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House members call for more resources for historic preservation

The bell and the cross atop it at the Pueblo of Zuni Tribe in New Mexico
Courtesy of the Pueblo of Zuni Tribe
U.S. Interior Department
The Pueblo of Zuni Tribe in New Mexico has received federal funding in the past to help preserve its historic structures, including an old mission.

News brief:

Several Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives recently held a hearing to advocate for more resources to preserve important historic sites like burial grounds and buildings. The hearing comes after major federal funding for these programs expired this fall.

Preserving the nation’s cultural resources is more important than ever, according to experts who testified. That’s especially true for Tribal communities and other marginalized groups that have struggled to gain funding and recognition for their important places in the past. Yet many historical sites are under increased threat due to development and climate change.

“If we continue to under-resource the federal government's response, we will lose more irreplaceable places forever,” said Sara Bronin, chair of the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. “I ask for you to expand federal support for research on climate change and historic and cultural resources. We must identify the best materials, methods and structures to adapt these resources to fire. flood and other threats.”

Important federal grant money for state, local and tribal preservation offices has yet to be renewed. A bill introduced this year in Congress would reauthorize and increase that funding from $150 million to $250 million.

Proponents say this money is needed to keep up with inflation and increase staffing to help with preservation processes.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is a contributing journalist and former reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.

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