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Florida's funding of historic preservation

HONORABLE SANDRA B. MORTHAM

FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE

Each year since 1984 the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Department of State has administered a grants-in-aid program for restoration and rehabilitation of historic properties. Florida's historic and archaeological sites, as well as its history museums, are major contributors to the quality of life enjoyed by our citizens and visitors to the state. They bring a special "sense of place" and provide us with tangible links to our heritage. Major archaeological sites such as those being studied by the Aucila River Prehistory Project contribute valuable knowledge about Florida's earliest inhabitants, and are of national and international scientific significance.

In an effort to draw attention to the needs of historic and prehistoric sites and to help them gain needed financial assistance, the Department of State solicits a special category of grant proposals for major restorations, excavations and exhibitions. During the 1995 solicitation 105 were received requesting a total of approximately $28 million. The twelve members of the state Historic Preservation Council reviewed these at a public meeting held in Tallahassee on September 11-13, 1995. The Advisory Council recommended to the Secretary of State that 49 of these projects, representing about 25% of the total requested, be forwarded to the Florida Legislature. We are currently engaged in the process of shepherding this request through the legislative process.

The Aucilla River Prehistory Project Phase II was ranked among the top ten projects in the special category grant competition. This grant will be used for underwater excavation, analysis and curation of recovered materials. It will also provide for publication of the findings, material for a new exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History to be titled Earliest Americans and their Environments, and a home page on the Internet. Many other sites will also benefit from the Department of State's grant program.

Allocation of funds to historic preservation has allowed the people of Florida and around the world to better understand Florida's rich history.