due to COVID precautions, Biden said the country "was on the move again" as he touted his administration's success in delivering vaccines. In the speech he called on Congress to pass his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan and his $1.8 trillion social plan, as well as legislation on gun violence, policing reform, immigration and other issues. In the Republican response, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) criticized Biden for the size and scope of his spending plans.

    The ”social infrastructure” plan Biden unveiled would spend $1.8 trillion on a range of education, health and safety-net programs intended to reduce economic inequality. It includes two years of tuition-free community college, universal pre-Kindergarten for 3- and 4-year olds, tuition subsidies for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled at historically Black institutions, tribal colleges and other minority-serving institutions for two years, up to 12 weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness leave, and a temporary extension of an enhanced child tax credit until 2025. The plan also would raise taxes on upper income earners.

    Not surprisingly, the plan received a less-than-enthusiastic response from Congressional Republicans due to its size and tax increases. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said last week that "100%" of his focus is "on stopping this new administration." Nonetheless, Biden said he hopes he can win bipartisan support for his program.

    The last two weeks made clear, however, that even as the two parties battle one another, they also are battling with themselves. Democrats have been growing increasingly frustrated with two of their own, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who have steadfastly opposed curtailing the filibuster (and, in the case of Manchin, opposes parts of Biden’s proposals). With the filibuster intact, Senate Democrats will be forced either to win over at least 10 Republicans for their agenda, or use the same procedure, known as reconciliation, they used for the COVID relief plan, which requires just 50 votes to pass but also limits what legislation can be approved.

    For their part, meanwhile, Republicans appear to still be re-litigating the 2020 election. The House GOP may vote this week to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as the GOP Conference Chair, the third-ranking slot in leadership. Cheney has angered a number of Republicans, including former President Trump, for stating that President Biden won the election fairly. Trump and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) have thrown their support behind Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has defended the former President and his unsubstantiated election fraud claims, to replace Cheney.

    The partisan and intra-partisan squabbling may make it seem like nothing is happening in Washington. But below the surface, there are signs that on some issues, progress is possible. This includes policies that impact the CRM industry, directly or indirectly. Recent developments include:

    • Protecting Tribal Artifacts. ACRA joined with a number of its cultural resources partners in late April to support the introduction of the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021 (STOP Act). This bipartisan legislation would enable the U.S. to take strong steps toward halting the overseas auctions of illicitly-procured tribal objects, and in encouraging the voluntary return of such items to their rightful owners. As the letter signed by ACRA and other groups states, “Passage [of the STOP Act] is critical to ending illegal trafficking in tribes’ cultural heritage and bringing home objects that have been separated from their communities for far too long.
    • Improving Water infrastructure. The Senate approved a $35 billion bill to upgrade the nation's water infrastructure two weeks ago on an 89-2 vote. The bill would improve the nation's aging water and wastewater infrastructure, support programs to provide safe drinking water and set aside grant funding for poor, rural and tribal communities that have struggled with poor water quality. The bill leaves intact protections under the National Historic Preservation Act to ensure that any federally funded projects require a Sec. 106 assessment. The bill now goes to the House.
    • Financing New Infrastructure. The Biden administration announced new programs from the Department of Energy that will provide upwards of $8 billion to finance high-voltage transmission lines, martialing its loan program to pay for the investments and encouraging applications for loan guarantees of up to $5 billion. The White House also announced that DOT is releasing new guidance on how states should remove obstacles along highways and railroads to facilitate the construction of power lines.
    • Protecting the Permitting Process. A coalition of environmental groups has sued the Army Corps of Engineers in federal court in Montana, arguing that the Corps failed to properly analyze environmental impacts when issuing a broad pipeline permit. The permit at issue, Permit 12, is a nationwide permit that streamlines the pipeline permitting process. The Corps has estimated that its 2021 version will be used more than 40,000 times over the next five years.
    • Supporting Land and Water Conservation. The Biden administration unveiled broad principles to achieve the 30x30 goal of conserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030. The "America the Beautiful" framework, released by the Commerce, Interior and Agriculture Departments. outlines in broad strokes steps the U.S. could take to safeguard key areas on land and in the sea to restore biodiversity, tackle climate change and make natural spaces more accessible to all Americans.

