“A Preservation Conversation” was held in honor of Laura Hudson, a Louisiana Native and long-time Legislative Assistant to former Senator J. Bennett Johnston. She was instrumental in bringing National Park Service parks and heritage areas to Louisiana including the Cane River National Heritage Area, Cane River Creole National Historical Park (CARI), and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).
This special preservation event was held at NCPTT, located in Lee H. Nelson Hall, on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, at 9:30 AM, Saturday, September 20, 2014, and was co-sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association, NCPTT, Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Cane River National Heritage Area, and the Friends of NCPTT. The program was attended by approximately sixty people and ran for an hour and a half followed by a brief reception.
Preservation luminaries who presented at this event included John H. Stubbs of the Tulane School of Architecture, Louisiana State Historic Preservation Officer Pam Breaux, Executive Director Patricia H. Gay of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Associate Director Stephanie Toothman, Ph.D., of the National Park Service, and Don Cravins, Jr., Chief of Staff for Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Presenters and topics are outlined in the following program.
|9:30 A.M.||Welcome and Introductions|
| Kirk Cordell, Executive Director, NCPTT
Laura Gates, Superintendent, CARI
| John Stubbs
“National and International Preservation Issues”
Favrot Senior Professor of Preservation Practice
Director, Master of Preservation Studies
Tulane School of Architecture
| Pam Breaux
“Statewide Preservation Issues”
Assistant Secretary & State Historic Preservation Officer
Office of Cultural Development
State of Louisiana
| Craig Obey
Senior Vice President
National Parks Conservation Association
| Patricia Gay
“Community Preservation Concerns”
Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans
| Stephanie Toothman, PhD
“National Park Service Preservation Challenges”
Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science
National Park Service
| Don Cravins, Jr.
“Federal Preservation Policy and Funding Outlook”
Chief of Staff
Office of Senator Mary Landrieu, Senior Senator from Louisiana
United States Senate
|10:30 A.M.||Meet and Greet, Refreshments provided by Friends of NCPTT|
|Co-sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association, NCPTT, Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Cane River National Heritage Area and the Friends of NCPTT.|
Kirk: If you would, please take your seats, and we’ll get started. Good morning! Thank you. We’re waiting a few more seconds until some of you will get back in the room. We’ll be right with you. Well, I think we’ll go ahead and get started. Good morning everyone. Welcome to the National Center for Preservation, Technology and Training. My name is Kirk Cordell. I’m the Executive Director here at NCPTT. I want to welcome you to a preservation conversation with Senator Mary Landrieu inspired by Laura Hudson.
I’m sorry to say for those of you who have not heard the news yet that Senator Landrieu had a change in schedule, and she will not be joining us this morning. However, I would like to welcome Donald Cravins, Cravins I mean. He is her Chief of Staff, and also Tory Bradford who’s her Deputy State Coordinator, who are both with us today.
Don will be speaking on her behalf today. We’re glad to still be able to have a connection with the Senator this morning, and thank her for sending her staff to join us today. I’d like to start out by thanking our co-sponsors and some of the people that helped get this meeting together. First of all, I’d like to recognize representatives here from the National Parks Conservation Association.
We have Craig Obey here from their Washington office, and John Adornato from Hollywood, Florida. I’d like both of them to stand, so you could recognize them. This is Craig here, and John here. They were both instrumental in putting this conversation together as they’ve been proponents of having the conversation on preservation issues here in the South and particularly here in Louisiana with our senator.
I also like to recognize the superintendent of Cane River Creole National Historic Park, Laura Gates. She’s over here. I think most of you know her. I’d also like to recognize the Executive Director of the Cane River Heritage Area, Cynthia Sutton. She is here. She is not standing, and also the friends of NCPTT, the friends group that supports our work here, sponsoring the food and has helped with many other aspects of putting this together today.
We have at least Tom Whitehead. Our president here today is Tom. He is in the back. Sharon Gahagan is also on our board. [Inaudible 00:03:47]I don’t think I see Sharon here this morning, but I just want to recognize her as well. Then I’m going to introduce all the speakers that are going to be on our panel this morning. Then we’re going to hear a few words from Laura Gates, and then we’re going to go right on into the panel.
I’m going to go ahead and introduce each of the panel speakers this morning, and have each of them stand for you, so you could recognize them. Our first speaker today will be John Stubbs. John is a native Louisianan who’s been away from us for a long time, and worked in many jobs including at the World’s Monuments Fund in New York, but is now the Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Tulane University, and he’s been doing a great job down there.
He is the Favrot Senior Professor of Preservation Practice at Tulane, as well as the Director of the Master Preservation Studies Group. John, wherever you are, can you stand up and let people see you? There we go. Thank you. Next after John will be Pam Breaux. Many of you know Pam in the community already. Pam is our State Historic Preservation Officer. She’s going to be speaking on state-wide preservation issues this morning.
She is the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism. She’s also of course the SHPO for the state. Pam, would you stand wherever you are, and let us recognize you. Thank you. We appreciate you coming out. We thank so much all of those who have come in from out of town for this. A lot of people traveled very far to get here today. We appreciate that.
Next, I’d like to recognize another old friend of mine, Patty Gay, who is the Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Patty, can you stand because …? She’ll be speaking on community preservation guidelines. I’m in [inaudible 00:05:23] today. As you know, Patty runs one of the premiere local preservation groups in the United States, so I’m excited to hear from her this morning as well.
Then I’d like particularly please to present my boss to you today. Besides the Director for Cultural Resources in the National Parks Service, she’s the officially the cultural … the Director of Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science. Stephanie is overall of the cultural resource activities that the park serves. Everything in the National Park system, everything in our partnerships programs and national register hubs here, all the national landmarks, all of those programs that you’re familiar with are all under her direction.
She’s been a tremendous supporter of NCPTT. We’re glad to have her with us this morning. Steph, do you mind if you could stand? Then following Dr. Toothman this morning, we’ll be hearing from Donald Cravins, who is the as I said is the Chief of Staff for Mary Landrieu. Donald if you … He’s sitting here at the front, if you could?
All right, well thank you. We’re going to just let everyone come up and speak in a row, and we’ll have a little time to chat together afterwards. Before we get started in the main program, I wanted to have a few words with you about why we’re here together today. NCPTT was founded 20 years ago today. It was founded after a congressional study of the National Historic Preservation Acts said that there ought to be a center like this that needed to exist in the United States, and recommended the creation of it.
We conduct research here and in our laboratories on the campus at NSU. We partner with universities and nonprofits all across the United States. There are grants program and other cooperative ventures to undertake research and training in the historic preservation. We’ve presented more than $8 million in research grants in the history of the center so far, and continue to present some grants every year.
Our training program has a similar reach. We present training programs all over the United States and in the territories as well of course as here at our home-base, here in Natchitoches. Like many of the national parks and all of the state historic preservation officers, our funding here has been flat for the entire history of the center for the last two decades. We are rising administrative cost and an inflation mean that only about half of the spending power is available to us today, that was available in the year that the center was created, and because of the way the budget is structured, we only have about a fifth of the grant money to give away as far as the value.
The whole ability to do this kind of research is … shrunken considerably. We’re really the only ones that fund research and preservation this way. There is no other source of these kinds of funds in the United States. One solution that would help almost everyone that’s involved in preservation is to fully fund the historic preservation fund. I would like to put that idea out as a topic for discussion this morning with the panel.
The historic preservation fund is authorized at $150 million a year. It’s never reached anywhere near that level of authorization. If we could get that funding up to that level and then designate 2% of it for research, then the center could give that money out to our partners at the historic preservation offices and at universities across the United States, and we could really stimulate research in the field in a way that hasn’t been able to be done in a long time.
The historic preservation funding comes from payments to the federal government for also oil leases. It doesn’t require a new tax revenue stream. It just requires a congress appropriate the money that’s already been collected for that from those leases. There’s a sister fund, the land and water conservation fund, that funds recreation and park … land acquisition. It has now just recently been fully funded. We need the parietal support for the historic preservation fund now so that we could have the support for the state preservation offices and for all of our partnership programs across the country.
That’s my one topic to put on the table this morning. There are lots of other things I could talk about, but I’m not on the panel this morning. We’ve invited people that we thought you’d be interested in hearing from today. These are all good friends of mine, and people that I respect, and were looking forward to hear what they have to say.
Once again, welcome to NCPTT this morning. We’re glad all of you … I am delighted at the turnout here on a Saturday morning. I’m sorry again that the senator couldn’t be with us, but she sends her regrets, and has sent us good representatives in her place. We’re glad to have you all here today. Now, I’m going to turn the gavel over to Laura Gates, the Superintendent at Cane River Creole. Thank you.
Laura: Thank you, Kirk. Good morning everyone. I would like to thank all who are participating today in formal situations such as the host or just with your attendance here. It’s very meaningful that all of you feel so strongly about historic preservation that you came to this event. Kirk had mentioned, and I wasn’t planning to talk about this at all, the issues with the historic preservation fund. In addition, the national parks are also hurting.
We have an 11-billion dollar maintenance backlog. The maintenance backlog doesn’t only hit the historic roads that we have in the National Park System, but our historic landscapes, our historic structures, and so those are challenges that we face on a daily basis even at small parks such as mine. Actually, the person that I’m here to talk about this morning is our dear Laura Hudson, who meant so much to the historic preservation community, not only here but throughout the world.
Laura Hudson was a native of New Orleans. Her career spanned more than 40 years on Capitol Hill and also in international and corporate relations. She left us on May 11th due to cancer. Laura retired this past April as the International Government Affairs Manager for Chevron Corporation. That was the post that she had been in since 2005. She’d had a similar position for the Unocal Corporation for nine years before that company was acquired by Chevron.
In each position, she was based in Washington office. She helped to shape legislative, an executive branch policy that affected companies, and guided the company’s relationships with host governments in countries in Asia and Europe, and particularly in Asia. Laura began her career in 1973 as a legislative aid in the office of Senator J. Bennett Johnston who is from Louisiana.
At her memorial service, Senator Johnston said that it was his first week there on Capitol Hill as a U.S. senator, and this young woman walked into his office and said, “I’m going to work for you. I’m from Louisiana. I’m from New Orleans. I’m a highly-skilled,” so he gave her a job in the mail room. She lasted in the mail room one week before he had moved her up into increasing positions of authority. Eventually, she rose to become his legislative director. That’s a post in which she served for many years before she left his office in 1996.
In addition to the overall stewardship of his office’s legislative agenda, Laura personally led Senator Johnston’s efforts in a host of policy initiatives including many in conservation and historic preservation. She oversaw the long fight leading to the creation of some amazing entities that we have here in Louisiana including Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and my personal favorite and Cynthia Sutton’s personal favorite, Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Cane River National Heritage Area.
Those two entities, this is the first time ever and the only time this has ever been done, where a national park and its affiliated national heritage area were created in the same piece of legislation meant to work together on a daily basis. It was Laura’s concept that drove that legislation. She also directed the efforts leading to the creation of the National Center for Preservation, Technology, and Training, and keeping it here in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
In 1996 as Laura was getting to leave her position, getting ready to leave her position on the Hill, congress paid tribute to her by naming the visitor center in the French quarter a Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve the Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center. In supporting the honor, Senator Frank Murkowski from Alaska said, “There are parks, wildlife refuges, historic preservation projects and other important projects in Louisiana and beyond which exist in very large measure, because of the personal dedication and legislative skill of Laura Hudson,” but she didn’t stop there.
Laura Hudson was a force of nature. One of the things that she did was work continuously with volunteer efforts, and she convinced in 1987 the Department of the Interior to help fund a project with the Close-Up Foundation. This foundation in 1988 used the funding that the department gave to bring more than 6,000 students and teachers from six pacific Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Washington and to other centers of American history.
Those teachers developed classroom materials for many of the islands, and also, they conducted extensive teacher training workshops and student forums after their experience. Upon learning of her death, Senator Johnston issued this statement. He said, “In 24 years as a United States senator, I have the great privilege and honor of working with hundreds, perhaps thousands of dedicated staff professionals. Of all those fine people, it was Laura Hudson who most exemplified the best qualities of selfless public service.” Excuse me.
“She was the master of every policy and process she faced compiling an extraordinary record of achievements for the people of Louisiana and the country. For most of the years she was doing so, she was quietly facing with grace and courage the illness that ultimately took her life. For Mary and me, she really was a full member of our family. We are so grateful for her service and friendship. We’re filled with grief that she is gone.”
Excuse me. Sorry. On another note, Laura Hudson really understood preservation. In March of last year, Britain’s Prince Philip honored Laura Hudson and nine other people at Buckingham Palace for her work in fostering preservation on a fragile island of the coast of Australia. The others were nine other world leaders, and they are all recognized at a luncheon ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Laura was a friend of Louisiana and also to preservation in the broadest sense. My friend Andy Phil always has a great quote. He says, “Preservation is not the end. Preservation is only the beginning, and Laura Hudson exemplified that.” She understood that preservation involves the strength of community, of cultures, of grassroots efforts to preserve our heritage and this special place of Louisiana for future generations.
Thank you. Now, I would like to introduce our first panelist, John Stubbs. Thank you.
Craig: Before you hear from John, I just wanted to say a few words. Apologies. I’m Craig Obey. I’m Senior Vice-President with the National Parks Conservation Association. I just want to say how thrilled we are to be co-sponsoring this with our partners here today. For those of you who don’t know NPCA, we were started by the first director of the National Parks Service in 1919, Steven Mader who wanted an organization outside of government citizen organization that would both protect the parks and keep government honest in protecting the parks for future generations.
That’s what we do … have been doing for almost 100 years. Today, we have one million members and supporters around the country. Many here in Louisiana, we’ve got 24 field offices around the country. John Adornato runs our Sun Coast office. A quick word about Laura and about Bennett in my work, I worked with them. When I mentioned to Bennett that we were doing this today, and he called it a very worthy accolade.
When Bennett and Laura got started, Louisiana had no units of the National Parks System. Today, there are four. That alone was a tremendous accomplishment. That’s a legacy that many are carrying on today. In fact, people like Pam Breaux and Senator Landrieu recently made sure that Louisiana got the world’s newest world heritage site at Poverty Point, which was a tremendous accomplishment.
The centennial of the National Parks System is coming up in 2016. I’m sure many of you know that. Natchitoches knows a thing or two about centennial since you are celebrating your third. We mark centennials not just to celebrate but also to foster action, to really look at what it is that we need to do next to continue the legacy that we’re given. Part of that, Laura Hudson and Bennett Johnston, I have the pleasure to work with them on something called the National Parks Second Century Commission a few years ago.
The whole purpose of that commission which Bennett co-chaired with former Senate Majority leader Howard Baker was to re-envision what the National Parks should be for the next century, how to foster preservation over the next century. It included luminaries from across the country. They came up with a whole host of recommendations for the future of our park system and enhancing the heritage areas program fostering public and private partnerships, more cooperation, more funding.
Kirk mentioned the historic preservation fund for recommending a culture resources challenge for the parks, a whole host of recommendations on the cultural and natural side of things. Now, it’s really time for all of us to think about how we make that vision a reality, how do we preserve these places that reflect our heritage, protect our heritage for posterity. How are we going to make sure that they are funded? When we’ve got an approaching 12-billion dollar backlog for the national parks service, the whole host of associated challenges that go along with that.
How are we going to connect the next generation of Laura Hudson’s to these tremendous places, and create that next generation of advocates for preservation. I just want to leave you with a short quote that the commission began its report with from Teddy Roosevelt. “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one of us must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”
Laura did that. Now, it’s up to us to carry forward so that in 100 years from now, those people will come back at us to say they did a right. They protected our heritage, and now, we need to follow their example. Thank you very much. Thank you for being here.
Kirk: Thank you Craig. Those are great thoughts for us as we go into the panel now. John Stubbs from Tulane University, we have you on deck. Thank you.
John: Wow! I’ve not heard more moving words of praise toward preservationist, I think, ever. It’s two people who really deserve it. It reminds me that this field is all about people. It’s by for and about people heritage protection. I just have to say how moving it was to hear those words about Laura and her circle, and think about this organizations cited on the bottom of the screen, and many others that are selflessly, generously putting their best efforts in helping make not only our country but the world a better place.
It’s a globe [traddern 00:24:16] and one who has committed my career to this since about … The first time I came to Natchitoches, there’s a show for my father who was the architect for Cherokee plantation. What would that be about 1970. That’s when I was bitten by the preservation bug as a country boy from [Monroe 00:24:35], Louisiana. There’s not a lot of modern anything to inspire at least in that town as a young architect in the making, so I started and looked at the other direction at history.
Man, do we have it in Louisiana? From there, I went to LSU. From there, I studied in Rome and worked on archaeological sites in Italy and Egypt, and caught wind over the first tragic program and then start preservation in America at Columbia University. That was also founded by an essentially a Louisianan, James Marston Fitch. Now, I look back from the first day of class because of the endless fascination that this field holds and its significance in every respect.
My message today is really reflective of an incredible learning odyssey I’ve had over nearly 40 years in the field. Again starting with life and a bio in North Louisiana ending up, gosh, working for the National Parks Service in Washington for a couple of years helping administer the tax incentives for preservation back when they were just being launched, and from there, doing corporate architectural practice in New York again on a number of national parks service projects like in Ellis Island, and from there, meeting the real challenge of my career, the World Monuments Fund, a private not for profit based in New York that does work all over the world.
Another inspiration of another inspired natural leader, an American, who started that enterprise in 1965 after the floods of Venice that some of you may remember. I served as Program Director in charge of few projects for the World Monuments Fund for 21 years. It had me traveling all over the place. I went to over half of the world’s countries looking at identifying and planning architectural preservation projects as part of a global advocacy scheme to raise awareness for the plight of the historic buildings that … and its … in all of its importance.
Was that a learning experience of … I’ve been trying to write books about this too, of which are on the back table there. My obsession really all along was looking at solutions used around the world in this field. I’ve done some extreme traveling. I’m really almost embarrassed to say how much I’ve traveled. I’ve got three million miles on just one airline. Some [inaudible 00:27:13] figured out I’ve been to the moon seven times and back in terms of travel.
I have really seen a lot. I don’t really brag about it, because what I really am here to say is that from all these places I’ve visited, I’m here to report that cultural heritage protection that’s dealt with in a deliberate organized way is truly a global concern. I even dared to say in my first book, “It’s a global movement.” Every country on the planet has cultural heritage protection, nature conservation or cultural heritage conversion as an agenda item.
Many countries have it as a very high agenda item. That’s really the lessons I really saw firsthand. Running through France and meeting the best people on the fields in Italy and Russian, and Vietnam and Chile, you name it; I’ve really had a glorious time meeting my counterparts all over the place. We’re like building doctors. We don’t even have to speak the same language. We know the limits of the field and the nomenclature of the field, and the objectives and so on and so forth.
It’s just amazing how the world is concerned with this subject. In the light of all the other stuff going on in the world is that charges forward through time. Honestly after all these decades, I realized especially after presentations early this morning how unbelievably important this is. The stakes couldn’t be higher. We’re talking about the human habitat, our sense of place, our sense of orientation, our sense of history.
The bottom line through it all is people in continuity. That’s what’s so special among other things about the NCPTT being here in Natchitoches, in Louisiana, right here. This is a proud, proud asset to the state that could have been in any other state, but here it is, and not just any town of Louisiana, Natchitoches. We’re a little bit jealous in New Orleans of Natchitoches. You’ve got three years on us in terms of our history. We’re trying to live with that, but it is very cool that we’re in the oldest city in the state of first French settlement. It’s an honor.
Kirk, in your team and the park service in general, it’s commitment to architectural heritage conservation, kudos. Conservation Science and Technology as you see illustrated on these posters on the wall to my opinion are the single most defining activity of the profession. They really reflect how serious this business is. It’s one of the best hopes we’ve got to figure out what to do with buildings from a technical standpoint.
It underscores how scientific and serious this business can be. To have that resource here in Louisiana is a mother ship for the study of the Science and Technology of conservation is really something. Really, I in concluding because I know there are a lot of speakers and a lot of Q&A later on would just like to say that for all the history and all the effort and all the accomplishments, we have to keep at it and somehow do even better, because the truth is there are so many perils to history.
I mean, really the list goes long. They fall under two categories, the human-made sources and the natural sources from fire, and rain, and flood, and earthquakes, and lightning, and whatever under the natural category. Sadly, the list of human threats to cultural heritage is growing longer year after year. Who would have thought terrorism and targeting heritage would be a big threat in our time?
Well, it is. It popped up just not, what, 10, 15 years ago. The lists are going longer, but we’re getting smarter about it. All of these have long maintained that the best way to approach this is look at the root cause of these things, and go at that, not just the symptoms, but also, we have these fantastic new technologies and techniques for addressing these things.
Who would have thought? I mean, look at the power of mass communication today and the way we can communicate by internet, sold and share lessons in the field and experiences and information and what not. That’s a hugely powerful tool. The state of preservation education is that an all-time high and growing.
I’m proud that my little program at Tulane, which was started about 15 years ago, is bigger and better than ever. We’re having a blast tweaking it for the better with cool new lectures and courses, and what not, and having a good time doing one thing that might interest you all; I might add. Parenthetically, we developed the history of New Orleans’ preservation. Really history of Louisiana preservation. Laura Hudson is going to be on that list by the way.
It’s called New Orleans Preservation Timeline, where we have a database where one can look at the progress of preservation in the state over time from the beginnings in the 1850’s. That’s interesting because we all wonder sooner or later why are things the way they are, and we have all these people to thank, people whose shoulders were standing on to this day to continue with.
There are other things as well, but I really would like to say after all this; well, it’s an honor to be here with you all at home in North Louisiana, among people I love, and in a very special place, Cane River. Congratulations on your huge accomplishment. Kudos to the NCPTT. Our friendships, growing friendships together and through the course of the morning, we’ll be hearing about more solutions, directions, ideas for going forward.
A power to us and long winding wave. Thank you all.
Kirk: Thank you, John. We can now just count on you for some good food for thought. Now, we have many wonderful SHPOs in the United States. We’re blessed to have one of the best in Louisiana. I want to welcome Pam Breaux now to the podium. Thank you.
Pam: Whoa! Let’s see if we can bring this one to my size. Good morning everybody! Okay, I’m going to get set up here. I couldn’t be more happy to be here today. It’s a gorgeous Sunday morning in Natchitoches. I got in yesterday afternoon with just enough time to stroll French Street before connecting to my fellow panelists for a really nice evening. I came to Natchitoches yesterday via Oberlin, so Baton Rouge, Oberlin, and Natchitoches.
Do you know where Oberlin is? Oberlin is in Allen Parish. It’s about 120 or so miles south east of here. I was there because I was asked to speak at a ceremony honoring the centennial. That centennial theme is happening here today, but the centennial of the Allen Parish Court House. I was asked by their committee to address two particular points. The first thing they asked me to do is to remind our community that local and state history and culture are overly important.
Well, and certainly when we stop to think about that, we all agree that it’s important, but it’s fair that it’s important to be reminded from time to time. They asked me to speak to that as well as to use the opportunity to remind the community that with respect to history and culture, it’s also important to work together, roll up the sleeves to get things done. Of course, there’s a lot of collaboration in Allen Parish as there is everywhere, but I thought it was an interesting request. It certainly shaped some of the stories I shared with them.
What’s interesting about that request and being in Natchitoches today is that here, we have a community that has thrived because of its commitment to preserving its culture, preserving its architecture, preserving its history, and then really strategically bring those things to bear to progress the community and move it forward. Really, it’s giving me a lot of good pause and excitement to have both these experiences and these questions swirling around this very week.
As I chatted with the folks in Oberlin, I told them the story of Poverty Point. I’m doing that a lot these days because it’s very important and on the radar. I find that the question I’m about to ask you has a very different answer as it move up the state. How many of you over here have heard of Poverty Point and know where it is? You see, just about everybody. That wasn’t the case 120 miles southeast of here. It’s definitely not the case along the [inaudible 00:37:08] where I hail from myself.
Poverty Point is so incredibly important because … Well, I’ll tell you a little bit about why it is. You probably know generally, and some of you very specifically what is so special about Poverty Point. At the early 3400 years ago, it was settled by remarkable group of Native Americans. They lived there 600 years, 600 years. A highly organized and effective settlement engaged in a lot of really smart principles like flood control. They did that really well.
It’s amazing that at that point in time, 3400 years ago, there was a community that was very advanced, that sustained itself in the state that we call Louisiana. Just to give you an idea of what that means in terms of what was going on in the world at that time, 3400 years ago, here are the headlines. Here is how Louisiana fit.
In Egypt, Queen Nefertiti and the boy Pharaoh Tutankhamen, right, King Tat, they ruled. In Britain, Stonehenge was being wrapped up. They were just finishing it. In China, the Shang Dynasty was flourishing. In North America particularly all of the space, the U.S. base in north of Mexico, the assumption was that everyone was nomadic. They [inaudible 00:38:39]. Well, here they are in Louisiana.
Thirty thousand and 400 years ago and today, we just [inaudible 00:38:49] the different. Some things don’t change about these place we call home, and so I think it’s a source of pride for all of us here that Poverty Point gave the United States quite frankly. Some archaeologists even phrased it this way, “America’s first city,” because it was very much a settlement, and obviously our first Louisianans and that particular term is what our lieutenant governor Jay Dardenne likes to use.
For the past eight years, the community of Northeast, Louisiana and our office have worked together, rolling up our sleeves to position Poverty Point for some significant recognition that it deserves. We began to track toward getting Poverty Point listed as a world heritage site. Although Baton Rouge, in our office is certainly in a very different place in the state from Northeast, Louisiana, we very much functioned as a community in getting this done.
Over the course of those years, it was important for us to be in constant conversations with the farmers surrounding the site. The Native American tribes of the south eastern part of the country, we all formed really a community, rolling up our sleeves to get that work done. On June 22nd, Poverty Point became the United States’ 22nd world heritage site, so amongst about just over 1,000 world heritage sites across the world.
Of course, that brings a really interesting opportunity. Be careful with your journeys. Eight years ago, we thought that journey was we’re going to get world heritage status, which we did and very excited about that, but that wasn’t the destination. We’re still on the journey. Now, the question becomes and the opportunity, and it is, “How do we now work with the community there and as a community to really turn that into something amazing?”
We know there will be an automatic bump in tourism. Even my personal Facebook page told me or showed me about a week after the inscription of Poverty Point that there were Louisianans bringing their German visitors to Poverty Point to celebrate that fact. I mean, lots of folks in Europe just for example. I mean, world heritage sites are on their bucket list. They want to see them. We’ve already began to see a small bump in tourism, but now is the opportunity to really roll our sleeves up as a community, and get busy ensuring that we position and leverage the property and the community to really reap great rewards.
Natchitoches as it strikes me has been really good at that in so many ways. I mean, there are lots of examples. I’ll use a tiny one that happens to come to mind right now. Yesterday as I was strolling, I stopped to check out the Steel Magnolia’s House. It strikes me that obviously having the film done here was important and that inherently created a tourism bump, Natchitoches did some really smart and strategic work, and a lot of hard work since that time to leverage those opportunities even more.
That’s just one tiny piece in that tourism equation that this area has done so very well. This is on us now to begin to get that work done. Just a big picture, we’re forming a commission alongside some test scores at … with some test courses to really help the community plan and move forward around ideas of helping to protect the site, developing tourism, developing sensitive small business approaches to supporting the tourism industry, and maybe doing that in a way that honors the local agricultural community as well as the importance of the site.
We’re very excited to get that work moving. We’ll be celebrating a launching that work as well as the formal dedication of Poverty Point as a world heritage site on October the 11th. I know that’s a big weekend here, so I’m not going to give you a hard sell. If you find you have a little time on October the 11th, we’re celebrating Poverty Point at Poverty Point all day long with a big community celebration kicking off at 10:00 in the morning with a dedication ceremony. Then moving into just a lot of community fun. We’re excited to join.
I’d like to share two other pieces of information with you around the idea of how historic preservation and culture are really helping to build Louisiana’s communities, and in a way that I think we can be proud of just like the opportunity at Poverty Point. Our office directs and manages the Louisiana main street program. Natchitoches knows that program well because you’re one of our shining examples of a main street community.
We now have 37 main street communities. Of course, this group doesn’t need me to tell them what that’s about, historic preservation, economic restructuring, and great training for volunteers who do amazing work to garner some really great results. Just a big picture, last year, the Louisiana main streets, so all 37 of those districts within communities, last year, 147 net to [inaudible 00:44:48] were created in those communities.
That’s an average of four new diseases per community. Those 37 communities also created 436 jobs, and 9300 volunteers worked countless hours to help that happen. Now last year and well actually this year marks the 38th anniversary of the main street program for our state. Thirty years of results like that, consistent good results that have grown over time.
It’s a program we’re really excited about. Most importantly, I think for today’s discussion, it’s a program that really demonstrates how preservation and culture can really have a deep community impact that’s economic. It’s social. It’s cultural, and it’s just all around fulfilling for a community.
The second example I’d like to provide is from our cultural district’s program, which is a whole lot more. When we developed that program about six years ago, it was designed to pair selling original art work from Louisiana’s creative people alongside historic preservation to create hubs of cultural activity. Many communities have taken us up on the opportunity to try to get that done.
Over the course of these six years, we now have 75 cultural districts across our state, small communities, large communities yet just trying to use their authentic selves, their culture, their art in preservation as a catalyst for community revitalization. Arnaudville, Louisiana is an example I’d love to use today because this past week, they just celebrated some amazing milestones. It’s a town of 400, 1400. Excuse me, 1400, and their cultural district and creative place making efforts on the economic side, it’s doubled the town tax [inaudible 00:46:54], doubled.
On the cultural side and the social side, people who left Arnaudville fast after high school, they’re beginning to come back and start businesses. Amazing things are happening there. It’s a town of 1400. It’s about a vision and a commitment to work as a cohesive unit rolling up the sleeves to get work done. When you look at all the cultural districts across our state, since 2008, the districts have reported, and just their mind in 2008 wouldn’t have very many districts. We’ve moved up gradually.
To the 75 districts since 2008, 42 [inaudible 00:47:37] in the sale of original one of a kind art has happened in those districts. That’s not all the art sales in our state. That’s just the slice. The only slice this accounts for is the art sales that happened to benefit from a sales tax exemption that we’ve created as an incentive in the program. There’s a lot of other art that sold in the districts. For example, you do a photograph and you have 1,000 prints and you sell those. That’s not included. This is strictly original one of kind artwork.
The art business in our state is significant. It’s important for us to realize that. It’s not about starving artists. It’s about business as well as art and culture. In those cultural districts, blight is down. Vacancy rates are down in along those commercial corridors. Across those 75 districts, over 2,000 net may businesses are in existence. Every year, the total revenues for those districts increase.
This past year, 2014, they sold $1.27 billion in revenue. What plaguing culture to the center is doing is creating spaces and places that people want to be in, visitors as well as our citizens alike. In accepting the invitation to be here today, I had no idea that Allen Parish would be on this agenda. I guess, I didn’t realize that until the afternoon before I went to Allen Parish, and began thinking about what I expected for both conveniences.
In the Allen Parish questions of, “Why is history important, and why will they work together to get things in culture done?” It strikes me that the Allen Parish questions are the fundamental reason today’s convening here in Natchitoches are so important. Preservation conversations need to take place because there are a lot of benefits, but those I’m focusing on right now are the community building benefits that I think are so important in our state and across our state.
As many preservation in arts and culture good news stories as we can count to, that’s wonderful. Certainly, we need to applaud those. At the same time, I’m stricken by the fact that there are other areas of our state and more communities that can benefit from these very same kinds of initiatives. Let me leave you with a couple of ideas. One, I’m going to try to pay omit to Kirk’s original question about resources.
I’m not going to speak to the historic preservation fund, but I am going to throw out a kernel of an idea as feed for thought. It’s the one that I threw out actually with our panel over dinner last night. It’s the idea of legacy and Americans investing and the legacy they want to leave. The example I want to use for you there is Minnesota of all places. Within the past few years, not even five years ago I believe, Minnesotans levied upon themselves via constitutional amendment a legacy tax.
It’s a 25-year tax dedicated to trying to ensure that the Minnesota they leave their grand kids is a Minnesota that is good, that has 10,000 lakes that are not polluted lakes but clean lakes, that has art and history, and clean water, culture, parks, zoos, evocative of the kind of environment in cultural scene, they want to leave as the inheritance for the people who come behind them.
That happened because interesting communities of constituents came together and worked on this for about 10 years. We never before had arts and fisheries work together, so the folks who bond it together were the clean water folks, fisheries, arts, preservation, zoos, parks. Interesting casts of characters, I mean in hindsight, I think that there are some things they obviously have in common. They eventually figured that out, but the idea of legacy I think might be an interesting one.
I’m not necessarily suggesting a legacy tax, but I think what I am suggesting whether it’s in Louisiana specific or United States at large, the idea of a people stepping up to invest in the legacy that they want to leave is one that should be in the hopper as we think about resources for preservation and culture, and how we might re-imagine those in a bit of a different way.
I’m going to leave you with a final just a snitch of something that’s a little bit fun. Some of you may know already that the new National Geographic traveler is out for October. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should pick one up because it focuses on Louisiana. No, we did not pay for that opportunity. This was something they did. It refers to Louisiana very specifically and appropriately as, let’s see; the weirdest country in America. If you’re like me, you’re really prouder then. Thank you.
