Society for American Archaeology
April 28, 2015
Dear SAA member,
Last year a provision was added to the House version of the annual defense authorization bill (NDAA) that would have amended the National Historic Preservation Act to allow any federal land-managing agency to remove National Register-listed properties under its control from the Register, for reasons of national security. It would also have given agencies the ability to effectively veto the future listing of any other property located on federal land that was proposed for the Register.
The adverse consequences of such a change to the NHPA would be enormous. This is especially true given the fact that a listing on the National Register does not preclude federal agencies from upgrading, adding to, or even demolishing historic structures for any reason, including national security.
The Department of Defense, the National Park Service, and the ACHP all testified in strong opposition to the provision. In addition, a coalition of preservation organizations-including the SAA-worked to prevent the language from becoming law. In the end, we were successful.
As they say, however, no idea sticks around quite like a bad idea, and we’ve learned that this terrible legislation will once again be offered as an amendment to this year’s NDAA. The House Armed Services Committee will be considering the issue tomorrow.
Though it’s short notice, you can help by contacting your representative immediately, particularly those on the House Armed Services Committee (http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/members) — to voice your opposition to the provision. Ask them to oppose including in the NDAA this bad amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act, on the grounds that a) it would harm historic properties on federal lands by causing their de-listing from the Register and prevent new listings; b) it is totally unnecessary–there is not a single example of the Defense Department being stopped from maintaining or repairing any building, or from conducting any training exercise, because of the National Historic Preservation Act’s requirements; and c) the Defense Department, the National Park Service, and the ACHP all opposed the provision the last time it came up.
If you don’t know who your Representative is, you can go to http://www.house.gov/ to get that information.
Thanks very much for your help!