The U.S. Virgin Islands is getting $371,000 in historic and cultural preservation grants funded by offshore drilling funds, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced this week. The money is a share of $26.9 million in historic preservation grants to every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and partnering nations, plus $5.7 million in grants to more than 160 tribes for cultural and heritage preservation projects on their tribal lands, or $32.6 million in all.
“Fees collected from drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf help fund important conservation tools like these grants,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
“The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service are committed to preserving U.S. and tribal history and heritage. Through valuable partnerships we are able to assist communities and tribes in ensuring the diverse historic places, culture and traditions that make our country unique are protected for future generations,” he said.
Administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the Secretary, these funds are a part of annual appropriations from the Historic Preservation Fund Since its inception in 1977, the HPF has provided more than $1.2 billion in historic preservation grants to states, tribes, local governments and nonprofit organizations. Funding is supported by Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, not tax dollars, with intent to mitigate the loss of a non-renewable resource to benefit the preservation of other irreplaceable resources.
This year’s HPF grant funds were appropriated under the Continuing Resolution Act, 2017, enacted as Public Law 114-254. All funding to the states and District of Columbia requires a 40 percent non-federal match, which leverages state, local and private dollars to do even more with the federal HPF investment. The HPF grants fund preservation programs at state historic preservation offices and ensure support of local preservation with a required 10 percent pass through to Certified Local Governments via competitive sub-grants.
The HPF is also an essential funding stream for tribes to preserve their unique cultural and heritage resources through a broad range of activities, including identifying places of cultural significance for planning and protection purposes, public education and training, and leading tribal preservation initiatives.
Examples of the diversity of work accomplished with this annual funding include:
Students from Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College in in Michigan will assist conducting oral interviews with elders on tribal traditions and everyday life in a project that also includes an outreach and education exhibit.
A statewide study on Japanese-American settlement coordinated by the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Wisconsin conducted underwater survey evaluations of shipwrecks in Lake Michigan, preparing site plans, and National Register of Historic Places nominations for the S.C. Baldwin and three newly discovered vessels.
Washington’s State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s consultation with the U.S. Department of Energy and Native American Tribes on culturally-sensitive Columbia River shoreline with known tribal archaeological resources, historic properties illustrative of post-contact settlement, and Manhattan Project era resources.
In Texas, a youth summit held in conjunction with the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and a series of workshops on historic metal truss bridges in cooperation with the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation.