In New GAO Request, Grijalva Highlights Need for Climate Action to Include Cultural Resource Protection

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an examination of the National Park Service’s (NPS) actions to protect cultural resources as the agency implements climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. NPS is the lead federal agency charged with preserving the country’s diverse cultural heritage.

In his letter, Ranking Member Grijalva points out how climate change vulnerability assessments (CCVAs) are critical in assessing the impact of climate change on NPS-managed resources. However, CCVAs are currently underutilized for historic and cultural resources:

“To mitigate such threats, NPS’s climate change programming efforts require the creation of climate change vulnerability assessments (CCVAs) to assess the climate change impacts on existing units and resources. Specifically, the CCVAs allow for the evaluation of infrastructure, natural resources, and cultural resources and help parks respond to climate change by identifying what is at risk and why. Although approaches differ for each type of vulnerability assessment, methods for evaluating infrastructure and natural resource assessments are typically better planned and more available than the assessments used to evaluate and preserve historic and cultural resources. It is vital that NPS’s climate change efforts model cultural resource vulnerability assessments in areas of historic significance.”

The letter requests a review of NPS’ policies and guidance, resources, and actions to support the incorporation of cultural resource protection in the agency’s climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

READ the full letter to GAO here.

Additional Background

In November of last year, Ranking Member Grijalva led a roundtable titled, “Strengthening Historic and Cultural Preservation” to discuss how Congress can ensure that preservation efforts are better supported and resourced to protect the diverse historic and cultural legacy of all Americans.

In February, Ranking Member Grijalva responded to concerns about equity and inclusion in the historic and cultural preservation community by sending a letter to GAO requesting a review of 1) the National Register of Historic Places, 2) challenges facing Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and State Historic Preservation Officers, and 3) implementation of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

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