Kirk: Thank you, Pam. You gave us some wonderful examples of how preservation can be such a powerful tool to build communities and improve your economies, and the quality of life in them. Thank you for sharing those thoughts with us today. Next one, invite up Patty Gay, the Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center in New Orleans. I was realizing last night that I’ve known Patty since 1978. She’s an old and dear friend of mine, and a great inspiration to me and my career. We’ll just welcome her to the podium this morning. Thank you.
Patty: That is so nice, and how wonderful to be here today. We are thrilled to have Senator Landrieu’s staff. We know the work that you do. We know you’re going to take all these messages back, and act on these things. We do indeed have our work cut out for us. Before I get into that negative, just a little bit about the positive I want to add to everything that has just been said.
First, can you believe that we have John Stubbs here in Louisiana? He is, I’m positive, the most well traveled, which is not the important thing, the best expert internationally on historic preservation around the world. He knows more than anyone, I am positive, on historic sites around the world. Look! He is right here in our state. Thank you, John, for coming back. We are so fortunate.
I want to thank our state Department of culture Recreation and Tourism in particular for the work at Poverty Point and for making our state rank year after year, almost every year, in the top 10 states in the country in dollars invested in our state through the Rehab Tax Credit, the Federal Rehab Tax Credit. Now, name some more lists, we’re way at the top.
The problem is, to get into the bad side of it, that is not recognized. We are not recognized as an industry. Of course, everybody here, I’m preaching to the crowd. That’s what we’ve got to figure out here today is how do we get this word out. We all know it, but how many people know it? We have some built-in problems. You renovate buildings. How can we expect people to know what went into getting those buildings renovated when they see them all in their glory?
Yet blood, sweat and tears and more went into saving buildings in New Orleans especially. My organization is a little different from a lot of other preservation organizations, and that we do buy, restore, and renovate and blighted properties. That means we have to sell the properties. We don’t have the money to do it and give it away. We sell these properties through awareness. We sell advocacy through awareness through this magazine. We get a grant from the state. We’re very proud to have the state sponsoring this magazine with us.
I think, we do a pretty good job marketing and promoting the incredible rich resources that we have in this state, but throughout the state, not just New Orleans. When the storm hit, the PRC had already targeted a lower ninth ward historic neighborhood, the Holy Cross Neighborhood. It was flooded, but guess what, the water went out within three days. Of course, the people couldn’t come back for almost eight months to live in their houses or even to do anything to repair their houses, but we said, “Well, we are here for the long run.”
This came out in ’11. There is 2011. We marketed that neighborhood. We’re soon selling our 45th and 46th house in this neighborhood. We’ve gotten property values to go up a little bit the way you want them to do. We want people’s investment at least to be stabilized, not to be plunging. This neighborhood is looking good. I’m so glad to know that John, you went into the Holy Cross neighborhood. We wish we could pull a little plaque up on the houses that we have there, because not only have we done those buildings; we have another program that again is different from other preservation organizations.
It’s called Rebuilding Together, where we put volunteer teams to work on the homes of elderly low-income homeowners, or veterans, or single parent head of household. It’s all lower-income homeowners. It is so exciting. We were doing it every October before the storm. After the storm, it was everywhere all the time. The volunteer teams came in from all over the country. It was incredible. That reminds me.
If anyone asks me, “Well, what should we do? Do you have any lessons for preparedness for disasters,” I would say, “The first thing you need to do now is make sure you have a place that people love, because our whole city was evacuated.” People went elsewhere for long lengths of time. To a great degree, our city is dysfunctional. We have some problems in our city. People saw, “Oh well, there’s not quite so much corruption. Maybe not quite so much crime. Maybe better schools,” but guess what. People loved our city. They came back. New people have moved here. People love it.
I say, naturally, you would expect me to say this. It is because what we have done in historic preservation. New Orleans was still a large city back in 1936. Throughout the 19th century, well for more than half, we were in the top five cities, that we continued to grow after the civil war. We’ve just evolved and so forth. That just tells you a lot about what was going on New Orleans for many decades.
In 1936, we became the first large city. Actually, I need to do a little research to see who was the next large city to do this to protect, to create a historic district. We established the [inaudible 01:00:31] recognition. We’re the only large city that has its original city. Name one. You can’t do it. I’m there now. Charleston can’t stand it. They were before us, where they are commissioned, but we were seven times bigger. It is different when you’re a big city.
We know that other towns and thank goodness, we have Natchitoches that has just such a jewel in the crown. Believe me. A lot of us know in New Orleans that you are older than we are. It’s sometimes surprising for them to find out, but we tell them. So many great things have happened. The main street program, the Rehab Tax Credit of course has helped to bring back our cities.
Most of you probably think, “Oh it’s great. American cities are coming back. They are being revitalized. The downtowns now have people walking on the streets, a few or vacant and blighted buildings.” Don’t think for one minute that the work is over, please. The problem is that people don’t understand the role of Historic Preservation in this come back of these cities. It was President Reagan I believe who said …
We’re celebrating our 48th anniversary. I’ve been there the whole time at PRC. My memory fails maybe, or I get things mixed up. I love superlatives and hyperbole, but I think preservation deserves it. I think it was President Reagan who said, “Nation is as great as its cities.” Guess what? Our cities aren’t so great anymore. I brought this chart for you to see about population decline from the peak to what they are today.
When we did this, it was about a year-and-a-half ago that we created this chart. My assistant found out somewhere that St. Louis is the only city on record with over 500,000 people to have lost two-thirds of its population. I mean, of course, Detroit had lost more because it’s a lot bigger than St. Louis. I have some copies of this. You can get it later if you want to be totally depressed.
You know what? If we don’t know that we have a problem, it’s not going to be addressed. People are moving back to cities, but it could be a bubble that burst. I mean, we are not there yet, and the preservation programs and the historic built environment are what we can use to make that happen. I submit to you that the fact that our National Parks Service has $11 billion in maintenance that needs to be done, and the fact that our main street program, I don’t know what the peak was compared to now, but I know that since ’09, we looked at it in ’11, it had been cut in half, this fabulous main street program.
I submit to you that it’s because people … Not here so much in Natchitoches, but because of this general decline of cities, we have lost a civic consciousness, a civic awareness. We have lost educationally. You know our education levels are not keeping up with other places in the world. I’m so full of good news, aren’t I? I think it has everything to do with cities and the decline of cities.
It perpetuates civic ideals and history. Just the very built environment teaches you something when you walk down the street. It tells you that people were here before. You can’t teach people everything in the classroom. That is ridiculous. Well, anybody who knows anything about education knows that’s the case. We have to keep going with our cities.
Do you know every year, we have to lobby for the Rehab Tax Credit? Now, as I said, we have been in the top 10 almost every year. That’s a complicated thing the way we’re evaluated. We have generally more projects that a lot of states way up there, which I think is good. In other words, we have many big projects, but we have a lot of smaller projects too, which means it’s spread around. I like that.
I’m so proud of our state preservation office. Let’s give them a hand. I mean, really. I’m not kidding. That’s what in the list are we almost consistently near the top, a good list? I’m talking about dollars. I’m not talking that, “Oh, isn’t it nice?” We of course want to save our buildings because of our historic heritage and so forth, and how valuable they are. It’s the economics of it that we need to argue right now.
I want to leave you with the two things. Well first, I do want to say that how wonderful it has been in just a short amount of time to link up with the National Park Conservation Association, an advocacy group, and others here today. How wonderful for us to hear about Laura Hudson, how wonderful for us to hear about the great work here.
It really is a jewel in the crown. Surely, we can do the right things with tourism. I love hearing about the planning that is now going on. We know in New Orleans, you can do the wrong thing. I mean, tourism success can lead to some bad things. I mean, if we preservationists blink our eyes for 10 minutes, the view [inaudible 01:06:17] would be a bourbon street theme park, not Disney Land, a bourbon street theme park. That whole thing would just go.
Success breaths its own problems. I think our state office is aware that we have to do the right thing with Poverty Point. We have to avoid cultural degradation. Isn’t that a great term? That we think about it. We made some good connections here. I will leave you with the importance of awareness. We need ideas. Let’s all try to think about what we can do to get the word out about how important preservation is a means to an end to save our cities and to bring back more awareness on the part of every citizen.
I did bring some magazines. Please help yourself in the back. I’m very happy to say, because you wondered, “Do people read or not?” Excuse me. That people read less and less; I do believe, but this column that I wrote on [inaudible 01:07:24] tourism and the economy has gotten a lot of attention. Now, these are all on our website. Don’t ask me about social media and all of that.
