GM 16-034

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Seeks Suggestions for Improving the National Historic Preservation Program; Tribal Perspectives Needed

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has launched an initiative to seek creative suggestions for improving the National Historic Preservation Program. The ACHP plans to develop a set of policy recommendations and implementation strategies to be formally submitted to the next Administration and the incoming Congress at the end of this year. To provide a framework for dialogue, on May 10, the ACHP released a three-page statement captioned “The National Historic Preservation Act at 50: Challenges, Opportunities, and Priorities” (“NHPA at 50”) (copy attached, also at Suggestions and comments are invited by email to The deadline is June 10, 2016, noon EDT.

As noted in NHPA at 50, there have been many changes in the United States since 1966, and more changes must be expected in the future. The historic preservation program has evolved over the decades and the ACHP believes it must continue to evolve as we deal with the basic issues of why preservation matters, what should be preserved, and how to make preservation work.

Tribal government involvement in the national program has grown substantially since the enactment of the NHPA Amendments of 1992, which authorize Tribal Historic Preservation Officer programs. NHPA at 50 notes that there is an unmet need for “adequate support for tribal preservation programs.” The 1992 Amendments also added a requirement that, in conducting the review process under NHPA section 106, each federal agency must consult with any tribe that attaches religious and cultural significance to a historic property that would be affected by a proposed federal undertaking. NHPA at 50 says that, despite this requirement to consult with tribes, “in practice they are often overlooked or excluded.”

Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding this ACHP initiative, or if we may provide assistance in preparing comments.