WASHINGTON – Moving to stop threats to Maryland’s “perishable inheritance,” a state task force Tuesday outlined 14 steps for historical and archaeological preservation that ranged from emergency funding requests to expanded web sites.
The recommendation comes after a year of study by a gubernatorial task force on the potential threats of development, erosion and sprawl to the state’s “heritage” places — anything from prehistoric sites to Baltimore row houses.
The Governor’s Task Force on the Preservation and Enhancement of Maryland’s Heritage Resources advocated increased state funding and assistance for local preservation programs that meet Smart Growth guidelines. Its report, “Preserving a Quality of Life,” also encouraged tax incentives for businesses and private citizens that help in preservation.
No specific legislation or funding amount was included in the report, which was to be released Tuesday evening by first lady Frances Hughes Glendening. A more detailed proposal, with 76 specific strategies and targeted sites, is scheduled to be released in January.
The report warned that, unless the state takes a stronger role in protecting and preserving historic sites and structures, Maryland’s heritage could be paved over and plowed under. But task force members were also careful to say the state has had a generally good record so far in protecting historic and archaeological sites.
“Maryland has already been seen as a leader in preservation policy,” said Tyler Gearhart, the executive director of Preservation Maryland and a task force member.
But Gearhart said the state needs to take the next step, pointing to programs that would help fund emergency excavations and another that would build on the state’s Smart Growth policies, which are aimed at curbing sprawl and directing growth to already developed areas.
“This will bring renewed attention to the issue, and define what these (heritage) resources can do for the state’s economy,” Gearhart said.
Among the strategies outlined Tuesday, the task force recommended:
— including more Maryland history in state school lessons.
— assisting museums and other heritage attractions.
— enforcing current state regulations that require state agencies to consider the effect their projects may have on historic resources.
— and developing a network of colleges, museums and preservation offices to promote education and preservation efforts.
Bill Pencek, the deputy director of the Maryland Historical Trust, said the task force report successfully coordinates “all elements of the heritage community” to provide a comprehensive look at the problem.
“Now, the challenge is implementation and working with state and local governments throughout the state,” Pencek said.