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Home arrow News arrow New ACHP Program Direction Outlined in Chairman's Statement to House Appropriations Committee
New ACHP Program Direction Outlined in Chairman's Statement to House Appropriations Committee

April 22, 2002, Washington, DC—In his recent Statement for the Record to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) Chairman John L. Nau, III, outlined ACHP's recent achievements in historic preservation partnerships, Federal stewardship of historic properties, and historic preservation program initiatives.

"Since November, we have taken steps to reorganize the membership and the staff to better use the talents possessed by our Presidential appointees and Federal policymakers," wrote the Chairman. "I am pleased to share with the subcommittee some successes and some works in progress."

Chairman Nau's Statement for the Record is reprinted below.

CHAIRMAN, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

APRIL 2002

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is an independent Federal agency established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA, 16 U.S.C. 470f). ACHP advises the President and Congress on historic preservation matters, administers the public review and consultation process for Federal undertakings established by Section 106 of NHPA, and works to improve Federal policies, programs, planning, and decisions when they affect the Nation's historic and cultural resources.

Last November I was sworn in as Chairman of ACHP. Since then, I have been working closely with the membership of ACHP to chart a new course for our agency. While we acknowledge that our conduct of the Section 106 process remains a unique and critical ACHP responsibility, we also understand that ACHP's mission is broader than simply managing the Federal historic preservation review process. We have committed ourselves to promoting the preservation and appreciation of historic properties across the Nation. We are now embarking upon new paths to reach that goal.

Under NHPA, Congress laid out a far-reaching policy directing the Federal Government to assume a leadership role in the protection and enhancement of our Nation's cultural patrimony. Among other things, the statute directed Federal agencies to foster conditions to attain the national goal of historic preservation; to act as faithful stewards of federally owned, administered, or controlled historic resources for present and future generations; and to offer maximum encouragement and assistance to other public and private preservation efforts through a variety of means.

In creating ACHP, Congress recognized the value of having an independent entity to provide advice, coordination, and oversight of NHPA's implementation by Federal agencies. ACHP remains the only Federal entity created solely to address historic preservation issues, and helps to bridge differences in this area among Federal agencies, and between the Federal Government and States, Indian tribes, local governments, and citizens.

ACHP provides advice to the President and Congress on matters that affect, and are affected by, historic preservation concerns. We are now gearing up to pursue that role more aggressively than in the past. I see the unique position of ACHP as ideally suited to fulfill the vision of NHPA and have the Federal Government truly assume the preservation leadership role with which it is charged.

Since November, we have taken steps to reorganize the membership and the staff to better use the talents possessed by our Presidential appointees and Federal policymakers and to improve the interaction between them and our capable professional staff. This new organization focuses on three major program areas: preservation initiatives; Federal agency programs; and communications, education and outreach. While little more than a month old, the new structure is already showing results, both in concrete products and in revitalizing the agency.

ACHP's recent achievements fall into three primary categories: partnership, stewardship, and initiative. While we are still in the early stages of redirecting ACHP's focus, I am pleased to share with the subcommittee some successes and some works in progress. I believe these are indicative of ACHP's new directions and its potential.

Partnership. As ACHP turns more of its attention to promoting preservation activities, partnerships become an increasingly important way to leverage resources and reach broader audiences. In particular, we see the opportunity to work with State, tribal, and local government and the private sector to realize the potential of historic properties as economic assets.

From my experience in Texas, I know that heritage tourism is one of the best examples of this synergy. We are currently working on a proposal for a major Administration initiative to promote heritage tourism through partnerships. At its recent business meeting, ACHP members moved that initiative forward, refining the initial staff proposal. Complementing the development of this initiative, we have become a formal member of the Secretary of Commerce's Tourism Policy Council, a key group that helps coordinate Administration policy and advises the Administration on tourism issues. We see our presence as providing a voice for heritage tourism at the table and laying the foundation for partnering with other Federal agencies concerned with this vital national industry.

We have also been building new partnerships in our traditional role of protecting historic properties through the Section 106 process. We recently completed a cooperative effort with the natural gas pipeline industry to streamline the review process for actions affecting historic pipelines. This landmark achievement was the first use of ACHP's authority under NHPA to create exemptions from the act and will remove impediments to managing energy transmission systems. Closely related has been our involvement in the White House Energy Task Force, where we serve as the expert on historic preservation issues. With our support, the task force will soon execute an interagency agreement to expedite environmental reviews, including historic preservation, for natural gas pipeline projects.

