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  • 10/22/2021 11:56 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The National Park Service has a number of grant opportunities available, including for important civil rights and diversity programs. See the list below for the grants application periods closing soon!

    • African American Civil Rights Program - December 1, 2021

      The African American Civil Rights (AACR) documents, interprets, and preserves sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens.
    • Underrepresented Communities Grant Program - January 11, 2022

      National Park Service’s Underrepresented Community Grant Program (URC) works towards diversifying the nominations submitted to the National Register of Historic Places.
    • History of Equal Rights Grant Program - December 1, 2021

      The History of Equal Rights grant program preserves sites related to the struggle for any or all people to achieve equal rights in America. The History of Equal Rights grants are not limited to any specific group and are intended to include the broadest possible interpretation of sites associated with efforts to achieve equal rights.
  • 10/20/2021 11:42 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As part of its implementation of an Executive order, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is conducting five virtual listening sessions and inviting public comments to obtain stakeholder input on barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face in taking advantage of DOI procurement and contracting opportunities.

    DATES:

    DOI will hold five virtual listening sessions on the following dates:

    • October 19, 2021 from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET
    • October 20, 2021 from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET
    • October 21, 2021 from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET
    • October 25, 2021 from 8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET
    • October 26, 2021 from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET

    You can register for the listening sessions here, and learn more about the sessions in the Federal Register notice.


  • 10/18/2021 2:29 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    The entrance to the Redlands Armory building after rehabilitation

    In September 2021, Janet and Donn Grenda, owners of ACRA member firm Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI), received a Beautification Award from the City of Redlands, California, for the rehabilitation of the 1950s armory building. The Grendas bought the 1950s industrial-style building in September 2020 from the City of Redlands, which had purchased it from the California Army National Guard. The vacant property had fallen into disrepair over the years and was a candidate for demolition. The Grendas had a vision and began rehabilitating and upgrading the building. On the interior, they renovated the main assembly hall, added and insulated offices, screened all utilities, and used passive air conditioning with ceiling fans and functional windows. The grounds are now landscaped with drought-tolerant plants that complement the building’s exterior, and the parking lot and perimeter are planted with carbon-reducing trees.

    The Grendas had obtained a determination of eligibility from the California State Historic Preservation Office for the armory, and although it was not found to be individually eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, it could contribute to a National Register district if a nomination is completed in the future. Although mid-century armories were constructed to stock plans, the Redlands example is unusual because of how the interior layout had been flipped from the standard layout.


    City of Redlands Beautification Award presented to Statistical Research, Inc., in recognition of the beautification of the Armory building

    The armory rehabilitation took a year, and the building now serves as SRI’s headquarters office. During the award presentation, the City of Redlands noted the transformation of the “dilapidated” armory into an impressive and imposing building that beautifies its location on Texas Street near Interstate 10 and serves as a welcoming historical entrance to downtown Redlands.

    Please join us in congratulations Donn, Janet, and SRI in the comments below!


  • 10/14/2021 1:33 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    On Friday, October 15, 2021, preservationists around the world will celebrate the 55thanniversary of the signing of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), the statute that created the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. To commemorate the occasion, the ACHP gathered some of the leading experts in federal historic preservation to discuss the current status of the NHPA and work that is needed to take historic preservation into the future.

    Join the ACHP at 12 p.m. EDT on Friday, October 15 on the ACHP YouTube Channel for the premiere of a special edition of the ACHP podcast Preservation Perspectives where ACHP Expert Member Luke Nichter talks with Robert G. Stanton, former ACHP Expert Member and National Park Service Director; Reno Keoni Franklin, ACHP Indian Tribe Member and Chairman Emeritus of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, and Julianne Polanco, California State Historic Preservation Officer.

    Some of the topics they discuss are inclusivity in historic preservation, early coordination for Section 106 reviews, more Native American representation on the ACHP, and much more.

    The premiere will take place here.


  • 10/13/2021 3:18 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The following analysis was provided by ACRA Government Relations Committee Chair Kimball Banks.

