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Statewide Historic
Preservation Planning

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Requirements for
Planning?  »

Requirements for
Plan Revision? »

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How Much Public
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Successful Citizen
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Frequently asked questions for shpos
on statewide historic preservation planning


What are the Requirements for Statewide Historic Preservation Planning?

The requirements for states to prepare and implement a statewide historic preservation planning are found in:

  • National Historic Preservation Act, §101(b)(3)(C):

  • It shall be the responsibility of the State Historic Preservation Officer to administer the State Historic Preservation Program and to...prepare and implement a comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan;

  • Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 61.4(b)(1):

  • It is the responsibility of the SHPO to carry out the duties and activities that section 101(b)(3) of the Act describes. In performing those duties and activities: The SHPO must carry out a historic preservation planning process that includes the development and implementation of a comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan that provides guidance for effective decision making about historic property preservation throughout the State.

  • Historic Preservation Fund Grants Manual, Chapter 6, Section G.

  • The entire Grants Manual is on-line, but it is a very large file, so just the section on Statewide Historic Preservation Planning is provided here.

What are the Requirements for Revising Our Statewide Historic Preservation Plan?

The requirements that guided the development of your current State Plan, and which served as the basis for the approval of your Plan, serve the same purposes for revising that Plan. In other words, State Plan revision activities and the revised State Plan must meet the program requirements found in Chapter 6, Section G of the HPF Grants Manual.

NPS Role in State Plan Revision.   When the State Plan approved under these requirements is revised at the end of its planning cycle, NPS views this revised State Plan as a new document that must meet the Planning Program requirements and be approved by NPS (see Chapter 6, Section G.2.d. of the HPF Grants Manual). NPS procedures for reviewing and approving final draft revised State Plans are the same as those used for reviewing and approving your current State Plan.

An approved revised State Plan must be in place at the end of the original Plan’s planning cycle, or at a minimum, prior to the SHPO’s submission of the HPF Annual Grant application for the fiscal year following the expiration of the planning cycle. The HPF Annual Grant application and the End-of-Year Report must cross-reference an approved State Plan (see Chapter 7, Section C.1.h., on the annual application narrative, and Chapter 25, Exhibit 25-B, on the Project/Activity Database).

If a State Plan’s planning cycle ends without an approved revised State Plan, the consequences will be the same as if the revised State Plan was denied approval. States without approved State Plans must submit additional documents in the grant application and End-of-Year Report submissions (Chapter 7, Section C.1.j. & k. and Chapter 25 Section D.6).

NPS Interpretation of Submission Dates.  An approved revised State Plan must be in place no later than December 31 of the last calendar year of the stated planning cycle. This will ensure that the HPF Annual Grant Application for the Fiscal Year ending the following September 30 will cross-reference an approved revised State Plan. For example, if the last year of a planning cycle is 2011, then the revised Plan must be approved by December 31, 2011.

This means that final draft revised Plans will need to be submitted to the Preservation Planning Program, NPS for review and approval no later than November 15 of the last calendar year of the stated planning cycle (2011 in the example above). This will allow NPS reviews to be completed in a timely manner. However, it would be advisable to submit draft revised Plans sooner than that.

What Role do the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines Play in Statewide Historic Preservation Planning?

The Secretary's Standards and Guidelines for Preservation Planning continue to play a key role in historic preservation planning at all levels. Click on the following topics for detailed answers to this question:

What Does "Statewide" Mean?

A statewide historic preservation plan is one that:

  • Addresses all types of historic and cultural resources across the state;

  • Is resource-based, focusing on the resources, instead of on organizational action (in other words, it is not an internal office management plan for the SHPO); and

  • Serves as a guide for planning and decision-making by all who affect the resources, including the SHPO.

This can be a tricky concept to put into practice because we all tend to think of things in the context of ourselves. For example, it's easier to write the Plan from the perspective of the SHPO office — the office "partners with," "works with," "collaborates with," "supports," and "assists" others. It's also easy to use the first person pronoun — "we" and "our" — but this can be ambiguous. It isn't clear if these terms refer to the SHPO or to "we preservationists," or even to "we, our state's citizens." The latter usage can be a very effective technique in affirming a collective voice for the Plan.

The statewide plan is supposed to serve as a guide for the planning and decision-making of all who do preservation in the state, not only the SHPO office (see Chapter 6, Section G.2.b. fo the HPF Grants Manual). It is important, therefore, to broaden the focus of the Plan beyond the SHPO office to embrace a range of agencies and organizations so they can more effectively consider the Plan, and use it, as a relevant guide for their actions and planning. This broadened focus is particularly important in the goals and objectives section (see Step 6 in the Typical Planning Process, below).

