State PL

State Preservation Laws

All 50 states provide preservation services arising directly from federal preservation programs set forth under the National Historic Preservation Act, such as the nomination of properties for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, consultation with federal agencies regarding actions affecting properties listed or eligible for listing in the National Register, and review of applications for federal rehabilitation tax credits.

States also foster the protection of historic properties through their own laws and programs by maintaining state registers, preserving public buildings, protecting private properties from potentially harmful governmental actions, and adopting state laws that authorize the adoption of local preservation ordinances, easement programs, and rehabilitation tax incentive programs.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is the key agency responsible for the identification and protection of historic and cultural resources in the United States. Because it sits at the intersection of virtually every preservation program in the United States, whether governmental or private action is involved, the SHPO is often the agency that individuals, organizations or government officials with preservation issues are most likely to encounter.

State Register of Historic Places

Many states maintain official lists of inventories or registers of historic and cultural resources. As with the National Register of Historic Places, these registers provide an important planning tool. Along with celebrating a state's history, they identify properties for protection against potentially harmful governmental acts and for special funding and other incentives.

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State Stewardship Programs

Successful state preservation programs are dependent upon the cooperation of state agencies in identifying and protecting historic resources within their control. To that end, state agencies are considered full partners, if not leaders, in protecting historic resources.

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State Historic Preservation Acts

Some states have adopted what are commonly referred to as "state 106" laws. Patterned after Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, these laws help to ensure that the impact of government decision making on historic properties is fully considered.

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State Environmental Protection Acts

In addition to state historic preservation acts, a number of states also have enacted environmental review statutes. As with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), these statutes require state agencies (and sometimes local governments) to take into account the impact of their actions on the environment.

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Easement Enabling Law

Protecting historic properties using preservation or conservation easements is an important component of state preservation programs. In order for an easement to be recognized as a valid and enforceable property right, a state must have enacted specific legislation that permits their use.

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Enabling Authority for Local Preservation Ordinances

The strongest protection for privately-owned historic places is afforded by local historic preservation ordinances. Many states, if not all, have enacted laws providing local governments with requisite authority to adopt and implement such ordinances.

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Additional State Laws

A number of states have adopted measures that have and could help to strengthen historic preservation programs, such as special protection laws for reclaiming brownfields and state preservation building codes. 

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State Tax Incentive Programs

The use of tax incentives to encourage the rehabilitation of historic properties is considered an essential element of a good preservation program.

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