The House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States held a hearing on May 20 to discuss two bills, including the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act (H.R. 2930/S. 1471). This bipartisan, bicameral legislation endorsed by the National Trust would strengthen laws aimed at preventing trafficking in Native American cultural items and facilitate the voluntary return of sacred and cultural items. Witnesses at the hearing included the Honorable Brian D. Vallo, the Governor of Pueblo of Acoma—a National Trust site in New Mexico—where he testified in support of the bill. We encourage you to contact your members of Congress in the House and Senate to support this legislation.
The National Trust has published "Historic Preservation Solutions to Build Back Better," a new report that demonstrates the role historic preservation plays in promoting economic growth, confronting racial equity challenges, and responding to the climate crisis. The National Trust have transmitted the report to numerous senior officials throughout the Biden-Harris administration. The report details the National Trust’s regulatory and legislative priorities and how they align with the president’s broader agenda.
In December, the National Trust met with and submitted policy priorities to the Biden-Harris transition team for the first 100 days of the new administration. Among the priorities cited were addressing proposed regulatory changes to the National Register of Historic Places, restoring Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, and imposing a moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities that threaten cultural resources on public lands, particularly in Greater Chaco Culture Landscape, and in the currently unprotected but culturally rich areas of Southeast Utah. Additionally, the National Trust highlighted the need for action to address the damaging changes made last summer to the regulations governing the National Environmental Policy Act and requested a full review of the Trump Administration’s reorganization of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The National Trust also asked for the revocation of Secretarial Order No. 3389 that was issued in December to change DOI’s approach to Section 106 compliance under the National Historic Preservation Act. Among other things, the order restricts the use of off-site compensatory mitigation for projects where historic resources will be harmed or destroyed, requires National Environmental Policy Act review to be used as a substitute for Section 106 consultation, establishes unreasonable compliance timelines, and requires the BLM to institute a review of the existing programmatic agreement, policy directives, and other guidance documents for conformance with the order.
Each of these changes has raised troubling issues for the long-term protection of the nation’s cultural resources that the National Trust stands ready to help the new administration to address.
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Preservationists around the country have been seriously concerned about proposed changes to the regulations governing the National Register of Historic Places since they were first proposed in 2019. Last fall, despite an outpouring of public concern about the proposal, the new rule was forwarded for review by the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
During this review process, historic preservation advocacy organizations, state historic preservation offices, tribal governments, and tribal organizations pressed hard to make the case that the rule should be dropped. As a result, it was not finalized prior to the presidential transition and is not expected to be pursued by the Biden Administration.
This is a big win that demonstrates the strength of the historic preservation movement when we work together on policy priorities. Congratulations and thanks to all who helped to achieve this important victory!
The FY 2021 appropriations season appears to be coming to a close with the House and Senate passing a 5,593-page Omnibus Appropriations bill which was paired with the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. Despite Congress having reached a bipartisan agreement, President Trump has signaled he may not sign the final combined bill because of objections to elements of the relief package.
The Interior Appropriations bill is a remarkable affirmation of sustained congressional support for historic preservation, including programs that advance equity and a more diverse American story. And it reflects the engaged advocacy of preservationists throughout the nation.
A major highlight is a record level of funding, for the fourth successive year, for the Historic Preservation Fund.
Historic Preservation Fund
FY 2020 - FY 2021
($ in millions)
State Historic Preservation Officers
Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
African American Civil Rights Grants
Civil Rights Grants for All Americans
Semiquincentennial Celebration Grants
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grants
Underrepresented Community Grants
Save America Treasures
Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants
Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) Total
In addition to record levels of funding for the vitally important work of State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, record levels of funding were also achieved for the competitive grant programs that are expanding the reach of preservation to identify and protect the stories of all Americans. African American Civil Rights grants continue a steady increase in funding, and we are gratified by the expansion of this program for the second year to include grants for Civil Rights for All Americans.
The small but impactful Underrepresented Community Grant Program was awarded its highest level of funding. HBCU preservation grants were funded at their authorized level. The venerable Save America’s Treasures program and the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization grants again received robust funding. And for the first time, Congress awarded $10 million for grants to recognize the Semiquincentennial Celebration of the Declaration of Independence.
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Announcing the 2021 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.See the List