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Legislation & Public Policy Issues in Preservation     


Legislation & Public Policy Issues in Preservation
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Year End Omnibus Appropriations Includes Funding for Historic Preservation Programs and Conservation System Lands
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com - omnibus appropriations bill, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Preservation Fund, Save America's Treasures, Department of Homeland Security, National Landscape Conservation System
Contributed By: The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Department of Public Policy
Email The Author: pr@nthp.org
Website: http://www.nthp.org

The 110th Congress completed its legislative business for the first session with the House adjourned until mid-January and the Senate in a guarded “proforma” session to block any prospective recess appointments. Prior to adjournment, lawmakers passed an 11-bill omnibus appropriations bill (HR 2764) this week that included critical funding for historic preservation and public lands, while denying funding for a Homeland Security construction project that would have had negative consequences for the historic western campus of St. Elizabeths hospital in Washington, DC. Below are the major highlights of the omnibus package.

  • Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill includes the following: $70.385 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, of which $24.61 million is for Save America's Treasures; $39.376 million for the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs); $6.399 million for the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs); $7.383 million for Preserve America grants, but coming out of the National Recreation and Preservation budget category; $5.348 million for the ACHP (our request); and, $25 million for the National Park Service Centennial Challenge.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Headquarters - St. Elizabeths Hospital. The omnibus eliminated $345 million in funds for the construction of a Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters on the western campus of St. Elizabeths in order to meet the discretionary budget cap. The General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees all federal buildings, said the cut was a “serious setback” and prompted Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) to say the District of Columbia was looking for ‘other ways to come up with the money.’ Norton has called the Homeland Security headquarters her "major economic development project for the District," a massive undertaking that could spur growth in the southeastern part of the city. However, the National Trust named St. Elizabeths to its Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites List in 2002. The 175-acre west campus of the 19th century asylum has been the target for an oversized re-development scheme by the GSA and Department of Homeland Security to shoehorn 4.5 million gross square feet of office space, with 1.8 million gross square feet of parking structures, into this pristine and salvageable National Historic Landmark campus. This proposal for a high-security facility would destroy many of the hospital’s 55 historic buildings, large swaths of the historic landscape and irreversibly compromise the character of the site.
  • National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The omnibus also includes a needed increase for the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), priority land acquisition and construction projects and a directive to provide greater transparency for the System’s budget. The System will receive at least $5 million over the President’s budget for a total of at least $53.4 million, or about $1 million above last year’s levels. However, the bill includes language that maintains directives from the House and Senate bills, including a directive to leverage additional funds for Trails maintenance. Therefore, BLM estimates they may be able to squeeze as much as $6.5 to $10 million above the President’s request for a final budget of up to $59 million, about equivalent to FY 06 levels. The Conservation System lands were listed on the National Trust’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places List in 2005 due to chronic Bureau of Land Management (BLM) understaffing and underfunding in addition to mismanaged grazing, energy exploration, unauthorized recreation, theft and vandalism.

Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust


Keywords: omnibus appropriations bill, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Preservation Fund, Save America's Treasures, Department of Homeland Security, National Landscape Conservation System

Posted: December 23, 2007
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Unless noted, the thoughts and opinions expressed in the article are solely that of the
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