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Oregon Heritage Services and Programs Update, Aug. 20, 2020

Dear Valued Heritage Partners,  

As you know, Oregon Heritage, which includes the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), is a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). The revenue sources OPRD relies upon (lottery, park user fees, and RV fees) dropped dramatically after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of state parks, restaurants, and bars earlier this spring. As a result, OPRD leadership made the difficult decision to implement layoffs at OPRD Headquarters in Salem this past June. Oregon Heritage took a 30% reduction in staff, which translates to the vacation of four positions, including one that was already vacant. Sadly, we were forced to say goodbye to Joy Sears, Beth Dehn, and Shane James.  I want to emphasize that the departures of each of these fine professionals were due solely to the layoffs and subsequent staff shifting based on seniority. It remains my greatest regret that I could not find a way to keep them. The technical expertise and professional integrity of each of these individuals are unmatched. They are also amazing people and we miss them very much.

In addition to these departures and for a completely different reason, we are also losing longtime state archaeologist Dennis Griffin, to retirement on August 31st. Congratulations, Dennis!  While acknowledging that Dennis is absolutely irreplaceable, we will be initiating a recruitment for that position this fall.

The reductions we are experiencing at OPRD will not be resolved quickly. Until further notice, please use the information below to as a guide for who to contact at Oregon Heritage and how services will be impacted.


OPRD Headquarters building in Salem is closed to the public, but not closed to staff. Health and safety precautions are in place there, and some staff are in the office at least part of the time. Most of the staff, however, is teleworking from home at this time, and will be at least through the end of the year. Many staff members are now using their work cell phone exclusively, so please check our website and email signature lines for new phone numbers.

  • National Register program – Robert Olguin
  • Above-ground Compliance – Jason Allen
  • Special Assessment and Technical Assistance – Robert Olguin
  • Federal Tax Program – Robert Olguin
  • Survey – Jason Allen
  • Archaeological Compliance, permits, interagency relations, and agreements – John Pouley
  • Archaeological Compliance, ORRA, data management, and date sharing – Jamie French
  • Grants, Certified Local Government, Communications, Cultural Trust, Historic Cemeteries – Kuri Gill
  • Oregon Heritage Commission, Website, Facebook, Heritage News, and MentorCorps – Katie Henry
  • Oregon Main Street Network and Oregon Heritage Exchange – Sheri Stuart

All programs will experience delayed response times, limited travel, virtual meetings, and cancelled events. Cancellations for specific events will be posted on our website.


  • Staff will not respond to all requests for review;
  • Opportunities for “expedited review" will be very limited, if not unavailable;
  • Expect limited capacity to review and craft new Programmatic Agreements;
  • Expect limited availability for meetings, site visits, and frequent consultation.


  • Grant programs funded solely by Lottery dollars have been placed on hold until at least next spring. That includes Diamonds in the Rough, Preserving Oregon, Veterans and War Memorials, the Elisabeth Walton Potter Preservation Scholarship, and the Fellowship;
  • The Main Street Revitalization Grant Fund will not be receiving the expected $5 million in Lottery-bond-backed revenue in 2021, but we are looking for other funding sources;
  • Other grant programs are operating with additional flexibility for timelines and scopes of work.

CLG and Oregon Main Street

  • Fewer trainings;
  • Meetings and trainings conducted remotely;
  • Otherwise operating normally.

We have no intention of letting COVID-19 divert us permanently from our mission to administer federal preservation programs and to provide statewide leadership in the areas of historic preservation, archaeology, and cultural heritage. We will continue to

  • Focus on those activities best aligned with our mission that reach the most people and do the most good;
  • Constantly re-evaluate our staff and funding resources;
  • Track the impact of heritage programs on organizations and by organizations;
  • Acknowledge excellence in the heritage fields through the Main Street Excellence in Downtown and Oregon Heritage Excellence award programs.
Help Us Help You!

You can help us navigate this challenging time by

  • Planning Ahead! Please allow for the full review period for your projects and 2-4 weeks, or more, to schedule meetings;
  • Please ensure your submittals are complete. That will help you avoid a request for additional information at 30 days instead of clearance.
  • Telling us ahead-of-time when submitting large documents, or large numbers of individual documents;
  • Using established procedures, such as Go Digital. These help us work faster and more efficiently from remote locations;
  • Being patient please!
  • Being creative! Cost-sharing, partnerships, external funding sources, collaboration – any ideas on ways to leverage the work we do for you, and with you, are welcome.

Thank you, and be well,

Chrissy Curran
Oregon Heritage Director, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer