Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures
Preservation Laws, Regulations And Executive Orders
Hp Legislation/Federal Laws - Gsa/Pbs And Nps/Pad
Preservation Laws, Regulations And Executive Orders
PRESERVATION LAWS, REGULATIONS AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS
This standard includes a select list of preservation laws,
regulations and executive orders compiled and annotated by GSA in
1981. It has been slightly modified using the 1993 Federal
Historic Preservation Laws by the U.S. Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Cultural Resources Program - revised and
updated by the Preservation Assistance Division.
FEDERAL LAWS, REGULATIONS AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS:
A. Antiquities Act of 1906, Public Law 59-209, 34 Stat. 225, 16
U.S.C., 431 et seq.
1. The earliest legislation enacted to protect cultural
resources, this act provides for the protection of
historic or prehistoric remains or any object of
antiquity on Federal lands. It establishes criminal
sanctions for unauthorized destruction or appropriation
of antiquities and authorizes scientific investigation of
antiquities on Federal land.
B. Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act of 1935, Public
Law 74-292, 49 Stat. 666, 16 U.S.C., 461 et seq.
1. This act declares as national policy the preservation of
historic (including prehistoric) sites, buildings and
objects of national significance. The act directs the
National Park Service to establish a mechanism for
cataloging and identifying historic and archeological
2. As a result of this directive, the National Park System
Advisory Board and the National Park Service Advisory
Council were established.
C. Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960, Public Law 86-521, 74 Stat.
220, 16 U.S.C. 469 et seq.
1. This act provides for the recovery and preservation of
historical and archeological data, including relics and
specimens, that might be lost or destroyed as a result of
the construction of dams, reservoirs and attendant
facilities and activities.
D. National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Public Law 89-665,
80 Stat. 9l5, 16 U.S.C., 470 et seq., as amended by Public Law
91-243,Public Law 93-54, Public Law 94-422, Public Law 94-458,
Public Law 96-199, Public Law 96-244, Public Law 96-515,
Public Law 98-483, Public Law 99-514, Public Law 100-127,
Public Law 102-575.
1. This act is the single most important law governing the
policies of Federal agencies toward historic
2. In addition to expanding the national policy of historic
preservation at the Federal level, it encourages
preservation on the State and private levels, in part
through grants for preparing comprehensive statewide
surveys and plans for historic preservation. The 1992
amendments to this act aimed to extend Federal Government
concern to Indian tribal properties.
3. Section 101(a) in Title I of the act authorizes the
Secretary of the Interior to expand and maintain a
National Register of Historic Places for cultural
4. Section 106 in Title I outlines specifications required
of Federal agencies to protect cultural resources,
defined as any district, site, building, structure, or
object included in the National Register. To satisfy
these requirements, an Environmental Impact Assessment
(E.I.A.) or Environmental Impact Statement (E.I.S.) must
consider the effects of a proposed Federal undertaking on
5. Section 108 in Title I establishes a Historic
6. Section 110 in Title I makes Federal agencies responsible
for the preservation and use of historic buildings,
thereby complying with Section 106.
7. Title II of the act establishes the Advisory Council on
Historic Preservation to comment on Federal actions
having an effect on cultural resources. The Advisory
Council has implemented procedures to facilitate
compliance with this section.
8. Title III of the act authorizes the provision of a
National Museum for the Building Arts to collect and
disseminate information concerning the building arts.
9. Title IV of the 1992 amendments to the act establishes a
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
to promote research into and serve as a clearinghouse for
information on historic preservation. The act outlines
the purposes of the National Center, located at
Northwestern State University of Louisiana in
10. Also, under the 1992 amendments, Indian tribes are
encouraged to preserve their cultural and historic
property. They established a program whereby a tribe may
assume the duties of the State Historic Preservation
Officer, as well as nominate traditional properties to
the National Register of Historic Places. This Title
also complies with the Native American Graves Protection
and Repatriation Act. The Secretary of the Interior is
authorized to make grants to Indian tribes for the
preservation of religious properties listed in the
E. Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966,
Public Law 89-670, 49 U.S.C. 1653(f).