    Summary - Proposed revisions to 2020 CEQ regulations for implementing NEPA – 43 CFR Parts 1502, 1507, and 1508

    CEQ is proposing to revisit and revise the 2020 revisions to 43 CFR Part 1500 et seq. using a 2- phased approach. ‘‘Phase 1,’’ published in the Federal Register on 10/7/21, focuses on specific provisions. Phase 2 will more broadly revisit the 2020 NEPA Regulations and propose further revisions to ensure that the NEPA process provides for efficient and effective environmental reviews that are consistent with the statute’s text and purpose; provides regulatory certainty to Federal agencies; promotes better decision making consistent with NEPA’s statutory requirements; and meets environmental, climate change, and environmental justice objectives.

    The purpose of Phase I is (1) to eliminate language in the description of purpose and need for a proposed action when it is an agency’s statutory duty to review applications for authorization and make a conforming edit to the definition of ‘‘reasonable alternatives’’; (2) to remove limitations on agency NEPA procedures for implementing the CEQ regulations; and (3) to return to the definitions of ‘‘effects’’ in the prior 1978 NEPA Regulations which the 2020 regulations revised. The focus is on those provisions that (1) pose significant near-term interpretation or implementation challenges for Federal agencies and would have the most impact to agencies’ NEPA processes before Phase 2 rulemaking is complete; (2) make sense to revert to the 1978 regulations; and (3) CEQ is unlikely to propose further revisions in Phase 2. Three provisions are addressed: 1) Purpose and Need (§ 1502.13), 2) Agency NEPA Procedures (§ 1507.3), and 3) Definition of ‘‘Effects’’ or ‘‘Impacts’’ (§ 1508.1(g))

    1. Purpose and Need (§ 1502.13):

      CEQ proposes to revert to the language of the 1978 NEPA Regulations for purpose and need and conform the definition of ‘‘reasonable alternatives’’ in § 1508.1(z) to this change. CEQ argues that the 2020 regulations were too limiting and gave preference to the applicant’s proposed action to other alternatives, that the regulations required an agency to always base the purpose and need on an applicant proposed action and the agency’s statutory authority, which could be construed as requiring an agency to prioritize the applicant’s action over other relevant factors.

      CEQ argues that restoring the 1978 language will eliminate any confusion in the 2020 regulations and reaffirm agency discretion in developing statements of purpose and need so they are consistent with the agency’s decision-making responsibilities while considering multiple relevant factors. This would promote greater transparency and give equal consideration to other factors in addition to the applicant’s proposed action.

    2. Agency NEPA Procedures (§ 1507.3):

      CEQ proposes to revise § 1507.3(a) and (b) to clarify that while agency NEPA procedures need to be consistent with the CEQ regulations, agencies have the discretion and flexibility to develop procedures beyond the CEQ regulatory requirements, thereby enabling agencies to address their specific programs and the contexts in which they operate. The regulations would be the “floor” for NEPA compliance, not the “ceiling” as per the 2020 regulations.

      The proposed rule will remove language from § 1507.3(a) stating that where existing agency NEPA procedures are ‘‘inconsistent’’ with the CEQ regulations, the CEQ regulations apply ‘‘unless there is a clear and fundamental conflict with the requirements of another statute.’’ The proposed rule also would remove from § 1507.3(b) the language requiring agencies ‘‘to eliminate any inconsistencies’’ with the CEQ regulations and the prohibition on agencies imposing additional procedures or requirements beyond the CEQ regulations unless those additional procedures promote agency efficiency or are required by law. The result will be greater latitude for agencies in how they comply with NEPA and the regulations.

    3. Definition of ‘‘Effects’’ or ‘‘Impacts’’ (§ 1508.1(g)):

      CEQ proposes to restore the definitions of ‘‘direct’’ and ‘‘indirect’’ effects, and ‘‘cumulative impacts’’ from the 1978 NEPA Regulations, 40 CFR 1508.7 and 1508.8 (2019), by incorporating them into the definition of ‘‘effects’’ or ‘‘impacts,’’ such that reference to these terms throughout 40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508 would include direct, indirect, and cumulative effects.

      Direct effects are effects caused by the action and occur at the same time and place. 40 CFR 1508.8(a)).

