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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Federal Money for Historic Preservation Exists, Needs to be Appropriated

In 1976, the U.S. Congress created the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). Funded by offshore oil leases, the $150 million fund is supposed to be available for matching grants to state and territorial historic preservation offices, tribal historic preservation offices, historically black colleges and universities and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Recipients must provide a 40% match for preservation planning, bricks and mortar projects, resources and neighborhood surveys and educational programs.

Furthermore, 10% of each state's allocation must be passed through to certified local governments (CLGs). In the St. Louis area, CLGs include the City of St. Louis, Chesterfield, Cottleville, Ferguson, Florissant, Kirkwood, Manchester, Oakland, Pasadena Hills, St. Charles, University City, Webster Groves and Wildwood. Imagine what a source of new funding for surveys and education could do for preservation efforts in these cities.

In 1980, Congress authorized deposit of the full $150 million annual revenue amount into the fund. However, since then, Congress has never appropriated more than one-third of the fund for its intended use. In this Congress, we have a chance to change that.

Over 40 organizations and companies in 26 states have joined the Coalition for Full Permanent Funding of the Historic Preservation Fund. (The Preservation Research Office, the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation and the Friends of the San Luis from St. Louis have signed on.) The Coalition is seeking more support to show Congress that there is wide support for full appropriate; contact the Coalition at infor@fullyfundhpf.org to sign on.

The bill that could cut through 29 years of Congressional neglect is the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2009 (H.R. 3534). The bill was introduced into the House Natural Resources Committee by Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall from West Virginia. Currently, it includes full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which draws from the same off-shore oil revenues and has traditionally been appropriated at the same time as the Historic Preservation Fund. The Coalition hopes to add a provision for full funding of the Historic Preservation Fund.

Congressman Rahall is friendly to the Coalition, but needs support to bring forward the necessary amendment to fully fund the HPF. Contact Rahall online, by phone at (202) 225-3452 or by postal mail at:

Hon. Nick Rahall
2307 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

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