The Washington Trust continues striving to serve as Washington’s collective voice for preservation at the local, state, and national levels. We work in close partnership with local preservation and heritage organizations, advocating for local policies, programs, and funding that support our mission to save the places that matter to all Washingtonians and promote active, vital communities through historic preservation. In addition to these ongoing efforts at the local level, each year in early winter through the spring, we focus significant attention on advocacy initiatives at the state and national levels. Here is a snapshot of some of the issues and activities we are set to work on in 2013:

Advocacy at the State Level

Anticipating another challenging legislative session for heritage and preservation in 2013, due to the State’s $2 billion budget shortfall, the Washington Trust began formulating our legislative agenda this past fall. Our priorities were further refined when the Governor’s 2013-15 Biennial budget was released in December. The Governor’s operating budget proposes maintaining level funding for the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DHAP), but the proposed capital budget zeros out funding for important bricks and mortar grant programs administered by DAHP and the Washington State Historical Society. This means we will have our work cut out for us in advocating for the restoration of funding for these capital grant programs when the legislature convenes in January. With guidance and leadership from our Public Policy and Advocacy Committee and Public Affairs Consultant, Mike Groesch, the Washington Trust set the following 2013 legislative priorities. As always, we’ll be ready to address other issues as they arise throughout the session:
  • Maintaining operating support for preservation and heritage agencies.
  • Securing funding for preservation and heritage capital grant programs, including the ­Washington State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Projects Fund, and DAHP’s Heritage Barn Preservation and Historic County Courthouse Rehabilitation programs.
  • Ongoing protection for historic resources, both built and archaeological, through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). In 2012 a bill was passed requiring that reforms be made to the SEPA process. The bill created an advisory committee to advise the rule making process for this new legislation, and Mary Rossi of Applied Preservation Technologies, Mary Thompson of Artifacts Architectural Consulting, and Chris Moore of the Washington Trust were selected to represent cultural resources interests on the committee. The first phase of rulemaking is complete, with a proposal to raise the threshold requirements for SEPA review, essentially streamlining the process for new development. The advisory committee continues to meet as it moves into the second phase of rulemaking and the cultural resources representatives as well as the Trust will continue to advocate for assurances that historic resources are adequately identified and protected and that notification processes remain in place.
  • Support for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Department toward the ongoing maintenance, stewardship, and preservation of hundreds of significant historic resources located within Washington State Parks.

Main Street Advocacy Day is set for February 20, 2013. If you are a Washington Main Street community or downtown revitalization enthusiast, please join us for the day in Olympia. Start bright and early as Dr. Allyson Brooks, State Historic Preservation Officer and Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation Director, provides a program update to the Heritage Caucus at 7:00am, followed by meetings with legislators and a special legislative luncheon organized by the Olympia Downtown Association and co-hosted by participating Main Street communities. For more information, please contact Sarah Hansen, Washington State Main Street Coordinator.

If you are interested in learning from the experts how to hone your advocacy skills, be sure to register for the annual State Heritage Conference, co-hosted by the Washington State Historical Society, Washington State Arts Commission, and Washington State Arts Alliance. The 2013 conference, “The Art of Heritage,” is February, 5, 2013, at the Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center in Olympia. The conference will feature a session entitled “How to Work Effectively with Legislators” from 9:45am to 11:15am. Panelists for this session include professionals working on behalf of museums and non-profit preservation, heritage, and arts organizations. Public Affairs Consultant, Mike Groesch, is among the featured panelists. For more information about the 2013 Heritage Conference, go to: washingtonhistory.org/heritageservices/conferences.aspx

Advocacy at the National Level

The Washington Trust is once again gearing up to take the largest and most effective grassroots lobbying group to Washington, DC to participate in National Preservation Advocacy Week, February 25th and 26th. Our goal is to have at least one representative from each of our 10 Congressional Districts join us as we communicate to our lawmakers the importance and relevancy of investing in Historic Preservation at a time when economic development and job creation remain critical topics on the country’s agenda. Scholarships will once again be available to reimburse some travel expenses or members of our Lobby Day group who apply for assistance. If you are interested in learning more and joining us in Washington, DC for this worthwhile, whirlwind experience, please email Jennifer Meisner, Executive Director, or call our office at 206.624.9449. Don't forget to make a visit to Preservation Action’s website at: preservationaction.org

We are always happy to welcome enthusiastic newcomers to our group of seasoned lobbying veterans!