If you are interested in guidance on organizational planning, you may find it useful to take a look at Taking Command of Change: A Practical Guide for Applying the Strategic Development Process in State Historic Preservation Offices, by Douglas C. Eadie. This booklet is based on Mr. Eadie's work with six SHPO offices, and is available on-line.

How Much Public Participation is Enough?

Several of you have asked if there are a specific number of public participation events that would meet the public participation requirement in revising the statewide historic preservation plan. The following guidance may be useful as you begin thinking about strategies for revising your State Plan.

Specific types or numbers of public participation activities are not required. Public participation must, however, include the “active involvement of a wide range of public, private, and professional organizations” [Chapter 6, Section G.2.b.2) of the HPF Grants Manual].

This requirement also means reaching out beyond the usual preservation constituency. The more opportunities available to the public, your colleagues, your stakeholders, and those who affect the resources, the greater their support will be for the Plan.

Nevertheless, it can be a challenge to reach out to and hear from a broad range of public and professional stakeholders, and to include more than the usual preservation constituency.

Public opinion questionnaires are often used in conjunction with other techniques, such as public meetings/workshops and focus groups, and, more recently, blogs and webinars. For guidance on various public participation techniques, click on Public Participation.

Limited budgets and travel restrictions obviously make it really hard to carry out public participation activities designed specifically for planning. Consider a combination of strategies, such as the following:

  • “Piggy-back” planning-related discussions at events that are already scheduled. Try to find both preservation and non-preservation events. For example, regular meetings held by the professional archaeology, history, planning, environmental, and other organizations would be likely venues, especially if your staff will already be attending.
  • It can also be helpful to enlist support and involvement by some of your partner organizations who might be willing to host meetings in their communities or discussion sessions at other gatherings. You or your staff could attend either in person or via video link or conference call. For example, the State Review Board, the statewide non-profit preservation organization, other statewide organizations, or particular local organizations with similar missions might be able to help out.
  • Community leadership interviews can be very effective. This technique was developed by the North Carolina SHPO for its planning effort. They asked each of their CLG preservation commission members to interview their community's leaders about preservation issues. This approach not only generated useful information for the state plan revision, but it also raised the preservation awareness of local leaders and established or strengthened local preservation networks. The interview questions were:
    1. What are the strengths of your community?

    2. What are the weaknesses of your community?

    3. If money and "power" were no object, what would you do to improve your community?

    4. What would it take to accomplish this?

    5. Do you see a place for historic preservation in your community? (Note: You might want to rephrase this to get a narrative response, rather than a "yes" or "no" response, such as, "Waht is the place of historic preservation in your community?" or, "How can preservation help improve the community?")

    6. What do you feel is the role of the local historic preservation commission in improving your community?

    7. What role do you see for the State Historic Preservation Office in your community?

You may want to rephrase these questions or ask different ones to tailor the interviews to your state, and to make sure the interviews discuss the full range of historic and cultural resources in the community, not just one type of resource, such as historic buildings. The North Carolina SHPO also distributed a public opinion questionnaire with a different set of questions.

  • Take advantage of communications technologies that may be available to you, such as video-conferencing, web sites, webinars, blogs, etc. These may be particularly helpful in meeting with smaller groups or specific organizations.

What Are Some Tips for Successful Public Opinion Surveys?

The following information is a compilation of materials handed out and notes taken from a presentation given by Michael Blue, AICP, Senior Associate with Camiros, Ltd., Chicago, Illinois, at the American Planning Association National Conference, Washington, D.C., May 12, 1992. This guidance is still relevant if your use Internet survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey.

Have a purpose for the survey. Don’t do a survey just because it sounds like a good idea.

Surveys are expensive. The printing, postage, and personnel costs add up fast. Current technologies, such as SurveyMonkey and other internet techniques, can minimize survey costs.

Surveys can be unpleasant. Just about every survey will have some expected hassles and delays.

Every question needs a purpose. Costs and hassles are amplified as the survey gets longer. Only ask the questions you really need. Keep it short; four 8½ -by-11 single-sided trifold pages plus instructions (or the internet equivalent) and mailing information should be the maximum.

