Preservation Action: Historic Preservation Fund Part III

The latest installment in the Q & A series from Preservation Action regarding the federal Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) answers the following:

How much money is deposited annually into the HPF?

At its inception 24.4 million was authorized for FY 1977 with 100 million annually in 1978 and 1979. From FY 1980 onward, the fund has received annual deposits of $150 million. The authorized funds deposited into the HPF are, however, subject to the appropriation process. Unexpended funds are to remain in the HPF until appropriated.

Bonus question: How was that amount ($150 million) determined?

The answer comes to us compliments of Loretta Neumann and Nellie Longsworth. Neumann, long time staff person to Rep. John F. Seiberling (D-OH), was with the National Park Service prior to joining Seiberling’s staff. Longsworth, a founder and first President of Preservation Action, was President of Preservation Action for 22 years and continues as an honorary member of its Board of Directors.

The HPF was added as an amendment to House legislation that Rep. Seiberling introduced in 1974 to triple the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) from $300 million per year to $900 million per year. The LWCF funds federal and state outdoor recreation and land acquisition programs with revenues derived from federal receipts from Outer Continental Shelf oil leasing. During the markup, Rep. Seiberling was asked if he were willing to have the HPF added to it, plus a few other provisions. He agreed to the suggestion.

As a staff person to Rep. Seiberling, Neumann drafted the House of Representatives bill that would amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Longsworth (who was lobbying for passage of the bill on behalf of Preservation Action) and Neumann recently recalled a meeting with a staff member from Legislative Counsel who was reviewing Seiberling’s bill. The House of Representatives Office of Legislative Counsel provides confidential and impartial drafting services and advice for House Members and House Committees.

The Legislative Counsel staff person threw out a number and said, “Let’s say $150 million.” Neumann and Longsworth enthusiastically replied, “Terrific!” They never imagined that this seemingly enormous amount (at the time) would remain intact as the amount deposited still today.

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