HistoriCorps® is a national organization that works through partnerships to mobilize volunteers to save and sustain our nation’s special places while providing educational and outdoor experiences. HistoriCorps® launched on a regional level in 2009 through an innovative public private partnership between a statewide historic preservation nonprofit, Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI) and the United States Forest Service (USFS). With the excellent guidance of these founding organizations, HistoriCorps® incorporated as an independent non-profit organization in the Fall of 2012.
HistoriCorps® has become a major national historic preservation initiative, responding to our citizens’ interest and commitment to preserving and enjoying our nation’s magnificent and treasured cultural resources. It is a partner to a National Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), bringing together the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USFS), the U.S. Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), The Corps Network, and The Student Conservation Association.
America’s cultural and historical resources are at risk. Across our great country, hundreds of thousands of cultural resource sites, ranging from Native American sacred sites to battlefields of the Revolutionary and Civil wars to fire lookouts built by the CCC in the 1930s are at risk. The US Forest Service, one of only several federal agencies responsible for cultural and historic resources, has inventoried over 350,000 structures for which it is responsible. However, as of three years ago, only 20% of the land under Forest Service jurisdiction has been surveyed. The agency is only able to estimate what kinds of cultural resources and how many of them actually exist on the land for which it is responsible. More than 2 million sites of cultural and historical significance may be on Forest Service land.
HistoriCorps Accomplishments 2009-2015
$354,694 in volunteer labor donated
More than 800 Volunteers engaged in over 60,000 hours of service and training
165 Structures saved or sustained on US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service properties
60 Partnerships welcomed with federal, state and local governments and community based nonprofit organizations and youth serving agencies
20 States Served including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, California, New Mexico, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New York and Wisconsin
There simply isn’t enough money or human resources to survey the forests, identify and evaluate historic resources, and provide the responsible stewardship America’s heritage deserves. And, with shifting political realities, funding constraints and conflicting priorities within our public land management agencies, cultural resource protection may not receive adequate attention before irreversible results occur.
A report issued by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2008, entitled The National Forest System: Cultural Resources at Risk, emphasized the seriousness of the situation and called for a national effort to help preserve and protect these valuable cultural resources. It recommended an expansion of the Forest Service’s authority to lease historic sites and form public-private partnerships to facilitate preservation. The report cited an example of a successful partnership in Colorado on the San Isabel National Forest, wherein the historic Dexter Cabin at the 19th-century Interlaken Resort had been restored in a 4-year effort involving the Forest Service, the National Trust, the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Colorado Preservation, Inc. and a large group of volunteers. The following year, HistoriCorps® was launched to formally institutionalize the public-private partnership model, offering a long-term and sustainable solution to historical and cultural preservation.
Endorsement and financial support for programs like HistoriCorps® can come at no better time than now as national attention grows for greater public involvement in taking care of America’s treasured natural and cultural places. In 2010 the National Trust for Historic Preservation joined thousands of Americans and preservation partners at over 50 listening sessions on President Barack Obama’s call to action for the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. In February 2011, the resulting report was released America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations. The report underscores the importance of connecting America’s people to America’s great outdoors in all of its richness and diversity, foremost building greater links between our natural and our cultural heritage. Specifically the report cites several important recommendations for historic preservation, using HistoriCorps® as a model program for increasing awareness of our historic sites, engaging youth in the conservation and stewardship of our green spaces and historic places, and creating jobs where America’s youth can learn skills and create the next generation of citizen stewards and mentors.
At the heart of the HistoriCorps® program model is the engagement of a broad and diverse cadre of partners. These critical partnerships will enable HistoriCorps® to fundamentally change the way in which America saves and sustains its cultural and historic heritage.
HistoriCorps® Saves Places– The program provides a “corps” of professionals, veterans, students and volunteers to provide low cost solutions to save the special places that reflect the American story.
HistoriCorps® Benefits the Public– Priority is given to projects on public lands—places that may bethreatened with lack of funding or may not capitalize on their historical, recreational and educational benefits.
HistoriCorps® Partners– All HistoriCorps® projects include public and non-profit partners involvingpreservation and conservation organizations, volunteer groups, community service organizations, recreational advocates and federal, state and local public agencies.
HistoriCorps® Provides Jobs and On-the -Job Training – Preservation projects are labor intensive! HistoriCorps® provides jobs and job training, through paid internships and the engagement of Veterans, in addition to providing training opportunities for volunteers to learn new skills.
