Change Starts Here: Preservation Priorities for President Obama

The parade is over and the balls are history: Barack Obama is officially the 44th President of the United States.

Just as it has with administrations from both parties for many years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is eager to work with the Obama Administration on policies that protect and enhance our country’s irreplaceable historic resources, but we can’t do it without you.

From Main Street to your street, President Obama can provide leadership for strong and effective federal stewardship of our heritage that builds livable, sustainable and economically-viable communities while preserving our history for future generations.

As we continue to work with the new administration, we want to hear from you. Tell us which of the following action items have the biggest effects in your community, and then post comments with your own unique preservation stories and ideas.

Preservation and the Economy

Main Streets across the country – both urban commercial centers and rural downtowns – are struggling. President Obama should propose preservation-based economic development incentives, such as expanding the historic rehabilitation tax credit that created 40,000 new jobs last year and has, to date, leveraged over $45 billion in private investment and returned over 34,800 buildings to productive reuse.

Historic Preservation and Sustainability

As opposed to new construction, preservation responsibly conserves the built environment, which is an effective tool for reducing carbon emissions, combating climate change, and saving money on energy bills. President Obama should support measures that provide strong incentives to reuse and retrofit existing homes and buildings, recycle materials, increase building efficiency and maximize inherent environmental benefits.

Historic Preservation and Natural Disaster Relief and Preparedness

Devastating natural disasters have damaged historic structures and communities in the Gulf Coast and the Midwest. Because natural disasters have an immediate and widespread effect on historic properties, President Obama should develop a preparedness plan including a proactive, comprehensive survey of disaster-prone historic resources as well as addressing urgent response and recovery.

Historic Preservation and Transportation Policies

Transportation and preservation share a common goal to create better lives for Americans. As Congress prepares to reauthorize our nation's transportation programs, President Obama should continue to fund transportation enhancements and propose policies that support preservation-based approaches to strengthening our nation's transportation resources, such as the reuse of existing infrastructure in older and historic communities.

Historic Preservation and Public Land

A variety of threats, including insufficient historic and archeological survey information, expose millions of acres of public land to vandalism, destruction and neglect. President Obama should provide agency-wide leadership to responsibly manage historic and cultural resources on public lands.

Historic Preservation and Federal Stewardship

The federal government funds the national historic preservation program and provides critical leadership among its agencies to care for historic resources. President Obama should propose full funding to protect our heritage, and ensure that preservation reviews take place in the earliest phases of project development, not as an afterthought.


This story is closed to new comments.

Submitted by Anonymous at: November 5, 2008
Recycling of existing structures create jobs, save natural resouces, energy, and invite our population to be proud of our history. Jean

Submitted by Renee at: November 5, 2008
"federal support", "fund in perpetuity", "restore and increase funding", "funding to support high level staff", "all of them should be priorities"....what planet are you all living on? Do you not understand that the United States is in a major fiscal crisis due to overspending? You need to work on private funding and stop looking to bankrupt the government with your issues. Barack Obama is going to have many issues to face and I'm fairly certain your list is going to be the least of his concerns. You should just cut the poor guy a break and get going on your own and stop looking to Uncle Sam for your answer.

Submitted by Tracie at: November 5, 2008
President Obama needs to make a priority of preservation regarding historical sites and areas, especially those involving Native American history,

Submitted by Ree at: November 5, 2008
With tax credits and employment opportunities, historic preservation is a natural fit for the economy. And it should be a law that in the planning process, preservation reviews are the FIRST part of a project.

Submitted by Jim at: November 5, 2008
I am rehabilitating 100+ year old buildings and want to add solar panels to generate power. I would like to take tax credits on the solar panels for alternative energy AND for historical rehabilitation as well. Doesn't hurt to ask.

Submitted by Helen at: November 5, 2008
Our "Main Streets" are dying because of the cost of road improvement projects that will re-route state highways currently bisecting our downtowns. Make federal support for state and local transportation projects that will benefit preservation efforts in our downtowns a top priority!

Submitted by Lab Rat at: November 5, 2008
Congress needs to fund in perpetuity a special Historic Preservation Fund program for conservation and curation of archaeological materials, artifacts, built structures, and related restources that are managed by fedral agencies and the land managers must set the highest priority to the long term care and expand public access for educational use of said resources.

