Spotlight on the Historic Bridge Foundation, Part Two

Yesterday we started talking about historic bridges as a way to introduce the Historic Bridge Foundation (HBF). Have you heard of the HBF prior to this? If not, let’s get you acquainted, as HBF is one organization you should know for your historic preservation projects.

HBF

The Historic Bridge Foundation is a national advocacy organization for the preservation of historic bridges in the United States. HBF achieves its mission through the following avenues:

  • Service as a clearinghouse for information on the preservation of historic bridges via a website, electronic newsletters or alerts, and directory of consultants
  • Identification of and communication with individuals and groups interested in the preservation of historic bridges
  • Consultation with public officials to devise reasonable alternatives to demolishing or adversely affecting historic bridges
  • Development of educational programs to promote awareness of historic bridge

How can the HBF help you? HBF provides support and resources. You’ll most likely be looking for help if you have a historic bridge threatened with demolition. You can start by reading How to Save a Bridge. This page has a list of contractors who have worked with historic bridges, steps to get you started for rounding up community members, as well as case studies of historic bridge projects.

When you’re hoping to save a historic bridge you need to know how the project is being funded, because that determines which regulations apply. If it’s federal funding, Section 106 comes into play. If it’s federal transportation dollars, then Section 4(f) applies. Both of these federal laws require public input from stakeholders. That’s you!, but you have to get organized. HBF offers guidance on that. HBF will point you in the direction of the resources you need.

Want to get involved and keep up with the Historic Bridge Foundation? Follow HBF on Facebook or Sign up for the newsletter. Questions? Need help? Have something to offer? Contact the Executive Director Kitty Henderson at kitty@historicbridgefoundation.com. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kitty, she’s extremely passionate, knowledgeable, and dedicated to the cause. She’s a guardian angel for historic bridges!

If you’re at the NTHP Conference in Savannah, stop by the HBF table in the Preservation Studio and talk to Nathan Holt, the creator of Historicbridges.org and the newsletter editor for HBF.

IMPORTANT Preservation Legislation – WE NEED YOUR HELP

Do you follow Preservation Action for updates on preservation policy? It’s a good idea to do so, because as you know, legislation can make all the difference for preservation funding and government action. While much of preservation happens at the local level, the federal level carries much influence as well. A recent update that is worth your time:

MILITARY LAND ACT WOULD AMEND NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT (and not in a good way) 

The summary and suggestion from Preservation Action (see their press release and an update):

Thursday, May 8, 2014, the House Natural Resources Committee will mark up H.R. 3687, the Military LAND Act.

This bill would amend the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 to allow federal agencies to block and rescind the listing of federal properties on the National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmarks, and on the World Heritage List for national security reasons.

Maureen Sullivan of the Department of Defense and Stephanie Toothman of the National Park Service both testified in opposition to the bill on April 29, 2014.

Preservation Action, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation wrote the Public Lands and Environment Subcommittee Chair and Ranking Member outlining preservationists’ concerns and opposition to the bill.

Stop Congress from taking steps to undermine historic preservation. Please write members of the House Natural Resources Committee and ask them to oppose this harmful bill.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Now is the time to contact legislators whether via a letter, email or phone call. Preservation is powerful when people speak up. The U.S. Military owns vast tracts of historic properties across the nation. As an example, the Army owns over 20,000 buildings considered eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. And that is only one military branch.

WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE? Preservation Action suggests this letter (copy & paste, and email – it’s that easy!)

May 7, 2014

Dear (Representative or Senator Name):

I am deeply concerned with H.R. 3687, the Military LAND Act. This bill would amend the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 to allow federal agencies to block and rescind the listing of federal properties on the National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmarks, and on the World Heritage List for national security reasons. H.R. 3687 wrongly raises alarm that designation of historic sites weakens the authority of federal agencies to protect our national security. There is nothing that imposes any legal constraint on federal agencies to protect the interests of national security.

In addition, the bill creates a new requirement of Congressional review that could unfairly politicize the process of evaluating historic significance which has existed without issue for the past nearly 50 years.