We started doing this newspaper. I was the first volunteer co-editor back in ’75; I believe. It’s all on, now, in our archive on our website. Try to figure out what more we can do to generate awareness. The next thing is the advocacy. We absolutely have got to get our act together for advocacy. We have to get all of our members of congress to support the Rehab Tax Credit, and full funding for the historic preservation fund for all the good that isn’t …
Can you believe $150 million for the whole U.S.? That’s what we’re asking for. We’ve never gotten even half of that. In all of these years, we’re never even gotten half of it. Look at the good we have done. Some people think, “Oh, you’re going to lobby for $150 million for Louisiana.” Nope, the whole United States, but a little bit goes a long way in the historic preservation. Just look at main street, it’s not much funding.
If you ever have a little bit though, you’re not going to get anywhere, but a little bit goes a long way. One more accolade, do you know that three cities called up [inaudible 01:08:57] and said, “We want to become main street towns.” He said as he’s had this to say recently. He said, “Well, I’m sorry. We can’t do it. We don’t have any funding.” They said, “We don’t care. Just designate us a main street town.” Of course, they will come up with some of their own resources because you do have to have that little bit.
Kenner? We put them on the front page of our magazine. Kenner and Homer, and Monroe all said, “We want to be main street towns even if you don’t have funding.” Doesn’t that make your heart feel good, but aren’t you ashamed that we don’t have the funding anymore? We have got to work hard for that in Baton Rouge and in Washington. One last thing, preservation here is by partisan. For better or for worse, it is by partisan. We have to sing that song.
Surely, the republicans can buy into it. We are talking about private investment. We are talking about catalysts. We’re not talking about things that need ongoing subsidy. There are some things that get subsidized. The minute that subsidy goes away, they’re gone too. Not in preservation. If the Rehab Credit disappears, guess what, you’re going to still see the buildings. I will say that I’m very proud to say that I was on the board of the National Center for Preservation Technology in ’97, the late ’90’s when the fire occurred, and I’m so happy.
Really, we didn’t know if we were ever, ever going to get this building restored in those years. It is fantastic. Thank you for the good work, all of you. Let’s all vow today that we are going to do better with our advocacy. Thank you.
Kirk: Thank you Patty for that enthusiastic reminder of what we’ve accomplished. Surely of any movement in the United States, we are the most successful with the least recognition for what we’ve accomplished. I think, we can be proud that we helped really begin to turn around our cities, and we need to know all of our policy makers and elected representatives to know that these are the tools that have been successful over these years, and we need to strengthen and continue them. Thank you very much.
I’d like to now welcome my boss to the podium, again Associate Director, Stephanie Toothman. She’s the Associate Director for Cultural Resources Partnerships and Science in Washington, D.C. Again as I said over all the preservation programs, I was trying to think what I could say about it that isn’t going to embarrass her this morning. I’m going to embarrass her anyway.
I have worked for the Parks Service for 34 years. I began my career here in Louisiana, and spend all the rest of that time that I’ve been working in preservation. I’ve had the privilege of knowing, I think, every associate director over the cultural resources programs and the parks service.
Most people that work in preservation even don’t realize how critical this position is because it’s responsible for everything that goes on in the national parks, everything that goes on in the state Historic Preservation offices, all of our policy, all of the promotion, all of the funding, all that, she’s the advocate for all of those things. I have to say that she is the most thoughtful and competent of the associate directors I’ve had the privilege to know. I’m thrilled to have her with us today, so Stephanie.
Stephanie: Thank you, Kirk. That means a lot coming from you, because Kirk has been from my perspective without a doubt the most effective leader of NCPTT in its history. It really is truly my pleasure to join you today. I can’t tell you how much I recharge and get energized when I hear from what’s going on here on the ground, from the folks who are making it work, from the creativity that I hear from Patty and Pam and the communities.
It really does recharge me for going back and waiting into the battles that we fight on a daily basis for your … on your behalf. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here to share with you the challenges that the National Parks Service is facing as both the steward of some of our most valued national stories and sites, and as importantly as an advocate for our partners for the National Preservation Program.
Before I do that though, I want to share with you Director Jarvis’ greetings. He really wanted me to thank all of you in Louisiana who were so effective in leading the fight for the designation of Poverty Point. Until you’ve gotten into one of those efforts, it’s really … You have no idea how much energy and resources it takes to do that. We are so thrilled with the success, and we also very much appreciated Senator Landrieu’s support in helping us secure that designation.
All of us in the National Parks Service also want to add our thanks for the work of Laura Hudson as an advocate in so many ways for historic preservation and many of her ideas as Laura Gates so effectively laid out today have formed a lasting legacy that not only Louisiana, but all of us benefit from.
I’m going to be talking about these. There are sub copies still I think on the table. This is the culture resource challenge. It’s current flam that Craig referred to. It is our statement of where we think we need to go. I’d like to start my remarks today by sharing with you an excerpt from the preamble to the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, because that act continues to inspire me by the sheer brilliance of the concept and the legacy that it has helped us create.
It is featured very much so in this document. The spirit and direction of the nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage. The historical and cultural foundations of the nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people. The preservation of this irreplaceable heritage is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, economic, and energy benefits will be maintained and enriched for future generations.
This preamble continues to inspire us today, and its clarity … in the clarity with which it states the importance of preserving our shared heritage to all aspects of our lives as families, as communities, as citizens. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Act and the National Parks Centennial both in 2016, the National Parks Service working with many of our partners has taken this opportunity to reflect on both what we have achieved.
You’ve heard so much from Patty and Pam and John today, and from many others what challenges we face and what the opportunities are from moving forward. The partnerships structure established by the act carry out a National Preservation Program. Those partners are federal, state, local, public, private, tribal continues to be the strength of the program as you’ve already heard.
Supporting this partnership is us, one of the primary goals of the national park services, culture resource challenge, preserving America’s shared heritage in the 21st century. As we outline not only the critical challenges we face at all levels of the partnership, but also our strategy for addressing those challenges within the context of declining budget and stuff that we all face whatever level of government or public or private organization, we’re all facing those challenges.
You’ve already heard something about the HPF. I apologize for the repetition, but it really is that foundation of the program. I think, it’s worth repeating. To illustrate with a few statistics some of which you’ve heard, the Cultural Resource Program staff capacity, and this is for the parks side of our programs, for stewardship of National Parks has declined by approximately 30% since 1997. These are statistics compiled by the National Academy of Public Administrators.
For everyone who is doing such great work here in Louisiana and other in our national parks, there are ghosts of people who used to be there. For our state, local, and private partners funding from HPF has remained essentially flat since 1980 outside of spikes for funding to save America’s treasures program, which has not been funded since 2010, which funded projects like the restoration of Melrose Plantation and many others throughout the state in which is greatly missed, and the disaster relief after Katrina and Sandy.
Translating this into dollars, the 50-million state programs received in 1980 would be approximately 143 million in 2014, very close to the $150 million authorization level that you’ve heard about. The combined funding for both states and travel programs in 2014 was 56 million to provide support to 57 states and territories, 140 plus tribes, and 1800 certified local governments.
What was seen as a adequate level of funding in 1950 … Not 1950, 1980 is now barely covering our mandated reviews of federal projects. Funding for heritage areas such as Cane River has been a roller coaster ride. The budget for the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training scientific and research programs has remained flat since it was established in the late 1980’s. The impact for NCPTT has been that the grants program that has been such a critical part of inspiring and supporting conservation research throughout the nation has essentially dwindled to a couple $100,000.
The impacts of this flat funding on our partners has made for funding for the Historic Preservation Fund the number one priority for the National Preservation community, and the goal of the Department of the Interior – America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. We have identified through the challenge and though the Second Century Commission that Craig Obey referred to more than $200 million in funding needs for the three funding sources, the Historic Preservation Fund, the National Recreation and Preservation Fund, and the Operations of the National Parks Service to support our efforts in communities and national parks throughout the country.
That said, we recognize the budget process is an most likely to continue to be uncertain for this foreseeable future. We recognize that the country is facing many challenges, and balancing between those needs is always a very difficult task for both congress and the administration. The need for a major initiative however such as the National Parks Services’ natural resource challenge of the 2000’s is there. The scope is greater because we’re not just looking at the parks needs; we’re looking at our partners’ needs as well.
