Public Lands

Preservation & Public Lands

Our federal public lands contain diverse and iconic cultural landscapes, historic structures, and archaeological sites that belong to all of us. The National Trust for Historic Preservation public lands program is dedicated to protecting and enhancing these resources. We focus on ensuring that the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal land management agencies achieve their stewardship responsibilities for historic and cultural resources. Learn more about multiple pieces of federal legislation and how you can take action to support these places.

Advocacy Resource Center

For more information visit the Advocacy Resource Center

Route 66

The National Trust, along with the Road Ahead Partnership and state and local partners, is seeking a National Historic Trail designation for Route 66 due to the sunset of the Corridor Preservation Program in 2019. National Historic Trails are nationally significant historical travel routes designated by Congress. There are currently 19 National Historic Trails, including the Santa Fe and Lewis and Clark Trails. This permanent designation, which would not increase regulations or restrictions for Route 66, will bring greater public interest and investment to the communities along this iconic highway and encourage their economic revitalization. Most importantly, it will help preserve Route 66 as a vital, iconic, and evolving piece of Americana for generations to come.

Brown v. Board of Education

On May 12, President Biden signed into law the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park Expansion and Redesignation Act (S. 270) that will help share the full history of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Though Brown v. Board is most often associated with the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, the court case was a compilation of five cases that include the stories of other communities in Delaware, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Expansion Act (H.R. 920 / S. 270) introduced by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) would establish National Park Service Affiliated Areas and expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to include related sites in South Carolina. In partnership with the offices of Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Coons, the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund engaged in a multi-year effort working with local and national partners to tell a more complete story of the ongoing struggle for educational equity.

Forum Webinar Series

Tidal Basin

In partnership with the National Park Service, the National Trust and the Trust for the National Mall collaborated to sponsor the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab that brings together five leading American landscape architecture firms to exchange ideas, develop proposals, and engage the public about the future of the Tidal Basin. The Tidal Basin Ideas Lab online exhibition shares more information about the Tidal Basin's histories and challenges, as well as opportunities to share feedback on the ideas for its evolution.

The Great American Outdoors Act

The Great American Outdoors Act is Now Law

During the week of June 14, 2020 the Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that will provide the greatest investment in historic and cultural resources on our public lands in more than a generation. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which passed with bipartisan support by of vote of 73-25 on June 17, 2020 will invest up to $9.5 billion to repair historic and other assets of the National Park Service (NPS) and other federal agencies. It will also fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually to help our public lands continue to grow to tell fuller American stories and provide greater access to our shared cultural heritage. The bill passed the House on July 22, 2020 with a strong bipartisan vote of 310-107. 

Emmett Till, Mamie Till-Mobley and Roberts Temple National Historic Site  

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation (S. 795) that would establish Chicago’s Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ as a national historic site in the National Park System. Civil rights activist Mamie Till Mobley was a member of Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, which was the location of the historic funeral of her 14-year-old son who was brutally murdered in August 1955 during a visit to Money, Mississippi for offending a white woman in a country store. The death of Till and his subsequent open-casket funeral, attended by tens of thousands of people, became a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The National Trust placed Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2020 and will continue our work at this historic location with our partners.

Rosenwald Schools

In January 2021, the president signed into law the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Study Act (H.R. 3250) introduced in the House by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate. The bill authorized a special resources study of the sites associated with the life and legacy of Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools. The National Trust has worked closely with our partners on advancing this legislation with the ultimate goal of establishing a national historical park to celebrate the remarkable legacy of Julius Rosenwald and preserve select Rosenwald Schools. Learn more about Rosenwald Schools here and find future opportunities to make a new National Park Service site a reality.

Bears Ears

The National Trust for Historic Preservation provided testimony on legislation to revoke the Bears Ears National Monument designation and replace it with two small monuments covering just 15 percent of the cultural landscape protected by the original monument. 

Deferred Maintenance at NPS

The National Park System tells the story of remarkable people and events in our nation’s rich history at sites across the United States. Unfortunately, inconsistent public funding has resulted in an infrastructure repair backlog estimated to be about $12 billion dollars, and many of the National Park Service’s most significant historic sites are at risk of falling into disrepair.


From Chaco Canyon to Chimney Rock