      Indirect effects are effects caused by the action that are later in time or farther removed in distance but are still reasonably foreseeable. Id. at § 1508.8(b).

      Cumulative effects are effects resulting from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of who undertakes the other actions. Id. at § 1508.7.


      CEQ proposes to remove the language from paragraph (g) in the 2020 regulations that define ‘‘effects’’ as those ‘‘that are reasonably foreseeable and have a reasonably close causal relationship.’’ The proposal also would remove and replace paragraph (g)(2), which states that a ‘‘but for’’ causal relationship is insufficient to make an agency responsible for a particular effect under NEPA; generally excludes effects that are remote in time, geographically remote, or the product of a lengthy causal chain; and fully excludes effects that the agency has no ability to prevent due to its limited statutory authority or would occur regardless of the proposed action. Finally, the proposal also would remove and replace paragraph (g)(3), which states that an agency’s analysis of effects must be consistent with the definition of ‘‘effects’’ and explicitly repeals the definition of cumulative impact in 40 CFR 1508.7 in the 2020 regulations. This language is to be removed because CEQ believes it creates confusion and could be read to improperly narrow the scope of environmental effects relevant to NEPA analysis.

      In short, these changes would remove limitations to Effects analysis that were central to the 2020 regulations.

    So what will the effects from Phase 1 be on cultural resources? If anything, the effects will be positive, specifically the expansion of assessment of indirect and cumulative effects. More attention can be given to effects on cultural resources.

    We will probably have to pay more attention to Phase 2, especially if that addresses stakeholders, consultation, public input, deadlines, and size and time limitations on EAs and EISs.


  • 10/12/2021 3:33 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    CALL FOR PAPERS AND POSTERS
    Vernacular Architecture Forum 2022 Annual Meeting
    May 18 to May 21, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas
    DEADLINE – NOVEMBER 30, 2021

    The Vernacular Architecture Forum invites paper and poster proposals for its 43rd Annual Conference, May 18 to May 21, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. The paper and poster sessions will be on Saturday, May 21. Papers may address topics relating to vernacular and everyday buildings, sites, or cultural landscapes worldwide and how people use these sites. We also welcome papers that explore new methodologies for researching vernacular architecture, or new pedagogies for engaging students in the analysis of everyday buildings and cultural landscapes. Submissions on all relevant topics are welcome. We encourage papers focusing on issues of migration, displacement, de/colonialism, segregation, resistance, gender, sexuality, identity, heritage, equity, and/or justice in the everyday built environment. Those focusing on the vernacular landscapes of Texas, including treatments of its cultural borderlands and its regional relationship to Latin America are also encouraged.

    Students and young professionals may apply for the Pamela H. Simpson Presenter’s Fellowships offering support of up to $500 for presenting papers at VAF’s annual conference.

    CALL FOR PAPERS

    Proposals should clearly state the argument of the paper and explain the methodology and content in fewer than 400 words. Papers should be analytical rather than descriptive. Please include the paper title, author’s name, email address, and a one-page c.v. You may include up to two images with your submission. Proposals for complete sessions are welcome; if you are submitting your proposal as part of a complete session, be sure to indicate this in your submission. As delivered at the conference, each paper should be no more than twenty minutes in length.

    Please note that all presenters must deliver their papers in person and be VAF members at the time of the conference. Speakers must register by March 1, 2022, or their paper will be withdrawn. Please do not submit a proposal if you are not committed to attending the entire conference and delivering your paper on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

    THE DEADLINE FOR PAPER PROPOSALS IS NOVEMBER 30, 2021

    The proposals and c.v. should be emailed as a PDF attachment to the papers committee. All proposals received will be acknowledged. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your paper within one week of its submission, please contact Papers Committee chair Alec Stewart.

    PAMELA H. SIMPSON PRESENTER’S FELLOWSHIPS

    VAF’s Pamela H. Simpson Presenter’s Fellowships offer a limited amount of financial assistance to students and young professionals presenting papers at VAF’s annual conference. Awards are intended to offset travel and registration costs for students, and to attract developing scholars to the organization. Any person presenting a paper who is currently enrolled in a degree-granting program, or who received a degree in 2021, is eligible to apply. Awards cannot exceed $500. Previous awardees are ineligible, even if their status has changed. Recipients are expected to participate fully in the conference, including tours and workshops.

