September Update from Washington

New Limits Imposed on NEPA Studies
A new order from the Department of the Interior (DoI) says that all of its Environmental Impact Statements should be no longer than 150 pages. Unusually complex projects may be allowed up to 300 pages. It also required the studies to be completed within one year of public notice being given. Each bureau at DoI — including the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service — must also submit a proposal for page limits and deadlines for environmental assessments. Although it has been billed as a way to reduce paperwork, this order is widely feared to be cover for cutting corners on environmental and historic preservation reviews.

Despite Public Outcry, Secretary Zinke Recommends Shrinking National Monuments
Almost 3 million people responded the President Trump’s Executive Order requesting a review of the national monuments designated since 1996. The overwhelming majority of public comments submitted to the Department of the Interior favored maintaining the sites’ existing boundaries. Nonetheless, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Trump alter at least three national monuments, including Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. President Trump has yet to act on the recommendations. Any attempt to alter existing national monuments is likely to spark a long legal battle over whether or not Presidents can change national monument designations made by their predecessors.
Congress Deadlocked on Appropriations, Negotiations Will Drag Out for Months
Congress voted to pass a Continuing Resolution, a temporary measure that will fund the government at current levels through early December. In the meantime, Congress will continue debating the final appropriations bills to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2018. We need to remind Congress about the importance of heritage preservation. Let’s urge Congress not to make any cuts in funding to vital programs like the Historic Preservation Fund, State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and the Civil Rights Initiative.

Invite Your Lawmaker to Visit You at Work
Kudos to New South Associates, Inc. on meeting with Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia to discuss historic preservation and showcase Abby the ArchaeoBus. On-site visits, like this one, give Members of Congress a great, hands-on look at the work we do.These meetings are crucial to building support for our priorities. Speak up to protect America’s historic treasures!

We Will Help Set Up a Visit
Given the political climate in Washington right now, it is more important than ever to engage with our lawmakers. Members of Congress will be home September 16-23, and they want to hear what matters to the people of their communities. We have a step-by-step guide to help you arrange a meeting with your Member of Congress. Plus, we have handouts about our issues that you can download and take to your meeting about help with any additional advice or materials you may need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Welcome to Our New Coalition Members!

Welcome to our new members: Aspen Ridge Consultants, Florida Public Archaeology Network-Northwest Region, the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, George W. Bush Childhood Home, Missouri Germans Consortium, Preservation Maryland, Preservation Utah, Preserve Rhode Island, Captain Pollard’s Flintlock Farm, The Lost Arts Collaborative, and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society!

Thanks to the generous support of our four founding organizations: the American Cultural Resources Association, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the American Anthropological Association, and the Society for American Archaeology, membership in the Coalition is free.

As a Coalition member, you will receive emails with updates about how decisions in Congress and the White House impact our areas of concern. Plus, we’ll provide helpful tools to assist you and your members in contacting your representatives in Congress and submitting comments to federal agencies. We offer specific, timely information so that you have what you need to quickly and efficiently register your opinion. Organizations and Individuals can join today.

For more of the latest heritage-related news, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.