    Although there is a long road ahead for the President’s agenda, developments over the last two weeks show that it is possible to move the ball forward on issues that affect millions of Americans.

  • 05/07/2021 1:41 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    NOTE: You must be registered for the NAEP conference to attend these happy hours.

    Women in STEM in Environmental Professions

    Networking sessions sponsored by Flatwoods Consulting Group and Sapphos Environmental

    Tuesday, May 18

     East Coast* | 6:45 - 8:15 PM ET

     West Coast* | 5:30 - 8:00 PM PT

    *You are welcome to attend either one or both! During each session, one of the sponsors, Flatwoods Consulting Group and Sapphos Environmental, Inc. will be donating a wine gift (valued around $250) via raffle to one attendee. Don’t miss it! *

    Women in STEM in Environmental Professions networking sessions sponsored by Flatwoods Consulting Group.

    The Women in STEM networking serves as a place for women to meet each other, discuss important and pressing topics, find mentors, and build relationships that will help them navigate their career paths.

    The Women in STEM initiative began with the TBAEP local chapter of FAEP as an annual workshop. At the 2020 NAEP Conference, a panel session summarized the accomplishments of the TBAEP group, provided a Q&A session, and hosted a pilot networking event.

    The NAEP Women in STEM committee proposes to continue the initiative started at the 2020 conference with two coast-crossing networking sessions. These networking sessions provide a platform for women to have an open discussion on various topics, such as different challenges women face in the workplace. The NAEP envisions the networking sessions at the 2021 conference will kick-off ongoing NAEP Women in STEM networking events to occur on a quarterly or bi-annual basis.

    The NAEP invites women from all environmental professions to join these informative, enlightening, and supportive sessions.

    Register for the NAEP Conference Here

  • 05/03/2021 1:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Cultural resources management professionals utilize archaeological sciences on a near daily basis. From compositional analysis to zooarchaeology, most projects involve at least one archaeological sciences specialty. But how many CRM firms are conducting this work in-house?

    ACRA has partnered with the Society for Archaeological Sciences to find this out. Our two organizations have put together a survey to measure the current status of archaeological science within the CRM, its potential future, and the need for trained specialists within the industry.

    Please take a few moments to complete this survey below. Note: this survey is meant to be completed by one person per organization - if you are not authorized to complete surveys on behalf of your firm, please send this to the person who is.

    Your answers will assist us in creating future opportunities and programs for a wider-range of CRM specialists. Thank you in advance for your participation!

  • 04/29/2021 11:06 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We are thrilled to announce that ACRA has a new partner: the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA)! 

    The RPA joins our growing list of partners, which now includes the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), the Federation of Archaeological Managers & Employers (FAME), and the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA). 

    The partnership with the RPA means that it will be easier for you to receive RPA credit for attending ACRA Continuing Education sessions. Additionally, members of both organizations will receive discounts on webinars and more.

    Be on the lookout for more exciting benefits to accompany this partnership!

  • 04/27/2021 1:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This webinar is being shared with ACRA audiences as a part of our partnership with the NAEP.

    Belonging: Leadership When Guiding Through Transition
    April 29, 2021 | 3:00-4:30 pm EDT
    FREE - Register Now

    Have you wanted to expand your professional network? Do you want to become a leader in the environmental professions? NOW is your opportunity. Listen to NAEP’s free informational webinar “Belonging: Leadership When Guiding Through Transition” to learn more about leadership opportunities, to hear three fascinating personal career stories, and to discuss the value of getting involved and staying involved with NAEP, its affiliated Chapters, and other environmental professional associations.

    You can view more information about the webinar, including presenters, on the registration webpage here.

  • 04/26/2021 1:49 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.

    The coronavirus may be preventing in-person meetings, but thanks to technology the CRM industry made its presence felt on Capitol Hill last week.

    Virtual CRM Week meeting with ACRA member Veronica Parsell and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN)

    As part of ACRA’s 2021 Virtual Advocacy Week, CRM professionals from across the country “met” by phone and Zoom with nearly 50 members of Congress and their staffs to educate them on the industry and press for policies that support their firms. Among the issues that ACRA members raised were:

    • Infrastructure and Historic Preservation. As Congress begins to debate President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill, ACRA members asked their elected representatives to balance investing in infrastructure with the need to protect and preserve our heritage. As ACRA members noted, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) does not cause infrastructure projects to be canceled or blocked, but makes sure there is a plan to protect or record historic treasures.
    • The Historic Preservation Fund. For 40 years, the HPF has supported the rescue and rehabilitation of significant historic sites, revitalized communities, and created opportunities for economic growth – all without spending a single dollar taxpayer money (funding for the HPF comes from offshore oil lease revenues). Although Congress has increased funding for the HPF in recent years, it has not kept up with rising demand for historic preservation resources in states and tribes. The current economic crisis has only exacerbated the problem, as states seek ways to cut their own budgets, further imperiling state historic preservation programs. Therefore, ACRA members asked Congress to provide the full authorized amount of $150 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
    • African-American Burial Grounds. Lastly, ACRA members asked their representatives to support legislation to be introduced shortly to protect and preserve African American burial grounds. Noting that African American families were often barred from burying their loved ones in White cemeteries, many African American burial sites have been neglected and abused over time, effectively erasing the memory of countless Americans whose history deserves to be told. The African-American Burial Grounds Study Act would direct the Interior Department to study ways to account for and preserve historic African American cemeteries and burial grounds, and to develop recommendations to provide support to local partners to research, identify, survey and preserve these burial grounds.

    Virtual CRM Week meeting with Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN-5)
    and ACRA members Robbie Jones and Shawn Patch

    ACRA members also invited their elected representatives to meet with CRM professionals back home in their states and congressional districts once it is safe to do so. Inviting a member of Congress to visit a firm or tour an active project site is a great way to build a stronger relationship with elected representatives and help them see first-hand the enormous value that cultural resource management brings to their community and the nation.

    The meetings last week demonstrated that, despite the extreme divisions between the parties on many major issues, there is bipartisan support for historic preservation and helping businesses like those in the CRM field recover from the pandemic. That bipartisan spirit will be sorely needed as Congress begins to tackle a range of issues, from policing reform to guns to immigration, which tend to fall along partisan lines.

    The top priority for the moment, however, remains infrastructure. As President Biden continues to push for his American Jobs Plan, Senate Republicans came out with an infrastructure package of their own last week. The Senate GOP plan would spend $568 billion, as opposed to Biden’s $2.25 trillion price tag. And the Republican proposal would limit funding for “traditional” infrastructure (like highways and bridges), along with broadband and water projects. That is a far cry from Biden’s more expansive bill, which also includes funding for affordable housing, schools, renewable energy and elder care. Whether the parties can bridge the divides is still an open question, but as House committees prepare to unveil legislative text in the coming weeks, ACRA remains vigilant to ensure that Section 106 is maintained.

    Section 106 also got an important boost last week, thanks in part to ACRA lobbying. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland rescinded a Secretarial Order issued by her predecessor at the tail end of the Trump administration. As ACRA wrote to Haaland in February, Secretarial Order 3389 made “changes to the [Sec. 106] process that will harm the process, delaying projects, increasing costs and threating our ability to preserve and protect cultural assets." Thankfully, Haaland agreed, nullifying the Order on April 16.

    As spring turns to summer, Congress and the White House will continue to spar over the infrastructure package and a host of other issues that impact CRM firms. Virtual Advocacy Week may be over, but the work of advocating for the industry continues. To learn how to get involved, click here.