2014 HistoriCorps Project Examples
Golconda Mining Complex: San Juan Mountains, Colorado
In July of 2014, HistoriCorps volunteers worked on the 100 year old Mining Complex to stabilize the buildings, including a historic boarding house and compressor house. This one of a kind site in the San Juan Mountains receives over 100,000 visitors each summer.
Ute Mountain Lookout Tower, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Ute Mountain Lookout Tower, the first and last standing lookout tower of its kind in Utah, was a tourist attraction until its closing in September 2008 due to decay in the tower legs and stairway. In August and September of 2013, HistoriCorps volunteers replaced deteriorated timbers in the tower’s legs. Volunteers returned in 2014 to continue rehabilitating this famous tower.
Forest Lodge, Cheguamegon National Forest, Wisconsin
In August of 2014, HistoriCorps’ Veterans Preservation Team, alongside a team of Passport in Time volunteers, preserved the Cow Palace at Forest Lodge in Cheguamegon National Forest, Wisconsin. The work involved repairing cupolas, preserving siding, rehabilitating windows, and stabilizing doors . This work will help maintain Forest Lodge for the enjoyment of many generations to come.
HistoriCorps® Engages Youth– HistoriCorps® engages youth volunteers through community service and in partnerships, such as youth corps and the emerging 21st Century Conservation Corps program, in year-round and summer employment, providing the next generation valuable outdoor experiences and immersion in work environments.
HistoriCorps® Educates– HistoriCorps® projects offer unending opportunities to tell America’s greatest stories, making historical connections real, and cultivating among those involved an appreciation of the heritage, balanced use and stewardship of our nation’s special places.
HistoriCorps® Sustains Our Cultural and Natural Resources–HistoriCorps® gives priority to
projects that provide sensitive energy saving solutions and also to projects that enhance the long-term economic viability and balanced use for recreational or other uses while maintaining the historic integrity.
HistoriCorps® Responds to Emergencies– A persistent challenge to saving places –especially those on public lands—can be quick timing to mobilize in the event of an emergency. As a non-profit and with a network of volunteers and professional staff, HistoriCorps® can respond quickly.
HistoriCorps® Offers Recreational Opportunities in the Outdoors– HistoriCorps® projects offer active experiences; some include staying in remote areas in camp settings, while all involve work in a variety of outdoor environments with special events to highlight the shared experience.
FUNDING MODEL: LEVERAGED PARTNERSHIPS
HistoriCorps® currently relies on federal agencies with their administrative authority to identify historic preservation projects and to secure project specific funding for the actual restoration efforts. We expect this will continue to be the primary funding resource, effectively using already allocated resources in a more strategic and cost-effective manner. For every federal dollar of capital invested in HistoriCorps® in 2010, the program leveraged an additional two dollars in impact, through the effective and efficient use of volunteers and partnerships that provided in-kind and donated services.
Partnerships with youth conservation corps and employment and training programs offer significant resources to build a new generation of skilled professionals. Nationally, there are numerous case studies of Student Conservation Association and Public Land Service Corps working on historic preservation projects. HistoriCorps® will further these partnerships, offering critical technical and leverage project support.
Moving forward, HistoriCorps® will promote a more strategic federal level catalyst, encouraging agencies to engage HistoriCorps® as a low cost, service-oriented approach to historic and cultural resource management. Ideally, a healthy provision of line-item funding for the maintenance and repair of historic and cultural resources and an efficient project solicitation process will lead to quick and tangible successes.
GOAL: NATIONAL MODEL FOR REGIONAL EFFECTIVENESS
HistoriCorps® is designed to offer historic preservation services throughout the United States. Based on the successful model established in its founding partnership, HistoriCorps® will expand nationally through the development and cultivation of similar regional partnerships.
HistoriCorps® is positioned to implement and expand its national vision and effectively respond to the challenge set forth in the Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Building on the legacy championed by President Theodore Roosevelt more than 100 years ago, HistoriCorps® is one of the many national partners capable of quickly and cost effectively implementing the vision that first inspired our national leaders to preserve and protect our natural and cultural resources.
HistoriCorps® has undertaken over 66 projects since 2010. Toolkits to establish protocols for project management, volunteer leadership development, and job training are being continually fine tuned and published for maximum program effectiveness and replication. Fundraising is underway to strengthen the volunteer and training program efforts. To successfully expand and service other areas of our country, including urgent efforts to sustain and protect national treasures, our goal is to effectively establish HistoriCorps® as a primary partner and trainer to facilitate and support the efforts of local and regional preservation and conservation advocates and organizations. If you would like to learn more about how you can empower your community to do this wonderful and satisfying work, please call or email Towny Anderson, Executive Director, at 303-893-4260 ext. 235, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.