by Michael R. Allen
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget contains mixed news for historic preservation programs. Obama is proposing retaining at current levels the $46.5 million appropriation to State Historic Preservation Offices and the $8 million appropriate to Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. However, Obama proposes eliminating appropriations for two successful grant programs: Save America’s Treasures ($25 million) and Preserve America ($3.175 million). These programs are funded through the federal Historic Preservation Fund (HPF).
Obama proposes no cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), despite the face that the $900 million annual authorization for the LWCF and the $150 million annual authorization for the HPF share the same source of funding: lease money from oil and gas drilling on the outer continental shelf. Neither have ever received their fully authorized appropriations. Surely our president knows that sustainability is as much about retaining existing buildings and neighborhoods as it is about preserving wilderness. After all, President Obama has championed weatherization funding and homeowner energy efficiency tax credits.
All of these proposals are subject to Congressional approval. Those who see the benefit of the preservation programs should contact their representatives immediately.