• 02/12/2020 3:28 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Did you miss the Coalition for American Heritage's webinar on the proposed NEPA changes earlier this week? If so, now you can view it on your own time - the recording is available below! Watch to learn how the proposed changes stand to impact cultural resources.

    After you watch, be sure to contact your members of Congress regards your concerns. The Coalition wants to highlight 3 main concerns:

    1. The proposed rule establishes new criteria that will result in fewer actions being subject to NEPA review; however, these criteria are very ambiguous and undefined, and may result in no NEPA review for actions that will have a significant effect on the human environment.

    2. The new rules unnecessarily limit public involvement.

    3. For those projects subject to NEPA review, the alternatives analysis will be constrained and will lead to poor decision-making.

    The Coalition has provided full draft text for you to use to contact your legislators - click here to take action!

  • 02/11/2020 3:17 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    President Trump released his budget proposal for FY 2021 yesterday, and his plan includes substantial cuts historic preservation programs. The Coalition for American Heritage, of which ACRA is a founding member, has provided a detailed analysis on the proposal:

    The President’s budget reduces monies for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) by $77.988 million compared to this year ($40.672 million vs. $118.66 million). Funding for state historic preservation offices would be slashed almost in half. Tribal historic preservation offices would get $5.738 million – just 42% of the funding they received this year. Furthermore, the President’s budget proposes to eliminate funds for key preservation programs like Save America’s Treasures, Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants, and competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the African-American struggle for civil rights.

    The President again proposed reducing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from $162.25 million each to $30.175 million for NEA and $33.419 million for NEH – money designated to fund shutting down both programs. He also proposed reducing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund from $495.193 million this year to $14.752 million in the next fiscal year.

    If the President’s budget proposal were to be adopted, it would endanger cultural resources throughout the nation. Therefore, the Coalition for American Heritage is working with preservation supporters to demonstrate to Congress the need for investments in historic preservation. For the past several years, since the Coalition was formed, Congress has allocated ever-increasing amounts to historic preservation programs. Last year’s budget included a record-high of $118.66 million for the HPF. This year, we will continue pursuing increases for these vital programs.

    ACRA and the other member organizations of the Coalition for American Heritage are committed to supporting cultural research and historic preservation work by asking for increases to these programs. Read the full post here, including a detailed list of funding levels the Coalition will pursue with Congress.

  • 02/07/2020 2:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post originally appeared on the Commonwealth Heritage Group news blog. Commonwealth Heritage Group is an ACRA member firm headquartered in Dexter, Michigan.


    The Great Lakes are a beautiful place that we at Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. (Commonwealth) call home. Thousands of years of history line the shores, and millions of people continue to visit the Great Lakes to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and historic buildings and communities. However, the Great Lakes region has recently seen record high water levels that are causing our shorelines to erode and flood. Communities that are vulnerable to these environmental changes line the Great Lakes. In addition to eroding our beaches and shorelines, the high water levels have been directly impacting historic buildings, damaging homes, buildings, and entire communities—leaving property owners wondering if the buildings should even be saved.

    That’s why Commonwealth wants to do our part by helping property owners and communities across the Great Lakes region help in the fight to protect their historic resources. If you or someone you know has a historic landmark, structure, or building that has been impacted by or is vulnerable to the high-water levels, contact us today! Our staff will document the historic resource(s) to record the characteristics that make it a historic property, as well as assess the potential damage of the threatening situation.

    Contact us today to learn more about how we can help at (517) 262-3376 or email us at ajweir@chg-inc.com.

    How do you know if you have a historic landmark, structure, or building?

    In general, a historic resource is at least 50 years old. It must retain its historic physical integrity, which means that it is relatively unchanged. Last, it must have a direct association with an individual, event, development, or activity that significantly contributed to our history, or it may embody the distinctive characteristics of a type of architecture.

    Why is it important to document my historic property?