In putting together the challenge, we chose to identify five major goals and 40 associated actions in the areas in which we felt we could make progress by focusing our efforts, by collaborating with our partners, by seizing opportunities when we can. Opportunistic is my middle name, but I’m going to look for partners wherever I can find. I’m very pleased. For example, we’ve been able to reestablish a Maritime Heritage initiative by partnering with the Maritime Administration, and receiving finally some of the receipts from the disassembly of old decommissioned ships. That program has just put out its first call for heritage grants since 1999 I think it was.
That’s being opportunistic, but it’s not a long-term solution. All these goals and actions are scalable and aspirational, and we believe relevant to not only the National Preservation Program but to the major challenges facing us as a nation. I’d like to in the short time today focus on goals three and four, because they are focused on that issue of relevancy.
Under goal three, we are seeking to connect all Americans to their heritage resources in a manner that resonates with their lives, legacies, and dreams, and tell us stories that make up America’s diverse national identity. I had the privilege this week to meet with a group of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders who are very interested in historic preservation. They are people who have really began applying the guidelines, the opportunities for grants, the support that we can give them in their communities in the Pacific and in the Pacific west.
They were brought there. They are meeting for the first time to Washington. Their enthusiasm, their need to tell their stories to get that recognition is so palpable that it just touches you, and it makes … Again, it re-energizes you. This is what this … They really represent what this goal means on the ground in terms of actual implementation. I’ll just backup for a minute.
When I came to Washington in 2010, I really came thinking, “Okay, this is our time. This is our time for the us, for the cultural resource challenge.” Of course, obviously with the budget situation, that was not going to be the reality, and so we had a choice. We could put out the big us. We could list the long list of needs that we have and our challenges. Then wait, or we could say, “Waiting is not an option. These are fragile resources. They’re irreplaceable when they’re lost, and so we’re going to seek every opportunity possible to see how we could move forward.”
Getting back to my remarks, what does this goal three mean on the ground? It means that our park units are working with their associated communities to tell the diversity of stories associated with their parks. It means that Everglades for example is not only telling the incredible environmental story there, but it’s telling the story of Dr. Mudd being incarcerated at 4th Jefferson after World War II, and telling the story, more contemporary story of the Bay of Pigs invasion that was launched in part from a [inaudible 01:25:47] missile site within the Everglades and of the Cubans who continued to use the Dry Tortugas, which is also managed by Everglades as their opportunity for that first landfall on American soil.
Virtually, all of our parks have this complexity of stories. That’s one the things we’re trying to support. The programs and preservation efforts right here in Louisiana between the park and heritage area here in Cane River is an outstanding example of this vision. Another example is our effort to tell the stories of all who participated in the Civil War. In the past two years, we have published new studies on the participation of people of Hispanic descent, Native Americans, and Asian-Americans in the Civil War.
When you look at the cover of the American Indians in the Civil War, you see a Cherokee tribal member who was the right hand of General Grant. How many people knew that story? Those are the stories that we’re trying to bring out. We’ve launched four new initiatives laid up nationwide working with scholars to expand our understanding of the contributions and resources associated with American, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders, women, and most recently the LGBT community.
We are seeking to increase the representation of these resources in the National Register of Historic Places and in the National Landmark Program. If we don’t, then the description of the National Register as those places that Americans feel are worthy of preservation is really not as inclusive as it should be.
We know that the National Parks Service can only accomplish these goals through our partnerships, which again is why we were so excited to be able to establish yet another new grant program this year to help states survey communities that are presently under represented in their statewide surveys and in the national surveys as well. We received an extra $500,000 this year in the HPF appropriation based on the groundwork that we did with the National Conference that showed that need.
We received more than 36 applicants in less than 30 days once we made the money available. I would be very pleased to be able to share those, the awardees which represent a variety of groups across the country I think by the end of this month. We had $1.5 million in request, and $500,000 to distribute. We’re very hopeful that that $500,000 and or more will continue to be as part of the appropriation in 2015. Those are some of the things we’re doing to increase our ability in the participation of all Americans, and empowering them to tell their stories and to preserve the resources that are important to them.
Goal four which is also looking at relevancy, and I think Patty spoke particularly to this, is to integrate the values of heritage stewardship into the major initiatives and issues such as renewable energy, community assistance and revitalization, sustainability while cultivating excellence in Science and technical preservation as a foundation for resource protection management and rehabilitation.
Well, I don’t need to tell the people of Louisiana how critical it is that we plan for dealing with the predicted impacts of changing climate in our heritage … on our heritage resources. If we needed a reminder, Hurricane Sandy underscored the lessons along stretch of the East Coast in the past two years. The National Parks Service alone experienced more than 500 million of damages to our own infrastructure for Hurricane Sandy, much of it to historic resources.
We are taking the federal lead in developing strategic plan for climate change as it impacts cultural resources and associated disaster response needs. NCPTT has been a critical part of that initiative. Among their many contributions have been Disaster Response Assessment Tools, training, and research into various conservation issues. Our technical preservation services group is developing guidance for increasing the resiliency of historic structures, and we are assessing the vulnerability of our museum collections along the coastal parks.
Right sizing and community revitalization is another national challenge, in which the pilot preservation has been demonstrated and must remain a critical tool. This year’s report on the historic tax credits for rehabilitation reports that in FY13, the school year 13, the National Parks Service and states reviewed and certified 803 historic preservation projects representing $3.3 billion in estimated rehabilitation costs.
Since the program’s inception in 1976, more than 39,000 historic buildings representing $109 billion in investment and 2.4 billion jobs have been rehabilitated, making it one of the nation’s most successful community revitalization strategies. Maintaining the credits is one of the highest priorities along with the HPF for the National Preservation Program. Another area in which we’re working here in Louisiana and throughout the country is to maintain the traditional skills to ensure that we can preserve the thousands of historic structures and landscapes that we care for.
I want to commend Laura Gates and our southeast region for announcing this year that they will be forming a team to focus on the issues of preserving traditional building practices in the south including [inaudible 01:32:14]. Did I pronounce that correctly? She’d been training me, and also again NCPTT for the research and technical support they provide to parks and partners on issues such as white washing and [murder 01:32:27] analysis which may seem fairly low key preservation, but for communities where that was a traditional skill and traditional method of preserving, it’s critical that we preserve the knowledge that will help preserve those buildings.
These are only a few of the initiatives that we’re undertaking to prepare the National Parks Service and our partners to answer the fundamental questions of merely what we have known, what the threats are, and then what the range and feasibility of management options are to preserve our shared heritage. Expanding our access to and the usability of our national databases through GIS and digitization is on their way. Engaging through interpretation and education service and work opportunities and technical assistants with all ages is another priority.
The bottom line is that cultural heritage defines us as individuals and as a nation, and we need to work together. We need to roll up our sleeves. We need to capture through the many partnerships that we have. Through all of this, we can continue to move forward the vision of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Thank you for the opportunity for joining you. I look forward to hearing the discussion.
Kirk: Thank you Dr. Toothman for giving us many important things to think about this morning. Before we move on to recognize one of our distinguish guest, we have so many distinguish members of the community here today. I noticed that the mayor was here. Mayor Lee Posey, would you take a bow? We’re glad to have you.
The mayor is always someone we can count on to support our preservation efforts in the community. We appreciate you being here this morning. Now, I want to welcome our last speaker this morning. As you know, Senator Landrieu couldn’t be here. I was disappointed as I’m sure all of you were to find that out yesterday, but I was very pleased to know that she was sending her Chief of Staff to us today,
We really appreciate that. It’s a great opportunity to have really the number one person on her staff to be here with us from Washington today. I didn’t have a lot of time to get to connect with Don Cravins before he came, but I had to check online, and realized he has had a quite a distinguish career on the Hill in Washington, but also an interesting fact that some of you may not know is that he is a former member of the House of Representatives on the state of Louisiana, and He and his father has served in the center at that time, where they’re the only father-son that have ever served together in the state house in Louisiana.
I think that’s an interesting historical aspect as well. Don, we’re very glad to have you this morning. Mr. Cravins, if you come and join us now, we’d be glad to hear your thoughts.
Don: Good morning! First of all, let’s get the bad news out of the way. I’m so sorry and very disappointed as well that Senator Landrieu could not be here with you. I know it meant a lot to many of you for her to be here this morning. On her behalf, and she and I spoke this morning; we spoke last night; she is sincerely, sincerely sorry she couldn’t be here today.
She gave me such great stories about Laura and how important this meant to her, and Laura meant to her, and the work that Laura did. I want to just start my talk by telling you that again. That I am very, very deeply apologetic that she is not here. I am not apologetic that I am here. I’m glad to be here.