    To apply, submit with your paper proposal a one-page attachment with "Simpson Presenter’s Fellowship" at the top and the following information: 1) name, 2) institution or former institution, 3) degree program, 4) date of degree (received or anticipated), 5) mailing address, 6) permanent email address, 7) telephone number, and 8) paper title.

    CALL FOR POSTERS

    VAF 2022 San Antonio also will host the annual poster session to showcase recently completed research and works-in-progress. Students and emerging scholars are particularly encouraged to submit. The poster proposal may address any topic relating to vernacular and everyday buildings, sites, or cultural landscapes worldwide as described in the first paragraph of this document.

    Proposals should include a title, proposal (no more than 200 words), and a one-page c.v. Accepted presenters will be expected to follow general guidelines regarding poster dimensions but must design, print, and present their posters at the conference. If you have any questions about the posters session, please contact Posters Committee chair PJ Carlino.

    THE DEADLINE FOR POSTER PROPOSALS IS NOVEMBER 30, 2021

    The proposals and c.v. should be emailed as a PDF attachment to the posters committee. All proposals received will be acknowledged. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your poster within one week of its submission, please contact Posters Committee chair PJ Carlino.

    COVID-19: We recognize that COVID-19 makes all plans uncertain. Should circumstances arise that require a shift of plans, we will be in touch with presenters regarding alternate conference plans.

    General information about the San Antonio conference will be posted on November 1, 2021.

    For more information, please visit: https://www.vernaculararchitectureforum.org/2022-Call-For-Papers


  • 10/12/2021 12:00 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.


    Even as the White House continues to negotiate with Congress over his infrastructure and social spending plans (more on that below), President Biden demonstrated that can also make major moves that impact cultural and natural preservation without Congress’ assistance.

    First, on Thursday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a proposed rule undoing changes the Trump administration made to the nation’s cornerstone environmental law.

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the impacts on the environment of any major action, often working in tandem with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 process for considering the impacts of federally-back projects on cultural resources.

    In 2020, the Trump Administration released its revisions to how CEQ will implement NEPA. The rule exempted classes of federal actions from NEPA review and restricted the types of project effects that are examined during the NEPA review process. In addition, the rule allowed agencies to exclude projects from a NEPA review if they determined another process or statute will cover stakeholder concerns. This gave agencies unilateral discretion over which projects merit review under NEPA, limiting the public’s ability to raise concerns about impacts to historic properties. The new rule also significantly expedited the NEPA review process, bypassing or reducing time arbitrarily to implement many of the steps that allowed agencies to listen to, address, and remedy public objections to a project’s impacts.

    The rule also imposed an ill-defined and arbitrary limit on the number of alternatives that agencies can analyze. Further, even if agencies determine a project qualifies for NEPA review, the new rule effectively excluded consideration of any impacts that did not occur as a direct result of the project or in its immediate vicinity. Many impacts of major actions are indirect or happen over time; under the new rule, such impacts would be ignored.

    The draft rule released last week undoes many of these changes, once again requiring federal agencies to conduct a climate analysis of major projects and give affected communities greater input into the process. Brenda Mallory, chair of the CEQ, said in a statement that the changes would not delay major projects because they would make it easier to forge a consensus on how they would be built: “The basic community safeguards we are proposing to restore would help ensure that American infrastructure gets built right the first time, and delivers real benefits — not harms — to people who live nearby. Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help reduce conflict and litigation and help clear up some of the uncertainty that the previous administration’s rule caused.” The rule is open for public comment until Nov. 22.

    The same day, President Biden announced he will restore two national monuments in Utah to their original boundaries. His order will restore the Bears Ears National Monument to the boundaries set in 2016 that covered 1.36 million acres, reversing former President Trump's move that shrunk the monument and broke it into two separate parcels, a decision that also freed oil, natural gas and uranium deposits for potential extraction. Biden will also restore Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to the boundaries that existed before Trump cut it in about half in 2017.