    Documenting your historic property helps connect the past, present, and future. Documentation helps honor and recognize history, and it can help preserve the past for future generations.

    How does this help me?

    Documenting your property can help build community pride and knowledge about a place’s history. It can also be a draw for tourism. And you never know what interesting historical facts may turn up.

  • 02/06/2020 3:54 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    26th Annual ACRA Conference
    CRM: Bridging Agencies, Industries, and the Community
    September 23-27, 2020 | Menger Hotel | San Antonio, Texas

    Do you have a topic that you think would be perfect for a presentation to fellow CRMers? Is there a discussion the industry should be having? If so, we want to hear from you!

    The Call for Sessions for the 2020 ACRA Conference in San Antonio is open!

    This year’s conference theme — CRM: Bridging Agencies, Industries, and the Community — highlights the important role CRM firms fill, from helping clients successfully navigate established processes to ensuring that the voices of community members are heard.

    Consider submitting a session proposal for our 2020 event. Sessions can:

    • Reflect a variety of CRM topics, from business operations to best practices and beyond;
    • Involve an individual speaker, a suite of presenters, or a panel;
    • Revolve around a presentation or an interactive activity;
    • Last between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on the topic.

    It is through member participation that our conference program can expand each year, bringing new ideas and evoking teamwork as we strive to make our industry stronger. Click here to learn more about the submission requirements, and hurry - proposals are due March 15!

  • 02/04/2020 4:43 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Have you checked out the ACRA Savings Marketplace yet? ALL employees of ACRA member firms are eligible to access this great benefit. 
    Get the code to register on our members-only page now!

    Get the Code NOW

  • 01/30/2020 1:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The following post was authored by Shawn Patch of New South Associates.

    In the January meeting of the ACRA Government Relations Committee, we discussed the importance of expanding ACRA’s advocacy to include the state and local levels. I have previously participated in CRM Day on the Hill, but until now had not reached out to North Carolina state legislators.

    On January 28, 2020, state representative Mary Price (Pricey) Harrison (NC61) visited our office in Greensboro, North Carolina. The timing worked well because the legislature just completed a special session and does not begin its regular session until April.

    Pricey spent about 45 minutes with us and we discussed a range of topics. We gave her an overview of CRM with specific examples of state-level projects (transportation, mass transit, and renewable energy) and explained the federal regulatory framework. We also talked about state tax credits for renovating historic properties and she lamented that they have been eliminated in North Carolina. It was clear to us that she understands the value of historic preservation.

    We came away with several important outcomes:

    • First, she is now aware of our business in her district. 
    • Second, she has expressed an interest in specifically tightening state statutes regarding cemeteries and how they are treated as development pressures intensify. 
    • Third, she agreed to look into the funding sources for the NC SHPO and consider expanding that state’s contribution (we emphasized the need for digitizing paper records and GIS). Admittedly, this is a heavy lift given the current atmosphere in NC. 
    • And finally, we let her know that New South and ACRA can be a resource for any issues related to cultural resources at the state level.

    Overall, it was a great meeting and we are grateful for her time. She is a strong supporter of the environment and historic preservation, so this was a fun meeting for all of us.

  • 01/28/2020 1:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Trump Administration is proposing dramatic changes to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that will affect cultural resources. The proposed changes would reduce public input, place arbitrary timelines on the environmental review process, and exempt an array of projects from any review at all. The Coalition for American Heritage, of which ACRA is a founding member, is hosting a FREE webinar to give you a better look into the proposed NEPA changes and their impact on cultural resources.

    Join Coalition staff for on February 10 at 2:00 PM EST for What You Need to Know about the Administration's Proposed NEPA Changes. Attendees will get an overview of the proposed changes and how they could impact CRM work. You will also learn how you can make your voice heard during the public comment process, from communicating with Congress and the Administration to discussing the issue with your colleagues and community.

    These changes could potentially affect the work you do every day - register now to stay informed!

