• 09/02/2020 3:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the Center for Biological Diversity has obtained a list of the projects that have been expedited in response to President Trump's Executive Order (EO) issued in June. The EO directed federal agencies to waive environmental regulations to speed up infrastructure projects under the auspices of responding to the “economic emergency” presented by the COVID-19 pandemic (more on the EO here).

    Over 50 major projects are on the list, which can be found here on pages 4 and 5. If one of your projects is on this list, we want to hear from you! How the order is being implemented directly affects the practice of cultural resource management across the country, and details on how individual projects are affected is key to ensuring the we are able to continue our efforts to protect the industry.

    Our greatest strength is you - our network of advocates across the country. Let us know in the comments below or via email if one of your projects is on this list.

  • 09/01/2020 1:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    An event of interest to CRM firms is the upcoming Suquamish Tribe's Cultural Resource Protection Summit. The 13th Annual Summit will be held virtually on October 20 and 21, 2020. The theme of this year's summit is Telling the Stories of Who We Are.

    From the event organizers:

    The 2020 Cultural Resource Protection Summit marks our 13th gathering, and as your well-being is always our greatest concern, we are going Virtual!! Our Summit family is still hard at work fulfilling the mission we have had since the Summit’s inception: The primary goal in organizing the annual Summit has been to facilitate amongst all affected parties an open, frank discussion about the intersection between cultural resources and land use. The Summit is designed to promote collaborative cultural resource planning as an effective means of finding resolution to issues before they escalate into emotionally-charged, divisive, and expensive stalemates or law suits.

    This year, the Summit agenda includes an engaging array of cutting-edge topics that will encourage attendees to examine the ways we tell (or should be telling) the stories of the cultural resources we are responsible for protecting and how engaging storytelling might shape innovative solutions for today’s most pressing challenges to effective cultural resource protection. A tripartite Keynote, panel discussions, lightning talks, and small group discussions will highlight useful examples of the links between engaging CRM stories and responsible land use. We will also reserve time for Q&A and general socializing. It will be a much-needed boost to see one another, even if it must be virtually for now!

    Please join us online for a two humanely-paced days that will help you improve your technical skills while deepening your connection to why we do this work. Then, with renewed commitment, move forward with helpful tools for protecting cultural resources and sharing the important stories they tell.

    Event sponsors (including some ACRA member firms!) have donated registrations to assist those experiencing financial hardship. For more information on the free registrations, contact Mary Rossi.

    Click here to view the event flyer. To register and view more details, please visit the event website.

  • 08/28/2020 3:53 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    With the 2020 Annual Conference going virtual, ACRA has the opportunity to unveil some new sponsorship benefits! While we updated our conference-related sponsor benefit program last year, the virtual option has allowed us to include some new options specific to the virtual conference. Check out the full list of conference sponsorship options below, and contact us to learn more!

    If you are interested in our non-conference benefits as well, contact Executive Director Amanda Stratton for more information on our expanded year-round sponsor benefits.

  • 08/27/2020 4:13 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As the pandemic continues, many CRM firms have wondered how the impacts to state budgets will affect both ongoing and future projects. Many states are facing budgets cuts due to decreased tax revenue, and both SHPO offices and infrastructure projects could be affected as a result.

    CRM firms can play an integral role in ensuring that SHPO offices and state historic preservation efforts receive adequate funding this fall, and ACRA is here to help. Because the budget discussions in each state vary widely, the best place to start is to meet with your state's SHPO and/or state archaeologist. ACRA has compiled a list of resources to make requesting and holding these meetings as fast as possible, including a sample meeting request and a list of suggested questions. If you are having trouble finding the contact information for your SHPO or state archaeologist, let us know and we can easily provide that for you.

    Once you have a clear picture of the historic preservation budget discussions in your state, you can reach out to your state legislators to tell them about the importance of this funding to both businesses and the larger community. If you do hold a meeting with your SHPO or state archaeologist, please submit a brief summary of the meeting in this report back form.

