National Historic Preservation Act

October 15, 1966

With passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 1966, the federal government embarked on a new era of leadership in the preservation of our nation’s historic properties. 

The NHPA established a partnership between the federal government and state, tribal, and local governments that is supported by federal funding for preservation activities. The National Park Service provides matching grants-in-aid from the Historic Preservation Fund to State Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and local governments certified as having qualified preservation programs. The NHPA also created the ACHP, the first and only federal agency created solely to address historic preservation issues.

The NHPA established a framework to foster a new ethic through all levels and agencies of the federal government. Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the impact of their actions on historic properties and provide the ACHP with an opportunity to comment on projects before implementation. Because of Section 106, agencies have to assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions on historic properties and be publicly accountable for their decisions. Section 110 calls on all federal agencies to establish preservation programs and designate Federal Preservation Officers to coordinate their historic preservation activities.

The NHPA has been amended and expanded a number of times since its original passage. In 2014, Public Law 13-287 moved the Act’s provisions from title 16 of the United States Code to title 54, with minimal and non-substantive changes to the text of the Act and a re-ordering of some of its provisions. 

View the full text of the National Historic Preservation Act.