Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 18, Number 28, July 17, 2015 →

President Obama’s Use of the Antiquities Act Prompts Praise and Criticism

Last Friday President Obama announced the designation of 3 new National Monuments, the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California, and the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas. After Friday’s designation President Obama has created or expanded 19 national monuments, and protected more land and water through the Antiquities Act than any other President.

Friday’s designation prompted praise from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who has been pushing for the Basin and Range designation for years and even former First Lady Laura Bush who praised President Obama’s designation of the Waco Mammoth National Monument. President Obama’s actions also sparked criticism from Republicans who called the actions an overreach of executive power. House Natural Resource Committee Chair, Rob Bishop (R-UT), vowed his committee would “try and rectify” what he calls the broad powers given to the President under the Antiquities Act. When asked about President Obama’s most recent designations, Chairman Bishop said:

“There is nothing that Obama did today that had anything to do with an antiquity,” Bishop said. “There are criteria for using the act. There is nothing Obama announced that had anything to do with the criteria.”

When asked about the Native American artifacts at the Basin and Range National Monument site in Nevada, including cave paintings, he said, “Ah, bull crap. That’s not an antiquity.”

Earlier in the year Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced H.R 900 titled the “National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015”. This legislation  would severely restrict the president’s power to designate National Monuments provided under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced companion legislation, S.228, in the Senate. Both the Senate and House versions have been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the House Natural Resources Committee respectably.

Continue to follow our Legislative Updates and if you haven’t already follow Preservation Action on Facebook and Twitter as this issue continues to develop. Preservation Action will continue to fight against any attempts to weaken the Antiquities Act.

Philadelphia Could Become First U.S City Recognized as a World Heritage City

Philadelphia could become the first city in the United States recognized as a World Heritage City. The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) is composed of 250 member cities, all of which contain sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cities are represented by their respective Mayors in the General Assembly. The XIII World Congress of the OWHC will meet Nov. 6th in Arequipa Peru, where it could decide on Philadelphia’s application.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia, was inscribed to the World Heritage List in 1979, making the city of Philadelphia eligible for recognition as a World Heritage City. Philadelphia has already been given “observer” status by the OWHC; the only U.S city with such status. Supporters say Philadelphia’s designation as World Heritage City would be a boon for the economy, increasing travel and business in the city.

Registration Now Open for the National Preservation Conference

Registration is now open the annual the National Preservation Conference. The conference will be held Nov. 3-6 in Washington, D.C and will feature events across the city and region. The conference is put on by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and brings preservationists from across the country together. Last year more than 1,600 people, from all 50 states, attended the conference in Savannah, GA.

This year’s conference will begin a year long celebration of the National Historic Preservation Act’s 50th anniversary with programming that will highlight and celebrate the landmark legislation, while looking to ensure the NHPA’s success for another 50 years and beyond.

Early-bird registration ends on July 31. Register today!

Wisconsin Biennial Budget Does Not Cap State Historic Tax Credit Program

The Wisconsin state Senate and state Assembly approved a $73 billion biennial  state budget that does not cap the state’s historic tax credit (HTC) program. The budget was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker this week, just before announcing his candidacy for president. Gov. Walker had previously proposed a $10 million credit cap on the state’s HTC program. Wisconsin’s HTC has been incredibly popular, just in the last 18 months $42 million in tax credits were issued, sparking Gov. Walkers $10 million cap proposal. The popularity of the program even led to a temporary moratorium on the program last year.

A coalition of developers and historic preservation organizations successfully lobbied lawmakers that the economic activity caused by the tax credit, far outweighs the cost of program. The proposed cap on the state’s HTC program would have had a devastating impact on historic preservation in Wisconsin.  Historic preservationists praise Wisconsin lawmakers decision to eliminate the cap from the state budget.

Preservation Action Will be Right Back After a Short Break

Preservation Action offices will be closed for the remainder of July. We will return the week of August 3rd. We’ll be sure to catch you up on the latest preservation news when we return!

In the mean time, Congress will be on recess beginning late July, be sure to get your request in now for an in-district meeting or site visit. Let your members of Congress know the importance of reauthorizing the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). Take them on site visit to a Historic Tax Credit (HTC) project in their district, so they can see the positive impact of the HTC first-hand. Be sure to tie in the important role SHPOs and THPOs (funded by the HPF) play in administering the HTC.

Check out our In-district Lobbying Guide for more information and helpful tips. As always, let us know how your meetings went. We will take that information back with us when we go to the Hill! Email us at!

Stories From Around the States

Kentucky: “Whisky Row Fire Reinforces National Trust Commitment

Florida: “Boynton Beach Launches Mobile App for Historic Sites

Maryland: “Annapolis. Weather it Together: Planning for the Protection of Our Historic Seaport

New York: “New York City’s Last Fire Watchtower Will be Restored

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