As I read about Laura’s legacy last night and prepared for this, I am a man of faith. Then I started to question maybe I was supposed to be here today, because I think Laura’s legacy shows that sometimes congressional staffers and many of you who work for the mayor or work maybe a little bit behind the scenes, sometimes we have an obligation. Not sometimes, all the time, we have an obligation to do our part too. That we work for people who are maybe elected. We work for people who may be appointed, but we also have an obligation to fulfill our legacy, our obligation.
We should leave a legacy as well. Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to be here today with my co-worker and good friend, Tory Bradford, who many of you know works this area for our office. Although my cohorts is Chief of Staff, I want you to know, if you know Tory, Tory is my boss. She reminds me of that. She’s a great person to work with.
I am not apologetic for being here today because I wanted to be here today. I could have used the talking points that were written for the senator. I’m not going to do that. I want to speak as Don Cravins. Kirk mentioned a little bit about my history, but I grew up in Arnaudville, Louisiana, and practiced law in Lafitte and the Opelousas area for many, many years.
I was elected to the Louisiana State Legislature in 2004 as a House of Representatives, a member of the house. I got the chance to serve in the Louisiana State Senate for a couple of years as well. Lived in Opelousas, Louisiana, got an opportunity to go and work for Mary as the Staff Director or the Chief of Staff of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C. Then I became the Chief of Staff about a year-and-a-half ago.
I tell you all of that to tell you that I think I can add to this discussion this morning as well. I want to add to that discussion. Before I get started, I want to mention my dad is the Mayor of Opelousas. If you think the people in New Orleans have a complex about being the second oldest city, we in Louisiana being the third, we need therapy as well.
I’m very happy to be here. I want to talk a little bit about what I think Senator Landrieu, where she is right now on her congressional career why that’s important. She gets the issues. She understands how important historic preservation, how important those issues are to the state of Louisiana, how important those issues are now as chairwoman of the committee of senate and at your resources.
The committee that oversees and has jurisdiction over the National Parks Service and the Department of Interior, and I’m going to talk about that in a second. She also understands, and I heard one of the presenters say, how important this issue is to all sides, to both sides of the isle. We were very, very proud to work with Pam Breaux this year and really in the past couple of years on the Poverty Point issue. That was not a partisanship issue. We were very, very honored and happy to work with our Lieutenant-Governor who is a republican. Mary is a democrat.
We were happy because that issue didn’t know partisanship. That issue didn’t know conservative or liberal. That issue didn’t know middle of the road. That was an issue that was good for everybody. I want to ask because the senator asked me to do this for you Pam. Let’s just give Pam one more round of applause for all of her hard work.
It was under her leadership, and she literally texted us when she went to Carter, and when Poverty Point was named as a world heritage site. Pam was texting us to let us know about the vote. The senator was very appreciative about that Pam. I want to thank you. In October, she’s going to be there with you celebrating that amazing feat.
Like I said, I want to talk to you about the chair of … her chairmanship. She’s always been a supporter of these efforts, but now as the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, she controls on your behalf, on our behalf as citizens of Louisiana the authorizing jurisdiction for the Department of the Interior including the National Parks Service.
Now, it’s not a coincidence that we’re talking about his lady, Laura, and Senator Johnston, and about Mary Landrieu, because it was 20 years ago that Senator Johnston was the Chair of the same committee. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Laura was able to accomplish so many of the great things with your help here in Louisiana, and her boss happened to be the chair of the committee that had oversight on these very important entities.
I started to say ladies and gentlemen, think about it. We are at a very, very critical time in our state’s history. It is taking 20 years for our senator, one of our senators to now assume again the chair of a very, very important committee. One that everyone in this room should care about, not just because we are big in oil and gas in this state, which is very critical to our infrastructure and our economy, but those of you in this room where preservation is important, that committee is just as important to you as it is to the young man who is off shore today.
You need to realize that. I know you do, as we said early, we’re preaching to the crowd, but I just wanted to remind you about that. She’s only been the chair for seven months now, but one of the first things she was able to accomplish was the passing of the Law of Mississippi River and National Parks Study Bill out of the U.S. senate. That bill has left the senate.
We’re hopeful that the House of Representatives will take that bill up and send it to the president. It will direct the secretary of the Interior to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating sites in [inaudible 01:41:46] Parish along the Law of Mississippi River area as part of the national park system. She’s also secured funding. I know that when we talk about heir marks and funding, in today’s society, those things can be a bad word.
Well, my boss doesn’t feel that way because she knows that that’s part of being a congressional member. That’s part of being a United States Senator. We’re appropriate. We’re feasible. When fiscally responsible, our members have a duty to appropriate funding for worthwhile projects.
In 2009, she secured one million for the conservation fund in Natchitoches Parish for the Law of Cane River area of the Red River National Wildlife Refuge. These funds allow the U.S. fish and wildlife service to purchase 2215 acres of land completing the second and final phase of the acquisition of the Cane River Plantation.
In 2006, she secured 25.5 million in federal dollars for cultural and historic projects in the Cane River region including 2.85 million for the Cane River National Heritage Area Commission project. In 2004, she was with your help secured one million for the Magnolia Plantation at Cane River Creole National Park. I’d be emissive I did not mention the other shining gem located right here, where we are today, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
As you know, this center was established in 1992 as an amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act. The law even went so far as to state that the center be located right here in Natchitoches at this wonderful institution. I said that didn’t happen by luck. It’s because you had a senator and a legislative director who had the vision to make that happen. He sat in the right place on Capitol Hill as chair of a committee, a powerful committee, to make that happen.
Senator Landrieu does not only sit … She sits as the chair, but there’s another position she holds in the United States Senate that a lot of people don’t hear about. In addition to being the chair of the Energy Committee, she also sits on the Appropriations Committee. On that committee, the members of that committee each chaired sub-committees.
Senator Landrieu chairs the sub-committee on Homeland Security. As a result of even that committee and the Appropriations Committee as a whole, she works every day to try to provide as many funding opportunities as she can in this tight fiscal budget for preservation. I want to talk a little bit about even some of those.
She’s provided, in 2005, almost $2 million for the NCPTT. This funding would have the senator to stimulate technology transfers from the academic and private sectors into the disciplines of archaeology, architecture, landscape, and museum conservation. Those are all things that she’s been able to do as a senator with seniority, and as she likes to say with clout, your clout because you have allowed her to serve for these past three terms.
I want to leave you with my two sets, my two giveaways. Advocacy matters. Advocacy matters. We who staff senators and congressional men and women, we listen. Tory and I are here today. This is advocacy, what you’re doing today, this conversation with the senator, great, equally as great as having that conversation with our Chief of Staff and her state director, because we go back, and we do the writing and the briefing and the calling, and so this is advocacy and it matters.
From the local level with the mayor to the state level with the lieutenant governor’s office, and your state legislature to the federal level, so every opportunity, you have to educate people in government, people in positions that can help you with resources. Please advocate. Please do.
The second takeaway, the giveaway I want to give you is I know the budget is tight. I know we keep talking about how the funding for the fun is not always … It’s not there. It is not there. That’s a big takeaway for me. That’s why my notes are here, right here, and so are these notes.
We’re going to take that back to the boss. I will promise you that she will work as hard, and we will work as hard as we can on the staff level to do everything we can to fully authorize the preservation fund. One hundred and fifty million dollar authorization and you guys won’t even see really a significant even piece of that. That’s important. That’s my takeaway from today. You got me. You got me.
The [inaudible 01:46:48] is probably not there in today’s budget. It’s there. I don’t know that in Capitol Hill with the great light we’ve got going on right now that it gets done, but I’m going to work hard to see that it is. I know Mary Landrieu is going to work hard to see that it is. I don’t want you to lose faith in it. I don’t want you to lose hope in it because that’s what I feel. A lot of people when I travel back home, and I’ve been travelling now for two weeks.
I see people all across Louisiana. They lost faith, and they lost hope in the system. I don’t want you to lose faith. I don’t want you to lose hope in the system. What I want you to leave here with today is we have two choices in Louisiana. You can keep fighting and fighting and fighting, and when it comes, hope that we get our fair share, or we can keep fighting and fighting and fighting, and know that we’ll get our fair share because we elected people like Mary Landrieu who get it, and they’re in positions as chair of the committee that oversees this to make it happen.
I wanted to leave that with you today. I hope that in 20 years or in 30 years when my children and your children and grandchildren do this again, that you’ll see the picture of Laura, and you’ll refer kindly to Bennett and Laura. Then maybe you’ll say, “And there was also Landrieu and Cravins.” Thank you very much.