Submitted by Left Coast Geezer at: November 5, 2008
Congress needs to restore and increase funding to the Department of Defense Legacy Program to properly manage, maintain, and restore historical and Native American resources on lands under their management. The National Trust, Keeper of the Register, and Advisory Council should have seats on the board that decides which branch of the Armed Forces and which post, base, facility or other activity receives Legacy Program funding and there needs to be an oversight office who submits annual reports on the success and status of said funding.

Submitted by arabellawombat at: November 5, 2008
25 year resident of an 1851 multi-use building in a Main Street historic district

Submitted by Bones at: November 5, 2008
The Obama Administration must restructure the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to place the highest priority to Section 110 inventory, condition assessment, and restoration of built and archaeological resources on federal properties or properties affected by federal undertakings. This should be elevated to equal the functional mission of said federal agency, not be subordinated to military or mining, or logging, or other destructive programs.

Submitted by Susan at: November 5, 2008
It is absolutely imperative that State Historic Preservation Offices receive adequate funding to support high level staff to service tax programs and as well as funding to maintain historic sites, which promotes tourism and creates jobs.

Submitted by The Old Mariner at: November 5, 2008
President Elect Barak Obama promised to appoint a cabinet level minister to reorganize and reshape and rename the Bureeau of Indian Affairs. That cabinet member must also oversee the in perpetuity preservation of Native America archaeological sites and Traditional Cultural Properties on private land that have been preserved through federal, state and local governments to mitigate the adverse effects of undertakings and permitted projects. This should be in coordination with all stakeholders, not just Native American people.

Submitted by History Detective at: November 5, 2008
President Elect Barak Obama needs to appoint a new Keeper of the Register who places the highest priority to protecting American heritage and is capable of remaining arms-length from lobbyists and financial special interests whose only goal is to destroy our rich American heritage to increase their bottomline.

Submitted by Sr. Don Ron at: November 5, 2008
There needs to be a federal income tax incentive to encourage private property owners to protect historic and preshistoric archaeological sites and non-commercial residences. The problem with existing tax incentives is they are only for commercial properties and nothing is said about protecting associated archaeology in the gardens, fields, and surrouding lots. This federal tax incentive should be in the form of a contract through Certified Local Governments that are good for a period of 25-years that rolls over automatically each year. The actual value should be fair market value by the square foot and said value should be deducted against individual income tax.

Submitted by Steamboatin' David at: November 5, 2008
My top prioritiy because it is in great peril right now is the Steamboat Delta Queen. She needs an exemption from the missapplied Safety at Sea Law to allow her to continue to operate and keep her intact and operating. Obama has stated he will support saving her, now we all need to get behind this and get the legislation passed--no money, just permission to run!

Submitted by artlover at: November 5, 2008
I think that the preservation of public land and archeological sites should take priority over everything else. A previous contributor to this blog [Artie], mentioned a "Historic Art Train that travels across the country". I've never heard of it. Would love to have more details. If such a thing exists, and it's good, I agree that it should be preserved along with historic main streets, homes, buildings and theaters.

Submitted by JF at: November 5, 2008
We need to save our Civil War battlefields! They are too important to our national identity to lose!

Submitted by Fann at: November 5, 2008
In Unity there is Strength. All six issues are important. Adding to Lila's comment of Nov. 5, 2008, which recommends assessment of conservation issues and planning for the future with priorities, there needs to be an umbrella type structure that can coordinate the actions of the dozens of conservation groups on common issues so maximum results can be achieved through the strength of numbers.

Submitted by yagottaluvit at: November 5, 2008
I think that historic preservation and sustainability should be a top priority. I've seen too many beautiful older homes and buildings come down in my 65 year lifetime. Owners of these properties need incentives to restore, sustain and to make them GREEN. Owners of 100 year old structures should get rebates for green restoration projects, tankless water heaters, and the addition of solar panels. Also, tax incentives to buy, keep and maintain older properties within a distinct set of guidelines.

Submitted by margo at: November 5, 2008
All of these are important and every effort shoud be made to encourage private/public partnerships to accomplish these goals.

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