American Cultural Resources Association
STATEMENT ON THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE HEARING
July 18, 2017
ACRA is concerned about the inclusion of the NHPA in the Natural Resources Committee Hearing today entitled, “Examining Impacts of Federal Natural Resources Laws Gone Astray, Part II.” The NHPA helps stabilize neighborhoods and downtowns, contributes to public education, attracts investment, creates jobs, generates tax revenues, supports small business and affordable housing, and powers America’s heritage tourism industry. Publicly owned historic properties, from community landmarks to federal facilities and national parks, also maintain community pride and identity, aid local and regional economies through their operation and maintenance, and foster a variety of public uses. Grants from the Historic Preservation Fund have supported restoration of historic treasures, assisted with community recovery from disasters, and improved history education.
We are particularly concerned about the Committee’s emphasis on Section 106 of the NHPA, which requires the federal government to seek input from local communities when planning federally supported development in their backyards. Compliance with federal requirements has engaged and empowered local communities across the country in better planning for development and provided communities with an important voice in federal decision-making. For public officials concerned about protecting the rights of localities and states against too heavy a federal hand, Section 106 is an asset--not an obstacle. Even so, Section 106 is a procedural review, and it requires the federal government only to take into account adverse effects on historic properties. It does not mandate preservation of historic places.
You can read our full letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations here.
ACRA is the national trade association supporting and promoting the common interests of cultural resource management (CRM) firms. Our member firms have a vital role in the Section 106 process, helping clients by identifying and assessing historic and cultural resources prior to development, and by recommending responsible solutions that appropriately balance preservation values with development goals. Our member firms work throughout the United States for and with a wide variety of federal, state, and local agencies, developers, Indian tribes, and community organizations. As a result, ACRA’s collective expertise and decades of experience with Section 106 make us a particularly valuable resource for policymakers, regulators, the media, and the general public. Learn more about ACRA at www.acra-crm.org.