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Historic Preservation Laws -- At A Glance

Federal Laws

The Antiquities Act of 1906 provides for the protection of historic, prehistoric, and scientific features located on federal lands. It authorizes the President to designate as National Monuments historic and natural resources of national significance located on federally owned or controlled land. The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Defense are authorized to issue permits for archaeological investigations on lands under their control to recognized educational and scientific institutions for the purpose of systematically and professionally gathering data of scientific value.

The National Park Service Act of 1916 establishes the National Park Service to manage our nation's parks and to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such a means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended establishes a program for the preservation of historic properties throughout the United States. It created the National Register of Historic Places, State Historic Preservation Offices and the Section 106 Review Process.

The Historic Sites Act of 1935 establishes as a national policy to preservation for public use of historic sites, buildings and objects. This act led to the eventual establishment within the National Park Service of the Historic Sites Survey, the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and the National Historic Landmarks Program.

The Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960 provides for the recovery and preservation of "historical and archaeological data (including relics and specimens)" that might be lost or destroyed in the construction of dams and reservoirs.

The Department of Transportation Act of 1966, Section 4(f) states that the Secretary of Transportation shall cooperate and consult with the Secretaries of the Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture, and with the States in developing transportation plans and programs that include measures to maintain or enhance the natural beauty of the lands traversed. The Secretary of Transportation shall not approve any program or project that requires the use of land from a public park, recreation area, wildlife and waterfowl refuge, or historic site unless there is no feasible and prudent alternative.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 declares that it is a federal policy to "preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage. It requires federal agencies to use a systematic and interdisciplinary approach that incorporates the natural and social sciences in any planning and decisionmaking that may impact our environment.

The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 amends the 1960 Reservoir Salvage Act by providing for the preservation of significant scientific, prehistoric, historic and archaeological materials and data that might be lost or destroyed as a result of flooding, the construction of access roads, relocation of railroads and highways, or any other federally funded activity that is associated with the construction of a dam or reservoir.

The Tax Reform Act of 1976 provides tax incentives to encourage the preservation of commercial historic structures. Amended many times since its original passage, the current law provides for a 20 percent federal income tax credit on monies used in the rehabilitation of commercial, agricultural, industrial, or rental buildings that are certified as historic properties.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 states that it is a policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rites.

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 defines archaeological resources as any material remains of past human life or activities that are of archaeological interest and at least 100 years old, requires federal permits for their excavation or removal and sets penalties for violators.

The Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 asserts United States Government ownership of three categories of abandoned shipwrecks: those embedded in a state's submerged lands; those embedded in coral formations that are protected by a state; and those located on a state's lands that are included or are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The law then transfers title for most of the shipwrecks to the respective states and stipulates that states develop policies to protect the shipwrecks.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 gives ownership and control of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony that are excavated or discovered on federal land to federally recognized American Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. The law also establishes criminal penalties for trafficking in human remains or cultural objects, and requires agencies and museums that receive federal funding to inventory those items in their possession, identify the descendants of and repatriate those items.

Executive Order 13007, Indian Sacred Sites instructs all federal land management agencies, to the extent practicable, to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian practitioners and to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of those sacred sites.

State Laws

The Historic Preservation Section creates the State Historic Preservation Office within the Department of Arts, Culture and History and grants to it a number of duties, including the ability to locate, survey, investigate, register, identify, preserve and protect historic, architectural, archaeological and cultural sites, structures and objects worthy of preservation. It also gives the section the ability to review all undertakings permitted, funded, licensed or otherwise assisted by the state in order to protect historic resources.

Protection of human skeletal remains, grave artifacts and grave markers; permits for excavation and removal; penalties prohibits a person from excavating, removing, destroying or disturbing any historic or prehistoric ruin, burial ground, archaeological site or human skeletal remains, unmarked grave, grave artifact or grave marker of historic significance without a valid permit issued by the director of State Historic Preservation Office of the Department of Arts, Culture and History.

Conservation and Preservation Easements authorizes any governmental body or qualified charitable, tax exempt organization to hold a conservation easement or a preservation easement. A conservation easement is a nonpossessory interest in real property for the purpose of retaining or protecting for public benefit the natural, scenic or open-space value of the property, including the preservation of its historical, architectural, archaeological or cultural aspects.

Protection of Historic and Prehistoric Sites prohibits the disturbance or destruction, unless permitted by the State Historic Preservation Office, of historic and prehistoric landmarks, sites and districts on lands owned or leased by the state, or on private lands where the development rights have been acquired by the state.

Credit for Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Investment allows a taxpayer to claim a credit against the state personal income tax equal to 20 percent of the money spent on qualified rehabilitations to owner-occupied residential historic structures. (Chapter 11-21-8G)

Corporate Income Tax: Credit for Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Investment allows a taxpayer to claim a credit equal to 10 percent of money spent on qualified rehabilitations to income producing historic buildings. (Chapter 11-21-8a)