    Meanwhile, Congress and the White House continued their battling over the debt limit and President Biden’s domestic policy agenda. On Thursday, the Senate voted to raise the federal debt limit by $480 billion after 11 Republicans joined with Democrats to overcome a filibuster. The Treasury Department has said that without the increase, the federal government would not be able to pay its debts beyond Oct. 18, triggering a first-ever U.S. government default and potentially roiling the global economy.

    In addition, Democrats continued to negotiate the parameters of their massive social infrastructure bill. What was once expected to be a $3.5 trillion package covering everything from universal pre-Kindergarten and expanded health care access to significant investments fighting climate change is now likely to be closer to a $2 trillion bill. The big debate for Democrats is not deciding what provisions to keep and which to jettison.

    Looking forward, Congress and the White House have several major deadlines facing them: A temporary extension of federal transportation programs ends October 31, while temporary funding for federal agencies runs out in early December, around the same time that the new debt ceiling limit is likely to be reached. Each of these deadlines carries major implications for the broader economy, as government shutdowns and a potential default could push the country back towards recession.

    For Congress, of course, perhaps the biggest deadline of them all is one that is still more than a year away: the 2022 midterm elections, when all House seats and a third of the Senate will be up for grabs. With very narrow majorities in both chambers, Democrats are anxious to deliver results before campaign season kicks into full gear. Expect a busy autumn on Capitol Hill.


  • 10/07/2021 3:46 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), an ACRA Partner, has a podcast that CRM professionals may enjoy!

    Environmental Professional Radio - EPR - brings listeners anything and everything related to being an environmental professional. Topics include career advice and insights, policy updates, women in STEM, and more!

    Recent episodes of interest:

    Tune in each Friday for new episodes!


  • 10/05/2021 3:42 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the ACHP:

    A panel of ACHP members, charged with considering the successes and challenges key stakeholders have had in developing and using Program Comments and identifying actions the ACHP can take to improve their use as a tool for Section 106 review efficiency, recently delivered recommendations to the ACHP Vice Chairman, who is carrying out the duties of the Chairman during that position’s current vacancy. They can be accessed at: https://www.achp.gov/digital-library-section-106-landing/recommendations-program-comment-review-panel. The Vice Chairman has directed staff to begin implementing these recommendations.

    Program Comments (36 CFR § 800.14(e)), one of five program alternatives available in the Section 106 regulations, allow the ACHP to issue comments on a program or class of undertakings in lieu of an agency conducting reviews on a case-by-case basis. The ACHP membership must vote to approve or decline to comment after a 45-day period following an agency’s submission of a formal request for a Program Comment.

    The recommendations outline a series of actions the ACHP will take to develop enhanced guidance and best practices for the development of Program Comment requests and to facilitate communication between requesting federal agencies and the ACHP on questions and concerns so they may be addressed to the extent possible before an agency makes a formal request to the ACHP, starting the 45-day review period. The recommendations do not alter any of the requirements in the regulations but do encourage planning approaches that can assist the federal agency in development of successful Program Comment proposals.

    As updated guidance and best practices are developed per the recommendations, information will be posted on the ACHP’s Program Comment webpage.


  • 10/04/2021 3:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Share Your Expertise & Earn Extra Money -
    2022 ACRA Webinars

    Do you have a great idea for a webinar for CRM professionals? Do you have a presentation you give regularly that you think would be great for a larger audience? If so, we want to hear your proposals - the call for 2022 ACRA webinar sessions is now open!

    We are looking for expert providers to submit applications for online learning opportunities that will be offered on a regular schedule to ACRA members and to the public. We hope to offer a range of topics for sessions, from the technical aspects of cultural resource management to expanding general business skills and knowledge.

    ACRA's 2022 online learning program continues the revenue sharing program in addition to the traditional honorarium. You can view the detailed requirements in the Request for Proposal here. Proposals are due on November 19, 2021.

    You can earn some extra cash and bring your ideas to a larger audience with ACRA's continuing education program - share your ideas with us by November 19!


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