    What else can you do? Reach out to your Senators now to encourage them to pass relief legislation that includes funding for states and historic preservation. Securing funding for states is a priority to ensure that SHPOs can continue to operate and vital infrastructure projects continue.

    If you are interested in partnering with other firms in your state for meetings with the SHPO and/or state archaeologist, let us know and we will connect you with others working on meetings as well.

    Feel free to comment below with any questions, and thank you for your continued commitment to promoting a thriving CRM industry!

  • 08/24/2020 5:03 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Society for American Archaeology is hosting a virtual panel this Wednesday aimed at students and professionals just starting out in their careers. Demystifying CRM Careers aims to covers a wide range of topics, including professional development, challenges and resources, the future of CRM, and more.

    The discussion panel will be held this Wednesday, August 26 from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT. Attendees will also get a chance to get their questions answered about starting a career in cultural resource management. 

    ACRA Secretary Deborah Cox and ACRA Government Relations Committee Chair Kimball Banks are both featured panelists. The panel is free, but is open only to SAA members - more information and registration instructions are available here.

    If you are looking for a job in CRM right now, be sure to check out the ACRA job board!

  • 08/21/2020 12:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • Negotiations over additional pandemic relief legislation are deadlocked. Republicans may put forward a smaller bill that will also address the current issues with the Postal Service. 
      • In addition to the provisions for individual businesses, ACRA has been monitoring state funding in the relief packages. Securing funding for states is a priority to ensure that SHPOs can continue to operate and vital infrastructure projects continue. We are working on resources for you to take action on this and expect to have them available in the coming days. How you can help immediately: please contact your Senators and encourage them to pass relief legislation that includes funding for state budgets/historic preservation.
    • Congress is expected to pass an omnibus bill to fund federal agencies through mid- November, when the results of the election will hopefully be known. A continuing resolution is also on the table for accomplishing this if a bill does not get passed.
    • National Park Service Director David Vela abruptly chose to retire after 30 years with the NPS. He had served as Acting Director through a series of temporary orders, but was never confirmed. He is being replaced by Margaret Everson, who has previous experience at the Department of the Interior under the George W. Bush administration. More information on Vela's departure is available in The Hill.
    • President Trump withdrew the nomination of William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management after strong opposition to the appointment. Pendley has been acting as BLM's director since July 2019. The President withdrew the nomination "amid signs that the choice would hurt the reelection prospects of Republican Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.)." Read more on the withdrawal in the Washington Post.
    • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced his opposition to mining around the Grand Canyon, citing its importance to area tribes.
    • The Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act was introduced by Senator John Tester (MT). The bill would permanently protect 130,000 acres of the Badger-Two Medicine as a “cultural heritage area”, a first-of-its- kind designation that could potentially usher in a new national system for protecting public lands in Indian Country.
    • President Trump announced that he is donating $100,000 of his salary to the National Park Service for the repair of monuments.
    • The task force on the National Monument Garden created by President Trump’s July Executive Order must submit site recommendations by August 31. 
    • The Senate passed legislation commemorating the centennial of Route 66. The bill establishes a commission to study and provide recommendations on "activities that are fitting and proper to celebrate that anniversary in a manner that appropriately honors the Mother Road of the United States."
    • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved two bills on regulations by a vote of 8 to 5:
      • S. 92, the "Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act," which would require Congress to approve economically significant regulations, or rules that are projected to cost $100 million or more. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who introduced the bill, said the measure would rein in the whims of "unelected bureaucrats."
      • Sen. Rob Portman’s bill (R-OH), S. 4077, the "Unfunded Mandates Accountability and Transparency Act," would provide more information about the impact of regulations on the private sector and make "the agencies much more accountable."
  • 08/20/2020 3:34 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    In June, The Society for Black Archaeologists (SBA), the Theoretical Archaeology Group, and the Columbia Center for Archaeology joined forces to present "Archaeology in the Time of Black Lives Matter." This panel discussion explores ways to engage with the insights and challenges of this moment in archaeological practice, including making sustainable systemic changes in the discipline. Topics explored include capacity building and community engagement, pedagogical and curricular strategies, and how to diversify and rethink research themes and the presentation of archaeological heritages. You can watch the full recording of the panel discussion here.