    Register Now: What You Need to
    Know about the Administration's
    Proposed NEPA Changes

  • 01/24/2020 4:33 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!

    • Applied Archaeology and Associates has monitoring construction sites in Annapolis for archaeological finds, and recently they came across a 19th-century ice well. Read about the significance of the find in the Capital Gazette.
    • A.D. Marble recovered over 1,000 artifacts during a recent survey of an 1800s-era farm in Delaware. Learn more about their findings and why the site is ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places in the Cape Gazette.
    • In 2019 ACRA member firm Desert Archaeology, Inc. worked on a project at the prehistoric site Los Pozos in Arizona. Read how their dig has helped reveal new information about maize farming in the region in this excerpt from American Archaeology Magazine.
    • New South Associates, Inc. is working with MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL to search for a forgotten African-American cemetery, Read more about the search for Port Tampa Cemetery in the Tampa Bay Times.
    • ACRA member firms Desert Archaeology, Inc. and Logan Simpson were among those approved for on-call archaeological services in Scottsdale, AZ. Congratulations to these firms, and read more about the contracts and potential projects in the Scottsdale Independent.
    • Public Archaeology Lab has been working stakeholders in Somerset, MA to designate a portion of the town as a National Historic District. Read more about Somerset Village, its period architecture, and its history in this piece from South Coast Today.
    • Rising sea levels are affecting archaeological sites on both coasts - you can learn more about how Dovetail Cultural Resource Group is working with the Virginia Department of Historic Preservation to assess sites in Virginia Beach, including the creation of a predictive model in both the Virginian Pilot and Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

  • 01/22/2020 4:16 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has just announced that they have adopted a new strategic plan. From the ACHP press release: 

    The ACHP is proud to announce the December 5, 2019, adoption of a new strategic plan. Previous versions were adopted in 2011 and updated in 2014.

    The ACHP receives direction from the Office of Management and Budget which states: “The Strategic Plan...presents the long-term objectives an agency hopes to accomplish at the beginning of each new term of an Administration by describing general and long-term goals the agency aims to achieve, what actions the agency will take to realize those goals, and how the agency will deal with challenges and risks that may hinder achieving results.”

    The updated strategic plan offers a new vision statement and cross cutting objective, and reinforces the agency’s desire to expand efficiencies in review of federal projects under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

    The draft strategic plan was made available for public comment in the summer of 2019. In August ACRA submitted a substantive, 7-page letter, that urged the agency to showcase best practices, expand its relationship with tribes, utilize new technology to assist in project planning, and more. These comments were crafted with the direct input of the ACRA Government Relations Committee and other members.

    ACRA is still reviewing the final strategic plan to determine exactly how it will affect the way that CRM firms handle projects, and we will follow up with this information in another post shortly. In the meantime, take a look at the new strategic plan here, and you can review the full press release and additional information from the ACHP on their website.

  • 01/17/2020 1:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) both require federal agencies to provide the public with information regarding the impacts of their projects on environmental and cultural resources and then engage the public regarding the minimization or mitigation of impacts to resources. The NEPA and Section 106 processes often run concurrently and occasionally, the NEPA process is substituted for the Section 106 Process.

    ACRA and the NAEP have joined forces to present Harnessing the Power of the People in NEPA and Section 106 Compliance on February 20 at 3:00 pm EST. This webinar will provide concrete examples of successful public engagement processes utilized by a variety of agencies including the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Air Force, and the Federal Transit Authority.

    Our expert panel, including a Section 106 expert, a NEPA expert, a representative of a Federal Agency, and a representative of the ACHP, will review how agencies can and have engaged the public during the NEPA and Section 106 processes to refine and enhance their projects. Attendees should walk away with a better understanding of the public participation process and with several examples of successful public interactions. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panel at the end of the presentation.

    Register now to reserve your spot!

    Register for Harnessing the Power of the People

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