1. This section declares the maintenance and preservation of
land traversed by transportation lines a national policy
2. It prohibits the use of a historic site for Federally
funded transportation programs unless 1) there is not a
feasible alternative use for the site and 2) the program
includes all possible planning to minimize potential harm
to the resource.
F. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Public Law 91-190,
as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.
1. This act declares a National Environmental Policy. Under
it, Federal agencies are compelled to factor into their
planning process the impact of a project on the
environment. Included in the definition of "environment"
are important historic and cultural aspects of our
2. The act directs Federal agencies to consult with agencies
such as the National Park Service and the Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation as a part of the process
to assess environmental impact of a project.
G. Executive Order 11593, "Protection and Enhancement of the
Cultural Environment," 3 C.F.R. 559, 1971.
1. The second most important legal document aimed at
ensuring the protection of cultural resources, the order
requires all Federal agencies to survey properties under
their jurisdiction and nominate appropriate candidates to
the National Register of Historic Places. Until the
surveys are completed and the nominations made, each
agency must ensure that no resources that may be eligible
for the National Register are inadvertently damaged,
destroyed, or transferred. Whenever possible and
economically feasible, any properties transferred are to
be used "in a manner compatible with preservation
objectives." If National Register properties will be
unavoidably altered or destroyed as a result of Federal
action, all agencies must provide for the recording of
vital information in the appropriate NPS catalog.
2. Federal agencies are required to institute procedures to
assure that Federal plans and programs "contribute to the
preservation and enhancement" of non-Federally owned
cultural resources "of . . . significance." The act also
sets forth requirements for consultation and review of
any Federal actions affecting properties that might be
found eligible for the Register.
H. An Act to facilitate the Preservation of Historic Monuments
and Other Purposes, 86 Stat. 503, 40 U.S.C. 484 (k)(3) et seq.
1. This Act authorizes the administration of the General
Services Administration to convey to local public bodies
at no cost historic surplus properties listed on the
National Register and deemed appropriate by the Secretary
of the Interior for preservation purposes.
I. Historical and Archeological Data Preservation Act of 1974,
Public Law 93-291, 88 Stat. 174, 16 U.S.C. 469 et seq.
1. This act extends the requirements of the Reservoir
Salvage Act of 1960 to all Federal or federally assisted
or licensed construction projects.
2. The act places coordinating responsibility with the
Secretary of the Interior and, for the first time,
authorizes all Federal agencies to seek appropriations,
obligate available funds, or reprogram existing
appropriations for the recovery, protection, and
preservation of significant scientific, prehistoric, or
3. Agencies can either undertake these efforts themselves or
transfer one percent of the total authorized
appropriation for each project (over $50,000) to the
Secretary of the Interior for such purposes.
J. Amtrak Improvement Act of 1974, Public Law 93-496, 45 U.S.C.
1. This act authorizes the Federal rail transportation
agencies and the National Endowment for the Arts to
dispense grants and technical assistance for the
preservation of railroad passenger terminals and for
their reuse as civic and cultural activity centers.
K. Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976, Public Law
94-541, 90 Stat 2505, 40 U.S.C. 611.
1. The Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976
encourages adaptive use of existing structures of
architectural, historical or cultural interest;
encourages multiple-use facilities on the site and
shared-use facilities with the host community; and
authorizes an alternative to new construction for Federal
L. Section 8 of the General Authorities Act Amendments of 1976,
Public Law 94-458, 16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.
1. This act seeks to monitor the welfare of areas of
national significance and to recommend those which may
have potential for inclusion in the National Park System.
M. Section 9 of the Mining in the National Parks Act of 1976,
Public Law 94-429, 16 U.S.C. 1908.
1. This act protects nationally significant property from
irreparable damage due to surface mining activity.
N. Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, as amended,
Public Law 96-96, 16 USC 470aa et seq.
