Every 10 years the Texas Historical Commission (THC) develops a Statewide Historic Preservation Plan. It’s a collaborative process and one of our key responsibilities as a State Historic Preservation Office under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The THC facilitates the development of the plan, which can then be used by the agency and all stakeholders as the basis for individual action plans. At the THC we think of the Statewide Historic Preservation Plan as an opportunity to lay a pathway, or perhaps blaze a trail, for Texans to preserve, protect and leverage our historic and cultural fabric for the betterment of our communities statewide.
At its most basic definition, historic preservation is the process of identifying, protecting, enhancing and interpreting buildings, places, objects and landscapes of historical and cultural significance. The benefits and impacts of preserving our built and cultural environment are far reaching. Historic preservation equals jobs, tax dollars, tourism, downtown and neighborhood revitalization, community pride, environmental sustainability and overall quality of life.
Some of the guiding principles in developing this plan include:
- The process was designed so that stakeholders across Texas participated in the development of this plan from the ground up.
- The plan articulates practical, specific and achievable goals for the many different types of preservation stakeholders in Texas. There is something for everyone in this plan.
- The plan exists as a document and also an on-line information tool, chock-full of case studies, resources, best practices and links to more information.
- The plan will evolve and grow as partners across Texas contribute to it.
The National Park Service provides requirements and guidelines for creating a Statewide Plan, but allows room for crafting a process and a final product that is customized to the unique personality and environment of each state. In a nutshell, Statewide Plans must:
- Have a statewide focus –– the entire state is the boundary for planning.
- Be resource-focused –– the plan is for and about the full range of historic and cultural resources across the state.
- Be developed and implemented with active public involvement from diverse stakeholders.
- Consider broad social, economic, political, legal, and environmental conditions and trends relating to preservation.
- Coordinate with other local, regional, state and federal planning efforts in the state.
- Link implementation to expenditures of the federal Historic Preservation fund grant.
Typically, Statewide Plans exist as a document that each state distributes. We envision the Statewide Plan to primarily be an online resource for partners. By expanding the planning document in this way, it becomes a gateway for timely preservation information. Its accessible nature promotes and increases its use, empowering people and organizations by guiding and inspiring their own plans and actions. This online format also allows the Statewide Plan to be monitored and updated as the THC and stakeholders accomplish goals, contribute ideas and redirect efforts when circumstances change.
This plan sets a 10-year course for historic preservation activities across the state. We will have opportunities for everyone to discuss the plan, share accomplishments and evaluate its effectiveness and implementation every year, both via the plan’s website and at scheduled events with stakeholders. We will make a formal assessment of the plan’s accomplishments and relevance at the five-year mark (in 2015) and begin the process to revise this plan in 2019, in anticipation of publishing the next iteration in 2020.