The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Revealed

Wed, 14 Jun 1995 17:56:56 -0400

Ron Anzalone of the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
asked me to publish the following overview of the Council on appropriate
mailing lists on the Internet since the Council does not have e-mail access
yet. As the situation of the Council has recently been, and continues to be,
of interest to the preservation community, and there has been some
misunderstanding of what the Council is and the role it plays in historic
preservation in the United States, ACRA has agreed to publish this
information on the Net. We apologize for any duplicate postings, and hope
this background information will be useful as the Senate attempts to
eliminate the Council this summer.

Tom Wheaton
Executive Director - ACRA


-What is the Council?
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is an independent federal
agency that plays a pivotal role in the National Historic Preservation
Program, a federal, state, and local partnership established by the National
Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 1966.

-What does the Council do?
*Protects historic properties* The Council reviews the effects of federal
undertakings on historic properties in communities and on public lands
throughout the nation under the authority of Section 106 of NHPA. It helps
protect such resources from harmful impacts caused by federally supported
actions, providing a forum for public interest review, consultation, and
resolution of disputes concerning historic preservation issues. Section 106
is the principal means for taking historic values into consideration in
federal planning and decision making, and the sole legal assurance that state
and local governments, Indian tribes, private organizations, and the public
will have an opportunity to learn about and help shape federal decisions that
affect important resources in their communities. The Council does not direct
or control private actions taken by property owners on their property, or
those taken by state or local governments under their jurisdiction. Neither
does the Council have veto authority over federal projects or the ability to
delay projects indefinitely through the Section 106 process.

*Administers the "Section 106" process* The Council is the only governmental
entity with legal responsibility for balancing historic preservation concerns
with other federal program initiatives from a national, government-wide
perspective. It establishes procedures, sets standards, provides oversight,
and ensures consistency in how those concerns are dealt with.

*Promotes federal preservation planning and stewardship* The Council works
with all federal agencies to promote responsible project planning and
historic property management; accommodate project needs and historic values
in cost-effective ways; and improve coordination and cooperation between
federal and non-federal parties.

*Advises the President and Congress* The Council provides training and
educational assistance to federal, state, and local agencies, tribal
governments, and private organizations and individuals on historic
preservation law, policy, and practice related to Section 106 review.

-How does the Council's work mesh with other federal policies and
The Council works in partnership with the Secretary of the Interior and the
heads of other federal departments and agencies to coordinate and manage the
federal government's interest and involvement in historic preservation. The
Council therefore has an important role under other statutes in addition to
the NHPA, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and works
closely with such diverse federal initiatives as the Defense Base Realignment
and Closure program (BRAC), the Community Development Block Grant and
Community Reinvestment programs, and the Federal-Aid Highway Program.

-How is the Council organized?
The Council is comprised of a Cabinet-level body of 20 members specified in
the NHPA, and a small professional staff. Members include 11
presidentially-appointed, non-federal members: the Chairman and three other
members from the general public, a governor, a mayor, four experts from
preservation-related disciplines and a Native American or Native Hawaiian.
The Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and four other
federal agency heads (currently HUD, DOT, EPA, and GSA), the Architect of the
Capitol, and ex-officio representatives of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation
Officers round out the Council membership.

The Council's 40-member staff is made up largely of preservation
professionals who carry out the day-to-day work of the Council from offices
in Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado.

-How is the Council funded?
Council funds are appropriated throughout the Department of the Interior and
Related Agencies appropriation and overseen by the House Committee on
Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Its
annual budget is about $3 million, which covers the costs of member
activities, staff work, informational materials, and administrative overhead.
The Council does not provide grants or other financial assistance.

-Where can further information be obtained?
The Council's Annual Reports to Congress outline many examples of the
Council's work, and may be obtained at no cost from the Council. Additional
information and publications are also available. For further information,
contact the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave.
NW, Suite 809, Washington D.C. 20004; 202 606 8503/FAX 202 606 8672.