1. This act provides for the protection of archaeological
resources on public lands and Indian lands from
excavation and pillage.
2. It also seeks to foster exchange of archaeological
information between governmental authorities,
professional archaeologists and private individuals.
O. Regulations for the Protection of Historic and Cultural
Properties, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 36
C.F.R., Part 800.
1. Issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,
these regulations represent the most important document
needed to perform an analysis of the environmental impact
of a project on a cultural resource.
2. Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic
Preservation Act, Sections 1(3) and 2(b) of Executive
Order 11593, and the President's Memorandum of July 12,
1978, "Environmental Quality and Water Resources
Management," the Advisory Council sets forth regulations
for their review of Federal undertakings that might
affect either federally owned or leased or non-federally
owned historic and cultural resources eligible for or
listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
3. The Council procedures define terms used in the National
Historic Preservation Act; describe initial procedures
for identifying cultural properties; restate the criteria
for eligibility to the Register established by the
Secretary of the Interior; establish criteria for
determining the effect on the property of the Federal
action; set forth procedures for Council review of the
determination of effect; and define legal obligations for
consultation, discussion of alternatives, and
determination of mitigating measures.
P. Section 48(g) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 90 Stat.
1519, as amended by 100 Stat. 2085, 26 USC 48(g).
1. This section establishes which certified historic
structures can qualify for preservation tax incentives.
To qualify for the tax incentives, a property owner must
have certification of both the historic structure and the
Q. Section 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 90 Stat.
3204, 26 U.S.C. 170(h).
1. This section spells out the conditions under which
charitable contributions of interests in historic
property can qualify for income and estate tax
deductions. In general, such donations are said to be
"charitable contributions" only for conservation
R. Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987, Public Law 100-298, 43 USC
2101 et seq.
1. This act establishes the title of States in certain
abandoned shipwrecks, including those in submerged lands
eligible for inclusion in the National Register. The law
of salvage and the law of finds shall not apply to such
The governors of all 50 states appoint State Historic Preservation
Officers (SHPOs) under the provisions of the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966. This act, administered by the Office of
Archeology and Historic Preservation of the National Park Service,
also provides funds for states to prepare comprehensive statewide
historic surveys and plans, and for other purposes. Most states
have established programs to protect and preserve non-federally
owned cultural resources through several legislative vehicles.
A. State antiquities codes.
1. Antiquities codes are omnibus legislation providing
protection for historic sites and objects. Generally
established to protect relics, objects and sites
discovered in archeological explorations, codes
occasionally designate direct state control over historic
properties and frequently stipulate penalties for
B. State enabling legislation.
1. Enabling legislation provides legal authorization for
designated political subdivisions to protect historic
2. The most pertinent acts for preservation are those
dealing with historic easements, tax abatements and
C. Historic easements.
1. Legal technique for preservation property for public use
by providing for public control over certain aspects of
the property, thus protecting the character of historic
D. Tax abatements.
1. Empower county and municipal governments to pass
ordinances to permit tax exemption on real property or on
the public interest in real property.
E. Historic districts.
1. Created by the State through county or local zoning
ordinances that restrict and regulate exterior changes to
buildings and structures in accordance with an overall
comprehensive plan for maintaining the integrity of the
2. Although Federal actions are not legally subject to local
restrictions regarding new construction, GSA policy is to
cooperate with local commissions.
A. Traditionally, cities have afforded protection to municipal
properties through the creation of historic districts, art
commissions, and ad hoc advisory boards. In recent years, many
cities have developed comprehensive preservation programs
conducted by municipal landmarks commissions.
B. City landmark commissions generally perform regulatory,
project planning, and advisory functions. The regulatory
authority usually relies on the administration of a program
that designates landmarks and landmark districts and permits
their protection through mandatory design review procedures.
These commissions have the power to prohibit the alteration,
construction, reconstruction, or demolition of designated
areas, sites, and structures. Commissions are often authorized
to review and approve or disapprove proposed changes to the
physical environment of designated sites and districts.
END OF SECTION