Make the survey about more than the SHPO office. Ask questions about preservation techniques, resources that have value for the respondent, resource threats and opportunities, and other questions that draw out opinions, concerns, and ideas from respondents. Questions about your office should be placed within this broader information-generating context. In addition, carefully craft the questions about the historic and cultural resources so they don't favor one type of resource over another (such as historic buildings). The survey shouldn't be a popularity contest among different types of resources.

Spend extra time in the beginning. It will save you in the long run.

Can’t fix mistakes later. Once the form is printed or mailed (or the phone calls begun), it’s too late (or too expensive) to correct any errors.

Limit useless questions. Don’t bother asking questions you don’t absolutely need.

Limit open-ended questions. These are interesting, but difficult to tabulate. Give respondents the opportunity at the end to add open-ended comments.

Check the phrasing of each question. Make sure the questions will be clear to the respondent.

Consider returned surveys. Think ahead about how you will use the information when it returns.

Make surveys interesting. Keep your survey from being just another phone call or piece of mail.

People don’t like surveys. Don’t assume they want to do another one or even trust you. Suggestions: In the introduction, have a letter from the mayor (or other respected individual) inviting participation. Use gimmicks to encourage participation, such as a coupon for a TV set raffle.

Keep it short and simple. This will improve your return rate and confidence in the results.

Make the survey easy to complete and return. Any added effort for the respondent (like clipping the survey from a newspaper or adding a postage stamp) will reduce the return rate.

Would you respond to your own survey? If the answer is “no,” don’t conduct the survey.

Don't do a survey alone. Once you get too close to the questions and ideas, you lose track of whether or not they’re good.

Have someone else read the survey. Another point of view will be very helpful, especially if it’s from someone who doesn’t like surveys.

Have someone who knows the respondents read the survey. Get the help of someone who knows the demographics and attitudes of your survey group. This can help make sure the survey won’t offend someone.

Pre-test the survey. Run your survey on a small group to see if it works. This will find typos, and offensive or confusing questions. It will require extra time, but it usually leads to refinements.

Don't bias your own survey. Every survey has some margin for error; poor survey construction will make it worse.

Double-check the phrasing of each question. Make sure the meaning of the respondent’s answer will be clear.

Ensure a random sample. Everyone should have an equal chance of being surveyed. For example, using a mailing list for a special-interest newsletter creates a bias toward the interests of those readers and neglects the interests of others. Although it may not be entirely necessary for the citizen survey to be statistically rigorous, it is still important to reach out to a broad audience. It may take some additional work to make sure that survey recipients represent a breadth of perspectives so that responses from supporters of one type of historic resource don't skew the survey's findings.

Ensure statistical significance. Send enough surveys to each sub-group. You really need a minimum of 100 responses from each sub-group. Typical response rate is 20% of those sent out. Again, it may not be entirely necessary for the survey to be statistically rigorous, but for results to be meaningful, a sizeable response is still important.

Report findings not numbers. The hard work of your survey will be lost if the results are poorly presented.

Numbers bore people. The results of the survey should be reported as a narrative, accompanied by charts or graphs that illustrate the major findings; the statistics belong in the appendix. Look for something interesting in the results to highlight in the narrative.

Use cross-tabulations for detailed results. The results from sub-groups of respondents are often the most interesting.

Quote pithy comments in narrative responses. The actual words of an individual can be very persuasive.

What is a Typical Planning Process?

There is no "right" way to do planning; the approach you use will be designed to respond to the capabilities and needs in your state. As you have no doubt discovered, the HPF Grants Manual requirements for statewide historic preservation planning are very general. As such, they provide SHPO offices a lot of flexibility in designing a planning approach that will meet your needs and capabilities. The following steps outline a very general, but typical planning process. You should tailor this process to your own planning situation.

Step 1. How Do We Do Planning? Planning for Planning

Step 2. What Future Do We Want for Our Heritage? Creating a Vision

Step 3. What Do We Know About the Historic and Cultural Resources in Our Planning Area?

Step 4. What Other Factors Should We Consider?

Step 5. What Issues, Threats, and Opportunities Need to be Addressed?

Step 6. How Will We Achieve Our Vision? Developing Goals and Objectives

Step 7. How Will We Put Our Plan to Work? Identifying Implementation Strategies and Tools

Step 8. What Will Our Plan Look Like? Producing the Plan

Step 9. What Actions Will We Take to Implement Our Plan?

Step 10. How Will We Revise Our Plan?

Where Can I Find More Information on Preservation Planning?

Additional information on preservation planning, and on other types of planning, can be found on-line. Although the information sources listed are presented in the context of local preservation planning, the information they provide is applicable to planning at any level.

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