I'm sure there are some people who are jaded about seeing their organization on the evening news, but I am not one of them. It might be a little geeky to admit, but I always get excited that that people all over the country are getting to hear about the good work that happens here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Last night, though, I missed the story about our 11 Most Endangered list due to the NHL playoffs (the Washington Capitals advanced to the next round -- yippee!), but due to the wonders of the internet, I was able to catch the story when I got home from the game. In case you were also at the playoffs -- or doing something else that prevented you from watching the NBC Nightly News, here's the clip:
Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.
Posted on:April 28th, 2009byNational Trust for Historic Preservation4 Comments
There are certain things that pretty much everyone who works here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation has on their calendar: the National Preservation Conference, Preservation Month, and, of course, today’s biggie, the announcement of our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Diane Keaton, an Academy Award-winning actress and one of our trustees, will be presenting the list in Los Angeles in a few hours, so it feels almost like we’re giving a sneak-peek here on the East Coast.
Their official designation of 2009’s sites will be made adjacent to Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel, which is included on this year’s list. Slated to be razed to accommodate two 600-foot-tall “environmentally sensitive” towers, the threat to the Century Plaza highlights sustainability -- the idea that we need to recycle existing infrastructure, rather than throw it away. The hotel, designed by Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center’s twin towers), also exemplifies the threat to modernist architecture nationally.
The full list of sites, with a tidbit of information on each, is below (after the jump, if you’re coming from the blog’s home page or an RSS reader). I encourage you to skip that, though, and instead head right over to the 11 Most Endangered section of PreservationNation.org. It’s where we’re keeping the good stuff: pictures, video and action items. Take a moment to check it out.
Oh, and if you happen to be a fan of Twitter, today's a great day to start following us. We're @PresNation and we're going to be tweeting about the 11 Most all day. Look for the #11Most tag to find out the latest.
Posted on:April 20th, 2009byNational Trust for Historic Preservation
Written by Elaine Stiles
Entrance to Minidoka, 1944.
The Minidoka National Historic Site (NHS) in Jerome County, Idaho is a place with a hard past, and for the past few years, a pretty challenging present, too. Now a National Park unit, Minidoka was one of ten relocation centers for persons of Japanese descent during World War II. The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Minidoka NHS as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2007 because of threats posed to the site by construction of a 13,000 head factory dairy farm less than a mile away. The farm has the potential to ruin the visitor experience at Minidoka, flooding it with foul odors, dust, and pests. After a long local permitting process and subsequent lawsuit, the county granted the permit to construct the farm, though no building has begun. Late last year, the National Trust, a consortium of advocates for the historic site, and local property owners filed a lawsuit to stop construction of the farming operation on procedural and constitutional grounds.
Now the Minidoka NHS faces a new potential threat. A portion of a planned 500-mile, 500 kilovolt electric transmission line between Idaho and Nevada is proposed to traverse or run less than one quarter of a mile away from the NHS. Conceived of more than 20 years ago, the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) was granted a right-of-way through what is now the Minidoka NHS by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. (The BLM managed the land that is now the NHS before the designation.) The independent power company pursuing the SWIP is also considering alternatives to the existing right-of-way, some of which would place the power line a short distance outside the main entrance of the NHS. These massive power lines would greatly impact the integrity of the historic site and potentially affect interpretive planning.
The Minidoka NHS is a fledgling National Park unit. The site is still awaiting funding to realize the interpretive plans the Park Service and its partners, including former internees and their families, crafted after its designation in 2001. Minidoka has much to teach us about the story of Japanese Americans in our country, the American homefront during World War II, and perhaps most importantly, the history of civil liberties and human rights in the U.S. Recently, Congress recognized this importance by authorizing the Park Service to expand the bounds of the NHS to include adjacent resources and partially funding a national grant program to interpret, protect, and restore Japanese American confinement sites nationwide. Much work remains to be done, however, to protect Minidoka and its story against the ill effects of industrial agriculture and our ever-growing energy needs.
