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 [graphic] Manual For State Historic Preservation Review Boards

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

Part 11: Public Participation and Awareness

Public participation and awareness in historic preservation help form a statewide constituency that strengthens the effectiveness and visibility of historic preservation and the State program. States are responsible for carrying out a public participation process that ensures an opportunity for public involvement in various areas of the state historic preservation program. In order to ensure public benefit from and accessibility to the national historic preservation programs, the State office has a responsibility to seek public participation in the following major areas:

1. Formulation of the State office's annual work plan and the HPF annual grant application;

2. Open subgrant project selection process;

3. Process for nominating historic properties to the National Register;

4. Development, implementation, and revision of the statewide historic preservation plan; and

5. Development and revision of historic context documents.

The State's "preservation public" is not a single group or organization whose members share common interests and concerns and speak with one voice. The public is comprised of diverse groups with varying, often competing, interests and responsibilities, and can include, in addition to preservation professionals who have expertise in resource preservation, other professionals, such as environmentalists, planners, and tourism officials, who may share common goals; elected and appointed officials at the federal, state, and local levels whose actions might affect historic properties; historic property owners and others who may be affected by historic preservation actions; American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other ethnic groups who place traditional cultural value on historic properties; minority groups and the disabled; and others who play key roles in shaping public opinion.

By informing these groups of the advantages of preservation and showing them successful preservation examples in their areas of interest, new allies of historic preservation can be gained. The participation, involvement, and contributions of these groups can not only generate support for preservation goals, but can also help protect valued historic resources. Forming alliances with other groups is an important strategy for achieving preservation goals that might not be possible by one group alone.

One particularly important group that should be continuously educated about preservation is local, State, and national legislators. When convinced of the popularity, efficiency, and economic value of preservation, and when shown how historic preservation can help achieve their favorite goals, elected officials can be among historic preservation's most important allies.

Working with educators to develop Kindergarten through Grade 12 curricula and technical education programs for adults is an important effort that can fulfill the growing demand among both public and professional groups for learning about historic preservation and the history and prehistory of the state and its communities.

The media are important in publicizing preservation. Notifications of National Register listings, survey grants, and acquisition and development grants present opportunities to explain the State historic preservation program and its accomplishments to the general public. In addition, press releases and feature stories on historic preservation successes (and even preservation's losses) that appear regularly in the print and broadcast media are important in generating awareness and support for historic preservation.

The State Review Board, not only as a group but also each member individually, can contribute in significant ways toward helping the State office meet its public participation responsibilities and stay informed of public opinion on historic preservation. Because of their network of contacts, Review Board members are well equipped to spread the historic preservation message and influence decision-making. For example, Board members can effectively serve preservation's interests by being aware of and commenting on all Federal, State, and local legislation that could have an impact on how preservation is performed and financed. Suggesting new legislation when it is needed is also appropriate.

During the National Register nomination process the State Review Board has a significant impact on public participation and awareness. In hearing and considering the views of property owners and public officials regarding National Register nominations, the Review Board has a highly visible role.

Review Board members who are well versed in the fundamental values of preservation can share their expertise with the growing preservation public by participating in conferences, meetings, and workshops. Such members' participation is significant. Review Board members' contacts with reporters and editors can refine the media's sensitivity to preservation and produce articles on preservation. Special interest stories and feature articles on preservation are important.

Review Board members are uniquely positioned to gauge what the State preservation program's image is among the general public. The Review Board can serve as a sponsor or host for public meetings held to solicit public opinion. The Review Board can create ad hoc committees or task forces to examine critical historic preservation issues for the State office. Whether during routine or specially organized meetings and activities, the Review Board can gather information on such issues as such as: the extent to which the preservation message is getting across to concerned government officials and citizens; the strengths and weaknesses of the State preservation program; and whether the program is reaching all populations groups and geographical areas within the State. With this information, the State office can focus public awareness programs on specific groups and topics. Review Board members can also increase public awareness by promoting and participating in activities such an National Historic Preservation Week, sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and State-sponsored Archaeology Week or Month and other high visibility historic preservation celebrations. They can assist in identifying contacts in professional organizations, educational institutions, and media and other allied organizations to ensure that the State reaches the widest possible audience for ideas, opinions, suggestions, and involvement in the State historic preservation program.

By periodically looking at such issues, Review Board members with their independent perspectives can determine the effectiveness of a State program in reaching the broadest possible constituency.

Suggested Reading

Cogan, Arnold, Sumner Sharpe, and Joe Hertzeberg. "Citizen Participation." Chapter 12, The Practice of State and Regional Planning, edited by Frank S. So, Irving Hand, and Bruce D. McDowell. Chicago: APA Planners Press, 1986. (Available from the American Planning Association, 122 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600, Chicago, Illinois 60603; telephone 312-431-9100; or visit the American Planning Association's Web site at http://www.planning.org)

Creighton, James L. Involving Citizens in Community Decision Making: A Guidebook. Washington, D.C.: Program for Community Problem Solving, 1992. (Available from Program for Community Problem Solving, 915 15th Street, NW, Suite 601, Washington, D.C. 20005; telephone 202-783-2961.)

Lawson, Barry R., Ellen P. Ryan and Rebecca Bartlett Hutchison. Reaching Out, Reaching In: A Guide to Creating Effective Public Participation for State Historic Preservation Programs. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., 1993. (Available free upon request from Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, NW, Room NC330, Washington, D.C. 20240; or via e-mail at hps-info@nps.gov.)

National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Successful State Advocacy." Information Series No. 52. Washington D.C.: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1991. (Available from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone 202-588-6296.)

 

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