Members of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation met March 13, 2020, at the National Building Museum. Chairman Aimee Jorjani announced the winner of the Chairman’s Award for Achievement in Historic Preservation, given the night before to the U.S. Army and partners for the rehabilitation of Building 2101, the former Black Officers Club, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Chairman Jorjani also swore in new Expert Member Jay Vogt, the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Officer. Executive Director John Fowler announced Kirsten Kulis, who has served as the ACHP’s General Services Administration liaison, is the new National Park Service (NPS) liaison. He noted the recruitment for an Army and a GSA liaison is underway. Mr. Fowler also gave an overview of the ACHP’s response to the coronavirus and how the Section 106 process and staff work will continue.
Members discussed a number of innovations and changes to the ACHP’s operations and member communications. Of particular note were a new section of the ACHP website for members’ resources and the creation of a special web-based file sharing space that would provide information on Section 106 program alternatives and facilitate member review and comment. General Counsel Javier Marques presented a proposed process to guide the ACHP when commenting on federal agency rulemaking proposals. The members found the approach generally acceptable and suggested some additional refinements.
Members voted to add new Observers to the ACHP: a representative of the Preserve America Youth Summit program and the National Endowment for the Humanities or the National Endowment of the Arts or Institute of Museum and Library Services. Members also voted to remove the Environmental Protection Agency as an Observer.
Members voted unanimously to convey to Congress their support of the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide $9.5 billion for addressing the maintenance needs of the National Park System and other public lands.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Smith of the Department of Transportation gave an overview of the Administration’s approach to major transportation legislation. Members conveyed their interest and the value of involving the ACHP in the legislative efforts.
Members discussed the work of the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing and how it intersected with historic preservation. The discussion directed a path forward to re-examine the ACHP’s existing policy statement from 2006 and continuing to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on future endeavors.
Preservation in Practice received praise from members, now in its third year with three colleges scheduled for 2020. Expert Member Robert Stanton stressed the importance of members supporting the students through employment, internships, or mentoring. Members also discussed preservation trades and how the ACHP is working to help with curriculum and standards for accreditation. Chairman Jorjani announced she would be convening a Traditional Trades Training Task Force in the coming weeks to guide the ACHP’s work in this area.
The Digital Information Task Force received member approval to move forward with useful suggestions. The Task Force report is now final, and implementation will depend heavily on member participation. The Task Force will be gathering and presenting success stories on the use of digital information, publicizing best practices that support historic preservation planning, and informing leadership and budget managers to promote funding and implementation strategies.
Office of Federal Agency Programs Director Reid Nelson updated members on the preparation of the ACHP’s triennial Report to the President on federal stewardship, to be submitted in February 2021. The ACHP will be sending guidance to agencies working on their reports that must be submitted to the ACHP Chairman and the Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Nelson reported that the guidance and report to the President will focus on two major themes this time, dealing with digital information and leveraging historic federal buildings for new uses. Member discussion supported this direction.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr called in to the meeting and presented information on the buildout of the small cell or 5G wireless network. Native American Member Reno Franklin and National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers Chairman Shasta Gaughen urged the FCC to work with the tribal community effectively and with respect.
Mr. Franklin discussed the Tohono O’odham Nation and the impact of border wall construction upon its sacred sites. He urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to do better consultation with tribes as construction progresses and respect the traditions of all affected tribes. Teresa Pohlman from DHS responded that the agency wants to work collaboratively with Indian tribes and draw upon tribal expertise for the projects it undertakes.
Chairman Jorjani announced the summer business meeting is planned for July 8-9 and the fall meeting for October 21-22 in Washington, D.C.