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ACHP Addresses Priority Ideas from Preserve America Summit

At its winter business meeting February 22-23, 2007 in Washington, D.C., the ACHP agreed on a set of preliminary priority recommendations from the Preserve America Summit that are intended to advance the national historic preservation program 40 years after passage of the National Historic Preservation Act.

“A testament to the foresight of its framers, the National Historic Preservation Act has preserved thousands of places important to our heritage since 1966 and built a comprehensive preservation program that has served the nation well,” said John L. Nau, III, ACHP chairman. “The Preserve America Summit allowed us to examine how we can improve it for the future. Today we have taken a major step toward that goal.”

The ACHP reviewed priority ideas developed from the Preserve America Summit, a national conference hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States and Honorary Chair of Preserve America. That conference brought together more than 450 preservationists, government officials, and stakeholders to examine the preservation program. The Summit was based on a series of expert panel reports and discussions. Follow-up public comment and consultation with federal and non-federal partners further informed the ACHP’s review. The ACHP evaluated more than 60 ideas that emerged during the Summit process.

The priority ideas that will be considered for inclusion in the ACHP’s final report and recommendations include the following:

  • Create a comprehensive inventory of historic properties through a multi-year plan that expands current inventories and makes them more compatible and accessible.
  • Promote cultural diversity in the National Register of Historic Places by evaluating the National Register for its inclusiveness and encouraging local, state, and tribal governments to evaluate their own inventories.
  • Respond to disasters by forming a technical advisory committee to develop guidance, a plan for dissemination and training, and emergency and mitigation strategies consistent with the National Response Plan.
  • Address security needs by developing guidance, including guidance on all-hazards risk assessment.
  • Conserve cultural collections by pursuing cost-effective collaboration between the historic preservation community and the broader cultural heritage community, including support for the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ “Connecting to Collections” initiative.
  • Promote innovative technologies by creating a clearinghouse through the National Park Service National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to disseminate information and encourage the use of innovative technologies.
  • Measure and share preservation’s benefits by developing consistent ways to measure direct and indirect economic impacts and pursuing and promoting necessary research.
  • Provide more technical assistance to local communities to promote historic preservation and heritage tourism, and explore the concept of a Preserve America Community agent or similar mechanism to work more actively with local communities.
  • Increase synergy between the development community and public sector partners by implementing improvements to the Federal Historic Preservation Tax incentives and seeking ways to expand use of federal financial assistance programs for historic preservation.
  • Enhance heritage education by developing a communication strategy that takes advantage of Web sites, curriculum guides, and other outreach to the educational community.
  • Engage youth in historic preservation through a variety of means, including possible establishment of an ongoing youth summit as part of the Preserve America initiative.
  • Optimize U.S. participation in the international preservation arena by improving information exchange and facilitating U.S. participation in international preservation activities.  

Two additional ideas related to evaluation of the federal historic preservation program structure and ways to promote and build public-private partnerships in support of historic preservation will be examined in more detail through a subcommittee of ACHP members headed by ACHP Vice Chairman Susan Barnes.

While there are numerous ideas in addition to those the ACHP has selected as priorities where no immediate action is proposed, this does not mean the ACHP believes those ideas lack merit. On the contrary, there are some excellent suggestions that we expect will form part of the longer-range agenda for consideration and possible implementation.

Further action including final approval is expected at the May 2007 ACHP quarterly business meeting. The ideas will be embodied in a published report from the ACHP.

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