The NHPA provides the direction and tools to protect our historic resources and, importantly, sets up a clear process of consideration of our historic heritage. Federal, state, and local governments use the NHPA to identify, preserve and protect our historical, architectural, archeological and cultural resources. The National Register of Historic Places is currently comprised of more than 88,000 listings. Listing a property or determining the eligibility of a property for the National Register does not limit a federal agencies authority.

Please do not undermine our nation’s historic preservation. I ask you to oppose H.R. 3687 and any provisions that would weaken the NHPA.

Regards,

(Your Name)

I wrote my senator. Will you?

News: Preservation Funding at Risk

Extremely important news from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Dear Preservationist,

As early as today, the U.S. Senate could vote on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. It is likely that a harmful amendment to this bill will be offered that would prohibit preservation-related activities under the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program – the single largest source of federal funding for historic preservation.

This change would be devastating to preservation projects that capitalize on existing historic resources to create jobs, improve the quality of life, and protect the environment. With the help of advocates like you, we overcame a similar threat to the program last month. Now we must rise to the challenge again to defend this important program.

The bill also carries damaging new language (Section 128) that would waive National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) review provisions designed to protect historic and cultural resources from disaster recovery projects. This measure is redundant and sets a harmful precedent of waiving the NHPA.

Please contact your U.S. Senators TODAY and ask them to vote NO on any amendment eliminating preservation-related transportation enhancements, and to OPPOSE Section 128 of the THUD appropriations bill.

Visit PreservationNation for more information on the importance of the Transportation Enhancements program to your state and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Thank you for standing up for historic preservation!

Your friends at the National Trust for Historic Preservation

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW.

Please take a minute to complete this form to have it automatically sent to your representatives. It barely takes any effort and could make all the difference in your community. As discussed on Preservation in Pink a few weeks ago, transportation enhancement grants are vital to historic preservation and to your town, state and our nation. Please don’t wait. Contact your senators today.

Building a Preservation Ethic for the Future

By Kate Scott

This spring I had the opportunity to attend several meetings aimed at improving preservation across Minnesota. Our state historic preservation office (SHPO) was reviewing their comprehensive plan, tracking progress, and creating new goals. In an effort to make the preservation plan truly applicable to all Minnesotans, the SHPO traveled throughout the state to gather resident input. From citizens in different regions, with varying background and interests, I was surprised to hear one common concern resounding statewide.

Minnesotans find it difficult to achieve cooperative, successful historic preservation in our state. They feel this is so because a strong preservation ethic does not exist. As preservationists we often see this; it is hard to get people on board with preservation. Much of our time is spend touting the many merits of preservation: it’s an economic development tool, a sustainable building practice, a way to create a sense of place and community. Typically I think people don’t get preservation because we live in a tear-down society, because in our vernacular old means obsolete. And while this may be true, the people of Minnesota see another reason for the absence of a preservation ethic.

We lack a strong preservation ethic, they say, because local history is not being taught in our schools. And without an appreciation for history, we cannot expect a desire to preserve our historic sites.

In Minnesota, where our SHPO is housed in the same offices as the state historical society (which is true of many states including Iowa, Wisconsin, Montana, and Colorado), this apparent disconnect between history and historic preservation is unexpected.

What can we do as preservationists to close this gap? Building relationships with state and local historical societies is one way. Another possibility is for statewide preservation groups to include educational development programs in their mission. In the present day of strict spending we can make the most of free and low-cost e-tools to distribute puzzles, games, and other kid-friendly history information. If we can get children interested and engaged in their local history, they will likely form attachments to significant sites and become the grass-roots activists that preservation relies on.

One of the biggest hurdles we face as preservationists is that much of our work is responsive. We react when important sites are threatened by development, neglect, and demolition. To be proactive on educational preservation programs for children could make our job much easier. Think of it as building an army for preservation (I’m not a fan of the militant analogy, but it fits). How great would it be if for every developer, every city official, every neighbor, preservation was the first choice?