  • 04/22/2021 5:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Radiocarbon Dating Basics
    May 13, 2021
    2:00 - 3:30 PM (EDT)
    Register Now

    Members $59 | Students $19 | Non-Members $99

    The next webinar in our 2021 series is Radiocarbon Dating Basics on May 13 at 2:00 pm EDT. Even if you think you know every there is to know about radiocarbon dating, you and other firm employees will benefit from this session that includes the latest information from Beta Analytic!

    This presentation will give an introduction to radiocarbon dating with a focus on what radiocarbon dating is and how it can be used. Topics covered include:

    • Discussion on radiocarbon production in the atmosphere and integration into biological matter, carbon-14 variability in the recent past due to anthropogenic influences and the deep past due to solar cycles
    • Variability in dating uncertainty due to wiggles within the radiocarbon curve
    • Types of organisms and artefacts that can be dated using radiocarbon
    • How radiocarbon is measured using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry and how that data can be used
    • Recommendations on how to best select and prepare samples for radiocarbon dating

    Registrants for Radiocarbon Dating Basics will also enjoy a $30 discount from our normal webinar rates. As always, ACRA members enjoy the firm-wide registration benefit - once one person pays for a registration for the live session, all other employees can attend for no additional cost.

    Sign up NOW to reserve your spot!

    Register for Radiocarbon Dating Basics Now

  • 04/21/2021 11:52 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Photo by <a href="https://stocksnap.io/author/worldstage">The World’s a Stage</a> from <a href="https://stocksnap.io">StockSnap</a>It is vital that CRM firms prioritize the safety of their employees on site. Health and safety plans are a requirement for most, if not all CRM projects. Even if you are a small CRM firm working with a larger one, you are often required to submit your own safety plan as a part of your subcontract. These are blueprints for keeping all on the project safe and healthy.

    Health and safety on site is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple ACRA committees have come together to create a new safety plan template specific to pandemic operations for ACRA firms to use. Firms can use this editable Word document as a reference for safety plans on their own projects or as a part of subcontracts.

    The reference template is available to ACRA member firms only.

    Get the Pandemic Safety Plan Reference Template Here

    DISCLAIMER: This safety plan template is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state, or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the authors nor ACRA will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this policy.

  • 04/19/2021 3:24 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If you haven't submitted your projects for the 2021 ACRA Awards yet, you need to do so now! The deadline for receipt of nominations is this FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021, 5 PM, EDT.

    ACRA Awards recognize private and public sector clients of ACRA member firms for CRM accomplishments and commitments exceeding those required by various laws and regulations. ACRA Awards also recognize ACRA member firms or employees thereof who have made a long-term and on-going public service commitment to CRM. Awards will be presented during the ACRA 2021 Conference. Award categories:

    Industry Award-Private Sector

    Presented to an ACRA firm’s private sector client who has demonstrated accomplishments and commitments above and beyond those required to meet laws and regulations pertaining to CRM. Recognition can be for completed single or multiple projects, or for an on-going commitment.

    Industry Award-Public Sector

    Presented to an ACRA firm’s public sector client who has demonstrated accomplishments and commitments above and beyond those required to meet laws and regulations pertaining to CRM. Recognition can be for completed single or multiple projects, or for an on-going commitment.

    Public Service Award

    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 nomination form and additional eligibility requirements are available here.

  • 04/16/2021 12:46 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    In December, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued Secretarial Order 3389, Coordinating and Clarifying National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Reviews. ACRA raised a number of concerns about the impact of Order 3389 on the Section 106 process in a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, including how it discouraged alternative mitigation measures as a tool to balance preservation and development needs.

    Today the Department of the Interior announced that Secretary Haaland has rescinded the Order alongside a number of others that "issued in recent years that are inconsistent with the Department’s commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science." Today's order aims to "restore transparency and integrity in the Department’s decision-making processes" surrounding public land and water management.

    You can read the full press release here, and see ACRA's letter to Secretary Haaland here.

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