    After the initial panel, participants gathered for a workshop geared towards creating a resource guide that would rest as the foundation of an an anti-racist archaeological praxis. This evolving resource guide will be updated periodically and includes helpful texts, scholarship/fellowship opportunities, archaeological and historic research links, and more. Access the full resource list here.

    Check out the SBA website for more information on other resources and upcoming events.

  • 08/18/2020 3:44 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Technical Writing for CRM: Developing More Efficient Communication

    September 10, 2020 | 2:00 pm EDT | Register Now

    The vast majority of writing in cultural resources management is for non-archaeological audiences, yet the writing guidelines traditionally used in modern CRM adhere to centuries-old writing style that conflates our meaning because it dictates that scientists remove themselves from their work in order to appear objective ― what is called a legacy value. This passive and intransitive type of writing is not only difficult and slow to read, it is expensive to write, edit, and produce, so much so that many academic publishers are abandoning the “academic voice” for this reason.

    In contract archaeology, however, the workplace has been slow to change. Plain language would greatly help cultural resources reports become more accessible and transparent to non-archaeological audiences. This approach to technical writing also can empower all CRM practitioners with the tools and training to produce consistent results of the highest quality.

    Join us on Thursday, September 10 at 2:00 pm EDT for Technical Writing for CRM: Developing More Efficient Communication. This webinar will go into detail on the new style of technical writing meant to engage not just colleagues, but also clients and the general public. It will benefit both junior and senior practitioners by helping them understand the difference between technical and scientific writing, while managers and reviewers also will get the tools to evaluate work on a consistent basis. Attendees will learn how to use a few simple tenets of the style to be more efficient in the workplace while also being more responsive to the needs of the public audiences they serve.

    As a reminder, ACRA has instituted a firm-wide registration policy for member firms during the pandemic - once one person registers and pay the fee for this session, all other employees of the firm are eligible to attend for free. Contact us to learn more about getting this access for your employees.

    Register for Technical Writing in CRM Now

  • 08/14/2020 2:32 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If you missed yesterday's webinar on data preservation and access in the digital age of CRM, it is now available on demand for you to watch on your own schedule!

    Over the past decade, archaeology fieldwork, lab processing, and analysis has changed dramatically, driven primarily by developments in technology, computing, and the internet. Online digital repositories are one tool that can help in the integration and successful analysis of data in this changing environment. To better facilitate data-use in the Big-Data era, it is recommended that CRM practitioners incorporate digital archiving into their daily workflows.

    In this presentation, our expert presenters provide an overview and specific examples of the ways digital repositories can be used to improve your own operations, as well as enhancing research across broader archaeological contexts.

    As with the live session, this webinar is available to ACRA members at a discounted price. Members can get the discount code to access the presentation here.

    Watch Data Preservation and Access
    in the Digital Age of CRM Now

  • 08/12/2020 4:40 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As expected, legal challenges to the changes to the NEPA regulations unveiled in July have been filed by various groups. Three major actions have been filed in (follow links to see full complaints):

    The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a press release last week regarding the suit filed in New York:

    A broad coalition of justice and environmental groups sued the Trump administration today over its regulations that would gut environmental reviews and silence community input.

    The rules from the Council on Environmental Quality would eliminate environmental reviews for many projects, curtail the harmful impacts that are considered when reviews do take place, and hinder public participation. The parties filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

    “We are standing up today to ensure each of us is guaranteed the right to a healthy and safe community,” said Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance. “The Trump administration’s assault on democracy undermines our ability to fight egregious projects and gives industry free rein to put pipelines through our backyards or incinerators near our schools.”

    Read the full release from the NRDC here. ACRA and its partners at the Coalition for American Heritage are reviewing the challenges and determining whether and how adding our voice would be appropriate. Stayed tuned to the ACRAsphere for more information on these lawsuits and the implementation of the new NEPA guidelines.

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