The Honorable Betty McCollum keynoted at AAF’s 2015 Oculus Award . Developed to highlight organizations whose preservation initiatives promote vibrant, sustainable communities, The Oculus Award was presented at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC to Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc .
A vocal supporter of historic preservation and strong communities, Rep. McCollum underscored the critical role Congress and the Obama Administration play in protecting our nation’s cultural heritage.
She stated, “It is absolutely clear that without leadership from Congress and the Obama Administration our nation’s most vulnerable treasures are at risk of being lost to time, decay, or neglect. And AAF is working with me to get Congress re-engaged as a partner in protecting and restoring our country’s historic treasures, treasures that unite communities and connect the past to the future.”
Rep. McCollum is the lead Democrat on the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, the subcommittee responsible for funding America’s federal land, national parks, tribal nations, and historic sites.
Congress, however, she explained, is drastically under-funding historic preservation. She said, “[From 1999 to 2010], Congress provided modest, but critical funding for a program called Save America’s Treasures. $318 million in federal funding was appropriated for SAT grants over twelve years – that is less than $1 per American for a decade of investments. Those grants required a dollar-for-dollar match which leveraged over $400 million in additional funds.”
But, since 2011, Congress has not provided a single dollar to Save America’s Treasures.
Rep. McCollum unveiled her partnership with AAF and the other federal partners to restore federal funding for the Save America’s Treasures program. This partnership will bring historic preservation back into the focus of Congress and ensure unique structures and collections that exemplify our history are preserved for future generations.
Ending the speech with a call to action, Rep. McCollum encouraged attendees to advocate for the program: “As citizens who care about historic preservation, now is the time to get organized and energized. Working together, we need to get Congress investing once again in Saving America’s Treasures.”
Contact your local Congressperson  to ensure that America’s treasures are preserved for future generations. With your help, we can get historic preservation funded again.
Photos courtesy of Jocelyn Augustino.