Al Tonetti, Chair
Andy Sewell, Lauren Sieg, and Mike Striker, Committee Members
Ohio Underground Damage Prevention Coalition. Subcommittees of the coalition are discussing possible changes to Ohio’s “call before you dig”/underground utilities protection law. Tonetti is representing the OAC on the exemptions, large project and scope of ticket, and training subcommittees, the latter of which he is chairing. Subcommittees will report their findings and make recommendations to the Coalition this summer.
The OAC will be offering relevant training for archaeologists (excavators) at the fall membership meeting, scheduled for October 18 at Cedar Ridge Lodge, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Galloway, OH. It has been six years since we offered the last training. The one-hour training will be conducted by our OHIO811 central Ohio liaison. Registration will be required; details forthcoming.
As of November 30, 2018, OHIO811 (formerly the Ohio Utilities Protection Service [OUPS]), and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and the Ohio Gas Producers Underground Protection Service (OGPUPS), consolidated their call before you dig processes under OHIO811. Now a single call to 811 or a visit to OHIO811.org will insure that affected member utilities as well as those members owning, operating, and maintaining oil and gas production facilities are properly notified of planned excavations.
Please remember that any penetration of the ground for any purpose, to any depth or size, with a hand- or machine-powered tool, is considered an excavation under the law. The law requires that all excavators, including archaeologists, contact OHIO811 at least 48 hours prior to beginning an excavation in order to obtain an excavation ticket. As an archaeologist, professional or avocational, it is your responsibility to obtain an excavation ticket and otherwise follow the law. Fines are being levied by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for violations.
Human Burial Places Protection Bill. At a January 29, 2019 meeting with State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), he agreed to sponsor the bill we have worked on drafting for more than two years. Before introducing the bill, Rep. Scherer wants to meet with other key stakeholders, address their concerns, and incorporate ideas that better protect human burials in unmarked human burial sites and inactive/abandoned cemeteries. He anticipates doing so this spring and possibly summer, so we envision introduction later this year. We look forward to future discussions with Rep. Scherer, other legislators, and interest groups concerned about impacts to private property rights, land development, local government, and artifact collecting, to name just a few.
We will soon again meet with Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) about the issue. He is a policy leader among his caucus and has a strong interest in this matter. He previously (2010) chaired the Commission on the Education and Preservation of State History, which led to the formation of the Cemetery Law Task Force, the latter issuing their report to the General Assembly and former Gov. Kasich in 2014. The OAC testified before these groups about the need for new legislation/law better protecting unmarked and inactive/abandoned human burial places.
This proposed bill was one of three legislative priorities discussed with state legislators on Statehood Day (February 27). Chief Glenna Wallace of Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma was the keynote speaker at the event, and she spoke about the need to enact such legislation. Tonetti spoke about the major aspects of the bill for the approximately 200 participants.
We have received positive feedback and support for this effort from the Ohio State Coroners Association, the Ohio Genealogical Society, cemetery preservation organizations, federally recognized tribes, and the professional archaeological community. Opposition is from industry groups representing farmers and land developers, private property rights groups, and the Archaeological Society of Ohio (the artifact collector community). Governor DeWine is aware of our effort and expressed interest in it. That said, less than 10% of bills introduced receive hearings, and less than 5% ever become law. A matter as complex as this requires a lot of consultation and a long-term outlook and approach to enactment.
Ohio History Fund. History Fund grants were awarded at Statehood Day. No archaeology project applications were received last year so no archaeology projects were funded. Please consider applying this year. The Fund is one of only a very few grant programs for archaeology in Ohio. Information about the Fund is here https://www.ohiohistory.org/preserve/local-history-services/history-fund.
Archaeology Guidelines Update. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) recently convened a meeting to revise its Archaeology Guidelines (1994). Tonetti attended on behalf of the OAC. SHPO is looking to make the revised guidelines more user-friendly and easily updated on their website with links to best practices and other useful documents. There was much discussion about developing adequate research designs and scopes of work, and consultation with SHPO, as key to producing acceptable field investigations and reports. New guidelines on geophysical survey, photogrammetry, tribal consultation and NAGPRA, submerged resources investigations, and integration with history/architecture guidelines were also discussed. SHPO would like to have the guidelines revised sometime yet this year.
Budget/Appropriations. On February 15, the President signed the final FY2019 (through September 30, 2019) appropriations bill. Below are the funds given to the main cultural resource accounts. The numbers in parentheses indicate the difference in funding from FY2018:
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): $435 million (up $10 million)
Battlefields Protection: $10 million (no change)
Heritage Areas: $20.3 million (no change)
National Park Service cultural programs: $25.5 million (up $.5 million)
Bureau of Land Management cultural programs: $17.1 million (no change)
United States Forest Service recreation/heritage programs: $260 million (up $2.1 million)
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: $6.8 million (up $.49 million)
National Endowment for the Humanities grants: $126 million (up $1.3 million)
Historic Preservation Fund (HPF)/State Historic Preservation Offices: $49.6 million (up $.75 million)
HPF/Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO): $11.7 million (up $.25 million)
HPF/Save America’s Treasures (competitive program for the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts): $13 million (no change)
National Science Foundation: $8 billion (up $.3 billion).