I am also pleased to report another achievement in partnership with our sister preservation agency, the National Park Service. For several years ACHP has been examining how NPS manages historic properties that are located in park areas that are primarily significant for natural resource values. We had seen a number of cases where the natural resource value "trumped" the historic resource value. Working closely with NPS, we jointly agreed that protecting both values was not inherently inconsistent, but did require careful balancing of the values based on early recognition and sensitive planning. ACHP adopted a policy statement in November 2001, which the director of NPS recently endorsed and sent to NPS field managers. We are now working with NPS to broaden the application of the policy statement to all Federal land-managing agencies.

We are also strengthening our partnerships with the non-Federal preservation community. We have recently reached agreement with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to co-sponsor an award for outstanding public-private partnership in historic preservation. We see the programs of the National Trust and statewide historic preservation organizations as essential complements to ACHP's efforts to promote historic preservation nationwide.

Stewardship. ACHP has long advocated better Federal stewardship of historic properties both as a necessary aspect of managing significant federally owned historic properties and as an example to other historic property owners. In 2001, ACHP submitted its report, Caring for the Past, Managing for the Future, to the President and Congress. The report assessed the state of Federal stewardship and made recommendations to improve the Government's efforts in this important area.

Since assuming office, I have been working closely with the Federal members of ACHP and the Administration to develop an Executive order to embody the report's recommendations, with the addition of provisions to encourage Federal-nonfederal partnerships to advance heritage tourism and other economically beneficial activity through better use of federally owned historic assets. I hope to be able to report the successful conclusion of that effort in the near future.

Initiative. While managing the Section 106 process has been the traditional centerpiece of ACHP's work and will remain an important component in the future, there are many other ways to achieve ACHP's mission to promote the preservation of historic properties. What ACHP has been doing over the past several months is to identify new ways to use its unique position and authorities to advance this goal. While the precise form has not been finalized, ACHP is committed to taking positive, innovative steps on two fronts.

First, in the Section 106 area, ACHP is identifying longstanding issues that have caused concern to Federal agencies, State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and the public. Using the skills and perspective of its members acting through the Federal Agency Programs Committee, ACHP is setting priorities for tackling these issues and will develop strategies to achieve measurable results in solving Section 106 problems. High on our list is better coordination between Section 106 and Section 4f of the Department of Transportation Act and Federal Communications Commission reviews of cellular telephone towers. By taking the initiative to resolve issues such as these, ACHP not only removes impediments from the Section 106 process but also makes the process more effective for saving historic properties.

Our second front is newer and still taking shape. This is the development of program initiatives to advance economically sound uses for historic properties. High on our list is the development of a Federal partnership initiative to promote heritage tourism at the State and local level. We seek to encourage Federal agencies to build partnerships with governmental and private organizations that deal with tourism, making available the rich diversity of historic assets in the Federal inventory. We also seek to share successful strategies and tools that we learn about or develop, based on our unique national perspective and our longstanding partnerships within the preservation community. Guided by ACHP's Preservation Initiatives Committee, these efforts should be underway by the start of the 2003 fiscal year.

ACHP is funded at $3.4 million for FY 2002, supporting a staff of 34 FTEs. Our FY 2003 budget request reflects a transition to our agency's new direction. The President's budget for FY 2003 requests $3.77 million and 34 FTEs for ACHP. This figure reflects an adjustment to base funding to address the increased cost of doing business, and includes no new program initiatives or additional personnel. It does, however, provide us with a firm foundation for making the adjustment to new program priorities and to seek expanded reimbursable agreements and partnerships with other Federal agencies. We expect to use this base to develop our new program direction, demonstrate our ability to achieve worthwhile results with it and garner support for expanding our activities in the future.

We at ACHP are excited about the opportunities before us. Historic preservation can play an important role in educating the American public about the fundamental values that have made this country great and at the same time stimulate the economic development and investment that will revitalize communities and ensure the long-term preservation of our heritage assets.

I am pleased with the strong support I find from the President and members of his Administration for our goals, and look forward to working with Congress to promote what I believe is a critical national program.

Updated May 2, 2002

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