Posted on:April 16th, 2009byNational Trust for Historic Preservation
Written by Nell Ziehl
Aerial view of Blair Mountain Battlefield in West Virginia.
Earlier this month, preservation advocates were thrilled that the National Park Service listed Blair Mountain (Logan County, West Virginia) -- the site of a massive 1921 coal miners' insurrection and the largest armed conflict on U.S. soil since the Civil War -- in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register designation has taken decades, due to opposition by coal companies who wish to strip-mine the mountain and destroy the site. This ongoing struggle led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to include Blair Mountain on our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2006.
The thrill wore off quickly, however. Less than a week after the National Park Service made its determination, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin’s administration requested that the site be de-listed.
We -- and our local partners -- remain committed to saving Blair Mountain Battlefield. We ask that concerned citizens help us take action by signing our online petition. With the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, we are also preparing a letter to be signed by scholars and historians, asking for Governor Manchin's help in preserving this important chapter of American history. If you are a scholar or historian who would like to be included in that effort, please email us at sfo [at] nthp [dot] org. (Replace the words in brackets with the customary symbols.)
In a ceremony held yesterday in the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama officially signed the Public Lands Management Act of 2009.
Among the many important wins for preservation included in the final legislation's 1,300 pages and 160 provisions is the National Landscape Conservation System Act. Two and a half years in the making, this bill creates the first major system of U.S. public lands in nearly half a century. Named the National Landscape Conservation System, it is comprised of the best lands, waterways and cultural resources managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
"Attending the bill signing for the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 was the fulfillment of a dream that began in 2000 to create the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System," National Trust for Historic Preservation Public Lands Policy Program Manager Denise Ryan said. "It is hard to describe my joy and relief at finally passing the bill after several years of hard work. Sitting in the beautiful and historic East Room of the White House while President Obama signed the bill, surrounded by the bill’s congressional champions, was marvelous."
For special coverage of the big day, check out the photos taken by Denise above, as well as the following excerpts from the inspiring remarks made during the signing ceremony.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's Remarks
Over the last two centuries, America’s best ideas for protecting our vast lands and open spaces have often arrived while our country has faced its greatest trials.
It was in the midst of our nation’s bloodiest conflict – the Civil War – that President Abraham Lincoln set aside the lands that are now Yosemite National Park.
It was at the dawn of the 20th century, with our cities and industries growing and our open lands and watersheds disappearing, that President Teddy Roosevelt expanded our national parks and set aside the world’s largest system of lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, the national wildlife refuge system.
And it was in the darkest days of the Great Depression that President Franklin Roosevelt put three million young Americans to work in the Civilian Conservation Corps. They built the trails, campgrounds, parks and conservation projects we enjoy today.
In these moments when our national character is most tested we rightly seek to protect that which fuels our spirit.
For America’s national character - our optimism, our dreams, our shared stories – are rooted in our landscapes.
We each have places we love. For me, it is the San Luis Valley in Colorado. It is the lands my family has farmed for five generations. The waters of the San Antonio River. The snows on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
As Americans, we are defined most by our people and our places.
As Americans, we possess few blessings greater than the vast and varied landscapes that stretch the breadth of our continent. Our lands have always provided great bounty – food and shelter for the first Americans, for settlers and pioneers; the raw materials that grew our industry; the energy that powers our economy.
What these gifts require in return is our wise and responsible stewardship. As our greatest conservationist President, Teddy Roosevelt, put it almost a century ago, "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
That's the spirit behind the bipartisan legislation I'm signing today – legislation among the most important in decades to protect, preserve and pass down our nation’s most treasured landscapes to future generations.
Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.
The PreservationNation blog features stories, news, and notes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as the wider preservation movement. Have a great story to share? Email us! And visit PreservationNation.org to learn more about people saving places.
While the writers of the PreservationNation blog are on staff at the National Trust for Historic Preservation or affiliated organizations, their posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.