On March 11, the President proposed his budget for FY 2020. It cuts deeply into domestic programs including those that pertain to archaeology and science, especially in the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. The budget eliminates preservation grant programs and only includes $32.7 million for the HPF, $69.96 million below FY19 levels, with $26.9 million for SHPOs, $22.775 million below FY19 levels, and $5.7 million for THPOs, $6.035 million below FY19 levels. The request eliminates funding for the African American Civil Rights grant program, underrepresented communities grant program, Save America's Treasures, HBCU preservation grants, and historic revitalization significance grants. The request also eliminates funding for the Heritage Partnership Program which supports National Heritage Areas, and the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.
Presidential budgets reflect the President’s priorities, not Congresses. Presidential budgets are often “dead on arrival” in Congress, and this one is no different. Congress rejected similar cuts proposed in previous years and continues to show strong support for the HPF and other historic preservation priorities, including providing a record level of funding for the HPF in FY19. Congress and the President have until September 30 to enact legislation appropriating funds to run the Federal Government in FY 2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020) or another government shutdown may occur.
S. 47, John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. In a “huge” win for the conservation and historic preservation community, the LWCF was permanently reauthorized by Congress with the passage of this bipartisan and veto-proof bill. The bill was signed into law by the President on March 12. The LWCF, like the HPF, does not use any taxpayer dollars. It is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments. Although the LWCF is now permanently authorized, appropriating money for the LCWF is a matter Congress must address each year.
H.R. 1179, African American Burial Grounds Network Act. Introduced on February 13, 2019, the legislation would create within the National Park Service the African American Burial Grounds Network. It would:
• Create a voluntary, nationwide database of historic African-American burial grounds, with the consent of the property owner;
• Provide technical assistance to local public, private, state, and local partners to research, survey, identify, record, preserve, evaluate, and interpret these burial grounds;• Make available grants for local groups to research, survey, identify, record, and aid in the preservation of sites within the Network; and
• Establish educational materials for community members, local groups, and schools about African-American burial grounds.
Section 106 Consultation Updates:
• Judge Barker House. USACE project, Washington County. Archaeology at the NRHP-listed building has been completed without finding anything of significance. There is ongoing consultation between the USACE, SHPO, local, state, and national preservation organizations, state and federal legislators, and others concerning the relocation and transfer of ownership of the building to a local nonprofit organization. The OAC will be a concurring party on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding the property.
• Maumee River Bridge. USACE/ODOT project, Henry County. The MOA has been executed and data recovery completed at site 33HY167. The Miami Tribe is an invited signatory on the MOA; the OAC and Eastern Shawnee Tribe are concurring parties. The MOA includes a stipulation to prepare an article about the archaeological investigations for an unspecified peer-reviewed journal.
• Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam repair. USACE project, Tuscarawas County. Consultation on impacts to the Zoar Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, has resumed now that funds have been secured for the project. A Programmatic Agreement (PA) was executed in 2016. A consulting party meeting was held on October 17. The OAC could not attend but we received a report on the meeting. This spring the USACE will drill nine soil borings along the levee to determine the physical properties of the foundation material. A USACE archaeologist will be on site to examine the borings for cultural deposits and get an understanding of the stratigraphy prior to any archaeological investigations that may be needed to repair the levee.
• Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. USACE project, Summit County. Mitigation of adverse effects to 33SU679, an intact portion of the original canal towpath, have been completed. We are a concurring party on the recently executed MOA.
• Outville Road. USACE project, Licking County. Mitigation of adverse effects to 33LI2208 and 33LI2214, two Late Woodland sites. Both sites will be avoided during construction. We are a concurring party on the recently executed MOA.
• Gorge Metro Park Dam. USEPA project, Summit County (Metro Parks). Removal of Gorge Dam in Cuyahoga River. Consultation on the identification of historic properties has just begun.
James River (Jamestown, VA) Transmission Towers. On March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, issued an important decision regarding how impacts to cultural resources on federally permitted projects are assessed. The Court considered whether the USACE’s permit review process was sufficient before approving Dominion Energy’s overhead transmission line project near Jamestown’s nationally significant resources. The Court ruled that the USACE’s finding that the project would have no significant impact on the environment or cultural resources was arbitrary and capricious because of continued concerns with the appropriateness of the USACE’s research design. The decision is a reminder that federal agencies do not always follow the letter of the law, and the developer and their consultants assume risks if the project proceeds to construction while being litigated. The towers have been built. Consulting parties called the methodologies used by the applicant’s consultants in their viewshed analyses scientifically unsound and fundamentally flawed. The Court agreed. For further information see http://www.culturalheritagepartners.com/blockbuster-court-decision-has-big-implications-for-preservation/.
Wayne National Forest Plan Revision: Tonetti has participated in numerous conference calls and a few meetings and will continue to do so. The assessment of current conditions phase of the revision is to be finalized this summer, with the planning development phase and Environmental Impact Statement completion scheduled for the end of 2020.
Universal Charitable Deduction Legislation:
Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) again introduced legislation (H.R. 651, the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction Act) creating a universal charitable deduction, i.e., available to all taxpayers. In addition, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, recently introduced H.R. 1260 to amend the IRS Code for the same purpose. The Republican’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is expected to result in a significant decline in charitable donations, significantly favoring wealthy taxpayers over all others. Charitable giving is expected to decline by approximately $20 billion in 2018 because of the increase to the standard deduction. The amount of charitable contributions would not be capped under the bills. They would make charitable deductions universal and above-the-line, meaning that all taxpayers can deduct charitable donations from their taxes whether they itemize or not.