It might sound like a long shot, but if we teach local history and historic preservation early we can get there. Just think – to be a preservationist and be in the majority!

Preservation Month!

Get excited, preservationists! May is Preservation Month. There is an entire month before you to celebrate, encourage, and advocate historic preservation. While you are probably doing this on a regular basis, knowing that organizations and individuals across the country are taking that extra step for preservation is hopefully added motivation.

What is Preservation Month? From the National Trust’s press release: “Since the National Trust for Historic Preservation created Preservation Week in 1971 to spotlight grassroots preservation efforts in America, it has grown into an annual celebration observed by small towns and big cities with events ranging from architectural and historic tours and award ceremonies to fundraising events, educational programs, and heritage travel opportunities. Due to its overwhelming popularity, in 2005, the National Trust for Historic Preservation extended the celebration to the entire month of May and declared it Preservation Month to provide an even longer opportunity to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and states and enable more Americans to become involved in the growing preservation movement.”

Each Preservation Month has a theme and this year it is “This Place Matters”, an effort of the National Trust that is designed to raise awareness about the places that really matter to people.

http://www.preservationnation.org/take-action/this-place-matters/TPM-NTHP-LOGO.pdf

Provided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (and adapted for Preservation in Pink), the Preservation Month Proclamation:

WHEREAS, historic preservation is an effective tool for managing growth, revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering local pride and maintaining community character while enhancing livability; and

WHEREAS,  historic preservation is relevant for communities across the nation, both urban and rural, and for Americans of all ages, all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds; and

WHEREAS, it is important to celebrate the role of history in our lives and the contributions made by dedicated individuals in helping to preserve the tangible aspects of the heritage that has shaped us as a people; and

WHEREAS, “This Place Matters” is the theme for National Preservation Month 2009, [encouraged by] Preservation in Pink and sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation

NOW, THEREFORE, [readers of PiP, take action, call upon the people of your town and city to join with] fellow citizens across the United States in recognizing and participating in this special observance.

_____________________

What is your organization or town doing? What are you doing? Happy Preservation Month!

Change Starts Here: Preservation Priorities for President-Elect Barack Obama

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is preparing its official platform to submit to the new administration. Take a moment to answer this one question regarding what you would like to see on the platform. It’s just one question and the click of a mouse.  Choose between Historic Preservation and 1) the economy, 2) sustainability, 3) natural disasters & preparedness, 4) transportation policies, 5) public land, or 6) federal stewardship. (You can actually choose all 6).

Click here or the image (from the National Trust website).

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Your opinion matters. Take the 30 seconds to voice it.

Take Action!

Some of you may receive the National Trust member e-newsletters. In many cases, these newsletters ask the reader to personalize a letter to his/her Congressman in order request more funding, assistance in saving a landmark, etc. Like a good preservationist, I fill out the forms with my name, address, and occasionally I’ll add something to the letter, hoping that the personalization shows the importance of the issue. Unfortunately, more often than not my letter is rejected by the web server because I don’t live in the associated area of the landmark. Well now, isn’t that unfair? Shouldn’t the letter be able to go to a higher official who can accept letters from anyone? (I obviously don’t know who that would be.) The landmark could be just as important to someone who lives in New York as it is to someone who lives in California. And if this is not possible, why doesn’t the form say you can only live in these states to send this letter? Beats me, it’s just a particular pet peeve of emails of mine.


But, I can’t address a problem just to complain. As preservationists, we realize this a major problem in our country. People complain and do nothing about it, despite knowing exactly what the problem is. There are other issues, which could use help from everyone everywhere. Upon further investigation this newsletter has this link: http://www.preservationnation.org/take-action/advocacy-center/ Here nationwide causes are listed. Preservation support and action is needed all of the time and it’s important that we support issues that we can. It takes a few minutes to fill out these forms and if enough people participate, it will definitely make a difference. So, give it a go, preservationists. There’s no sense in just talking – we need to act!