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House Appropriators Approve Deep Cuts in Historic Preservation Funding
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com - House Committee on Appropriations, historic preservation funding, cultural resource funding, Congress, Interior and Environment, Historic Preservation Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Contributed By: National Trust's Public Policy Department and Center for State and Local Policy
Website: http://www.preservationnation.org

The House Committee on Appropriations marked up and approved the FY’12 Interior spending bill on July 13th by a 28-18 vote.  Prior to the markup, the full committee released their draft bill which mirrored the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment's mark by including a 9% cut ($5 million) to the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) from $54.5 million to $49.5 million.  The committee allocated HPF funding according to FY’09 funding levels - $42.5 million for the states and $7.0 million for the tribes.  Also included in the draft bill was a provision regarding “historic leases” which proposed shifting “the burden of maintenance to the lessee for the duration of the lease term. Historic leases not only generate revenue, they play a role in rehabilitating, restoring, and maintaining park resources with private funds, saving taxpayer dollars …  and mitigate a growing backlog of historic structures in need of preservation.”  The leasing language which may hold potential benefit for historic structures that might otherwise sit vacant and be subject to deterioration and neglect.  An amendment proposing to defund the the Antiquities Act of 1906 was fortunately not offered in the markup but may be offered when the bill is taken up by the full House in late July.  Such an amendment would have a chilling effect on any future national monument proclamations, such as the current campaign on historic Ft. Monroe in Hampton Roads, Virginia. 

In other spending accounts, the committee also approved a 37% cut for national monuments in the National Landscape Conservation System to $20 million, a 47% cut in national heritage areas to $8.933 million, a 100% cut in battlefield protection grants ($1.360 million), a 6.5% cut in the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to $5.498 million, and a 17.6% cut in the NPS construction budget to $151.1 million from FY’11 enacted levels.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was cut by 80% ($-238.701 million) from FY’11 and was funded at just $61.833 million.  The bill took a major swipe at the program and stated that “the Administration’s LWCF programs aren’t as well coordinated with each other and with other programs as they should be. The Subcommittee held its first ever bipartisan, bicameral staff-level briefing with all four land acquisition agencies in order to determine what a coordinated and strategic fully-funded LWCF initiative looks like.”  Preservationists are extremely concerned that the cuts approved by the committee represent a new baseline that will most likely be the starting point for cutting even further once a debt ceiling agreement is in place.  Indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts in all FY’12 spending bills are a definitely possibility particularly if the Senate fails to enact any spending bills this appropriations cycle and cause even further harm to the national preservation program and public lands conservation efforts. 

Reprinted with permission from the National Trust's Public Policy Department and Center for State and Local Policy



Keywords: House Committee on Appropriations, historic preservation funding, cultural resource funding, Congress, Interior and Environment, Historic Preservation Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Posted: July 17, 2011
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