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Statewide Historic Preservation Planning
By the late 20th century, the scope of historic preservation planning practice had expanded beyond being primarily concerned with understanding the nature and significance of historic and cultural resources. In the 21st century, historic preservation planning also embraces issues associated with integrating historic preservation into the broader planning and decision-making arena, and making preservation relevant to other social and economic concerns. Historic preservation planning practice faces sophisticated and complex land-use challenges to the continued existence of valued historic and cultural resources across the country.

The development and implementation of a comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan is one of the responsibilities of each State Historic Preservation Office, as outlined in the National Historic Preservation Act. In the early 1990s, the National Park Service, in consultation with State Historic Preservation Offices, revised its policies, requirements, and guidance for the statewide historic preservation planning program. This updated approach to historic preservation planning incorporates professional planning techniques to ensure that SHPO Offices have the tools, the guidance, and the flexibility to develop preservation plans that can address the needs and circumstances in each state, and to play a more influential role in establishing state historic preservation policy and in providing guidance to local communities.

In a nutshell, the key features of this approach to historic preservation planning are:

The plan has a statewide focus. The statewide preservation plan pays attention to preservation issues and players all across the state.

There is active public involvement, not only in developing the vision, issues, and goals of the plan, but also in helping achieve these goals.

A wide variety of preservation-relevant information on social, economic, political, legal, and environmental conditions and trends is brought to bear in the identification and assessment of issues affecting resource preservation.

The plan addresses the full range of historic and cultural resources throughout the state. This means that within a single plan document, all resources representing the breadth and depth of a state's history, prehistory, and culture are considered. This includes buildings, structures, objects, prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, designed and vernacular landscapes, traditional cultural properties, and underwater historic resources. Cultural resources, such as folklore, folk life activities, language, and traditional music and dance can also be addressed if these resources are of concern to the public and professionals across the state.

There is coordination with other planning efforts in the state, such as federally mandated transportation planning, the statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan, and local land-use plans.

Plan implementation is linked directly to SHPO expenditures of their federal Historic Preservation Fund grant.

State Historic Preservation Offices have produced statewide historic preservation plans that, although they all possess these key features, are also responsive to the unique needs and circumstances of each state. As statements of public policy in historic preservation, each State Plan serves as a general-level guide for decision-making throughout the state, rather than as a technical encyclopedia of all that is known about the state's historic and cultural resources. Assessments of technical information about historic and cultural resources, also known as historic context documents, are vital analyses needed to support issue statements and goals in the preservation plan. These specialized technical studies, however, are not reproduced in the State Plan, but are usually made available separately by the SHPO office.

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