National Trust for Historic Preservation: America’s Great Outdoors initiative

Dear Coalition Friends:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is working to broaden the Obama Administration’s new America’s Great Outdoors initiative to include not only natural resources but also our cultural resources such as the National Mall.

We can support this effort by participating in the “listening session” for public input next Friday, June 25th, in Annapolis, Maryland, from 1 to 5 p.m.   Register by next Monday, June 21st.

Please read the following from the National Trust to our Coalition readership:

  1. A Message from the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  2. Questions and Answers about how the initiative can also connect Americans to our historic and cultural resources
  3. Details about the location, registration, date and time

*** A Message from the National Trust for Historic Preservation ***

The federal government is a good partner in historic preservation across the nation.  On June 25, the National Coalition to Save Our Mall and its allies have an opportunity to speak up and help strengthen the federal government’s role in the preservation of the nation’s historic places, including the National Mall.

As you may know, listening sessions are being held this summer for public input on the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, a new program of the Obama Administration to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors (http://www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/).  These listening sessions are hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and White House Council on Environmental Quality.  I’m writing to urge the coalition and its allies to participate in a listening session scheduled in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday, June 25.  The National Trust and its partners are working to ensure that the historic preservation community is well represented at this event.

Preservationists agree that the new America’s Great Outdoors initiative can be strengthened by embracing both our natural resources and our cultural resources.  We know it’s important to recognize, maintain, protect, and expand our nation’s heritage represented in publically owned historic and cultural sites and parks.  It is critical that we give future generations the opportunity to understand who we are and where we came from as a nation.

Please attend the listening session on June 25 (details are attached) and be sure to voice your support for expanded recognition of cultural and historic resources within the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.  You must RSVP here or by sending an email to [email protected] by 10 am on Monday, June 21.  Please also let the National Trust’s Denise Ryan ([email protected]) know if you plan to attend the Annapolis listening session.

Public input from grass-roots preservationists is critical now.  In previous listening sessions, four questions were addressed during break-out groups.  We have included these questions and some suggested talking points on an attached document.  We encourage you to use specific examples from your work in the Chesapeake region to demonstrate these key points.

Thank you for participating in this important opportunity to promote historic preservation as part of the federal government’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

Best regards,  — Rob

Rob Nieweg, Director & Regional Attorney
Southern Field Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation
1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202-588-6107 | www.PreservationNation.org

*** Questions and Answers ***

America’s Great Outdoors

“Even in times of crisis, we are called to take the long view to preserve our national heritage,” President Obama in his remarks on America’s Great Outdoors, April 16, 2010.

Help make a great idea even better.  The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative can be strengthened by vigorously embracing natural resources and cultural resources.  As a nation, it’s important to recognize, maintain, protect, and expand our nation’s heritage represented in historic and cultural sites and parks.

Below are some suggested responses to questions that will be asked during the America’s Great Outdoors Listening Sessions being held across the country this summer.

Q: What works now to protect historic and cultural parks, sites, and landscapes?

  • The Historic Preservation Fund provides dedicated funding to support the programs and activities that were identified in the National Historic Preservation Act.  The Historic Preservation Fund is the sister program to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • Programs like Save America’s Treasures, Preserve America, and National Heritage Areas attract private dollars and work in partnership with local, state, and federal agencies to address preservation needs as well as promote economic development and create jobs.
  • State-owned and municipally owned historic parks and sites, National Historic Landmarks, and sites on the National Register of Historic Places as well as privately owned historic sites are easily accessible — as they are located in nearly every community across the nation — and through reinvestment and rediscovery can play an important role in getting Americans outdoors.
  • Initiatives like the Forest Service’s Passport in Time program, which provide hands-on experiences and volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in historic preservation and archeology. 

Q: What are the obstacles and challenges to cultural resource protection?

  • Cuts in funding for the Save America’s Treasures, Preserve America, and National Heritage Areas programs.
  • Lack of full funding for the Historic Preservation Fund. 
  • State-government budget cuts causing the closure and lack of maintenance for state parks.
  • The Internal Revenue Service’s concerted efforts to disqualify deductions for the contribution of historic preservation easements by insisting they have no value.

Q: How can the federal government be a better partner in the protection of historic and cultural parks, sites, and landscapes?

  • Fully fund the Historic Preservation Fund.
  • Increase funding for Save America’s Treasures, Preserve America, and National Heritage Areas.  These existing federal programs promote preservation and heritage tourism and encourage people to discover and explore America’s Great Outdoors.
  • Increase funding for the maintenance, protection, and expansion of existing historic sites, parks, and cultural landscapes.  Unfortunately, our historic, cultural, and archeological resources suffer from huge maintenance backlogs, lack of proper survey, and inadequate comprehensive planning.
  • Expand federally protected historic and cultural sites as appropriate through the establishment of new national parks, national monuments, units of the National Landscape Conservation System, and other federally protected areas.  

Q: What new tools are needed to help protect historic and cultural parks, sites, and landscapes?

  • Increase the capacity of federal, state, and local agencies to preserve, protect, and interpret historic and cultural places.  Provide the technical assistance and financial incentives necessary to strengthen preservation-based land-use planning at all levels of government.
  • Engage youth and create jobs for Americans by expanding the Youth Conservation Corps, reinstating a Civilian Conservation Corps, and supporting programs like teaching with historic places.

*** Details About the Session ***

Listening Session and Discussion Information:

When:  Friday, June 25th, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

What: Opening session with senior officials from DOI, USDA, EPA, and CEQ, expert panel discussions, and opportunities to share your ideas in breakout groups.

Where:  Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
801 Chase Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Who:  Representatives from DOI, USDA, EPA, and CEQ will be present to hear your thoughts and to participate in a conversation with you about America’s Great Outdoors.

Please  Register: The event is free and open to the public, but please let us know if you will attend so we can plan accordingly. Register by 10 pm, Monday June 21 by sending your name, telephone number and primary area of interest:

  • Working land and open space conservation
  • Recreation and public access
  • Citizen stewardship, including youth engagement and environmental education.
  • General

You may register here or by sending an email to [email protected].

More Info: You can find more information on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and submit comments on-line at: www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/.

 

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