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Partnership Opportunities Under Preserve America Executive Order (EO)

DOT Logo Memorandum
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Subject: INFORMATION: Partnership Opportunities Under Preserve America Executive Order (EO) Date: April 13, 2004

From: Mary E. Peters

Reply to: HEPE

To: Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
Directors of Field Services


In March 2003, the President signed EO 13287, Preserve America, and announced a related White House initiative. This EO restates and emphasizes the policy originally established in the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) that calls for the Federal agencies to take a leadership role in preserving America's heritage. Among the highlights of the EO are provisions calling for Federal agencies to maximize integration of the NHPA into their programs, in particular through seeking partnerships with State, local, and Tribal governments and the private sector to promote preservation consistent with agency missions. The order underscores the Federal government's historic preservation responsibilities and strongly encourages partnerships between the private sector and government to develop and support heritage tourism as a cornerstone of economic development.

I believe that FHWA has an important role to play in heritage tourism. Our programs create and maintain the safe infrastructure upon which long distance and local, commercial and leisure travel depend. The partnerships encouraged by this Order may grow out of our interaction with stakeholders during project development or can be fostered by activities supported under the Transportation Enhancements and the National Scenic Byways Programs. While no substantive change to FHWA programs is anticipated as a result of the EO, it emphasizes the place of historic preservation in carrying out these programs. Federal Lands may also see increased emphasis in preservation initiatives from their Federal agency partners.

Many of the specific directives of the EO are aimed at improving the stewardship of historic properties within Federal ownership and are therefore not applicable to FHWA. However, other provisions call for Federal agencies to establish partnerships to promote preservation and heritage tourism where consistent with the agency mission. Both of these initiatives dovetail nicely with FHWA programs already in place, such as the Transportation Enhancement (TE) and National Scenic Byways Programs. The National Scenic Byways program is premised upon creating a unique travel experience, as well as an enhanced local quality of life, that provides a distinctive attraction for visitors. Within the TE program, most of the eligible enhancements activities can be directly related to heritage tourism, and many of the projects completed thus far have been effective catalysts for community revitalization and economic development.

Given the emphasis placed on this initiative, we encourage you to take advantage of opportunities to use both of these programs to support the Preserve America efforts. In particular, special consideration should be given to projects that advance the preservation goals of Preserve America Communities (see for a complete list) designated for their commitment to protect the historic heritage of their hometowns.

Examples of activities that have been funded under the TE program and that also further the goals of the EO are provided as an attachment to this letter. Additional examples are profiled in two publications produced by FHWA and the National Trust for Historic Preservation: Building on the Past and Traveling to the Future. Copies are available online at These examples underscore the significant role of transportation agencies in these partnerships and the creativity possible in matching transportation resources with the intellectual, financial, and staff resources of other public and private entities.

I know I can count on each of you to explore opportunities to implement the charges of Preserve America with your State Departments of Transportation, State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and other partners. Please feel free to call MaryAnn Naber, Federal Preservation Officer, at 202-366-2060.


Updated: 10/20/2015
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