From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

The National Park Service (NPS), which observed its seventy-fifth anniversary last year, is a federal agency which has a tremendous impact on the preservation and interpre­tation of historic resources in Pennsylvania. The National Park Service’s traditional function as a resource manage­ment agency is evident throughout the Common­wealth. Mere mention of Valley Forge, Independence Hall, and the battlefield at Gettysburg calls attention to the agency’s enormous responsibilities as steward of these – and other – hallowed historic treasures.

Since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the NPS has also been responsible for adminis­tering the historic preservation program in each state, in cooperation with the State Historic Preservation Office, which in the Keystone State is assigned to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). Through matching grants for survey, planning, and development initiatives, the National Park Service and the PHMC implement a number of programs, including the National Register of Historic Places, Certified Local Govern­ments, and Investment Tax Credits.

Several federal initiatives have brought increased responsibilities and additional opportunities for NPS opera­tions in Pennsylvania. In our southwestern counties, the America’s Industrial Heritage Project has examined the need to preserve examples of the coal, iron and steel, and transportation industries that dominated the region for more than a century. Under the guidance of a federal commis­sion, a wide range of field surveys, research, and market­ing strategies are underway to create a “heritage corridor,” a coordinated approach to the management, interpretation, and promotion of historic resources. There have also been long-overdue improve­ments to the region’s NPS facilities. The results are impressive and the commis­sion has become a model for programs throughout the country. In Pennsylvania the National Park Service is developing new heritage corridor programs in the Lackawanna Valley and along the Delaware and Lehigh canals.

One example of the National Park Service’s complex role is illustrated in the management of Gettysburg National Military Park. To fulfill the ambitious mission of preserving the park’s historical and natural resources and to interpret the Battle of Gettysburg to millions of visitors requires planning with state and local governments, as well as with a host of private support groups. In 1990 the Congress recognized that the NPS needed broad authority to address management issues that extended beyond the park’s boundaries. The battle took place on nearly ten thousand acres, but only four thousand were protected by the federal government. New legislation expanded the park’s mandate and granted funds for the acquisition of land and protective easements on private property.

In all of these activities­ – historic site and museum development, heritage corridors, land use manage­ment, and historic preservation – the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission works effectively with the National Park Service. PHMC members and staff serve on various boards and commissions established by the National Park Service. We also consult with NPS staff on a wide variety of critical historic preservation projects. We highly value our genuine, and mutually rewarding, partnership with this fine agency.

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director