Welcome to our first “5 Questions With…”, a new series on Plannovation. We ask you, the environmental professional, five questions. We're kicking off this series with Susan Lassell, a Historic Preservation Program Manager at CP&Y Inc.
Susan has practiced historic preservation planning in the environmental compliance context for over 15 years, including positions with private sector firms in Washington D.C., California, and Texas.
How do you describe your job to non-historians/NEPA people?
SL: I help integrate the preservation of historic resources into overall project planning on local, state and federal construction projects.”
What one piece of advice would you give to a new Historic Preservation Planner today?
SL: Draw yourself a 9 square chart, three columns across and three columns down; write “Federal, State, local” across the top and “Public, Private, Non-profit” down the side. Make it your goal to fill each of those cells at some point over the life of your career, whether it's your day job, a volunteer opportunity, or serving on a board of directors. Being an effective preservation planner requires the ability to see things from many perspectives, and this is a good way to broaden your perspective!
How do you keep up with trends and developments in NEPA and environmental documents?
SL: It seems there's never enough time for this! However, I keep up by reading new guidance published by client agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Historical Commission, . . . and attending annual professional meetings such as the TxDOT Environmental Coordinators meeting and Preservation Texas' “Summit on Texas Preservation”.
What is your favorite website for historians (work or non-work related)?
SL: NewspaperARCHIVE.com gives you amazing access to newspapers small and large, dating back to the 19th century, and is very easy to search.
What is one improvement that you hope to see in either NEPA documents or in Intensive Surveys in the near future?
SL: While archeological reports are systematically archived by the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL), hundreds of historic resources surveys are conducted each year in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act that are not centrally archived and thus are effectively unavailable. A central repository, preferably an on-line, public-access, digital archive, of publicly funded historic resources surveys would be of great benefit for all future projects.