American Battlefield Protection Program
  • A portion of the battlefield landscape at Little Bighorn

    American Battlefield Protection Program

    Cultural Resources National Park Service
Listing a Battlefield on the National Register of Historic Places
What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), managed by the National Park Service, is the U.S. government's official list of districts, landscapes, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed significant in U.S. history. A property that's considered eligible for inclusion in the National Register has significance to the history of its community, state, or the nation and is considered worthy of preservation.

Why should I list a battlefield in the National Register?

Listing a battlefield provides formal recognition of its historical significance based on national standards used by all state and Federal agencies. The nomination process requires that a battlefield's significance be documented, that it be located on the landscape, and that boundaries be drawn to identify the battlefield. The National Register boundaries and documentation are tangible proof of a battlefield's location and significance and help in its preservation.

If a battlefield is listed in the National Register, its historic significance and characteristics (physical features and setting) must be taken into consideration in any planning for Federal, Federally licensed, or Federally assisted projects that might affect the battlefield, its resources (both physical and archeological), viewshed, or soundscape. This process is referred to as Section 106 Compliance.

Are there any restrictions, rules, or regulations that apply if a battlefield is listed in the National Register?

As long as there are is no Federal interest attached to the battlefield there are no restrictions, rules, or regulations placed by the Federal government. If there is a Federal interest (generally through Federal, Federally licensed, or Federally assisted projects or Federal ownership) then any proposed changes to or projects on the battlefield must go through the Section 106 Compliance process.

In addition, there may be state or local preservation laws that place restrictions on any property listed in the National Register. Property owners should contact their State Historic Preservation Office before starting any projects in National Register listed properties.

What is a State Historic Preservation Office?

A State Historic Preservation Office (also refered to as SHPO) is the state agency that oversees historic preservation efforts within its state or U.S. territory. Every state and territory has a State Historic Preservation Office and you should always consult them before begining the nomination process.

What about battlefields on tribal or Federal lands? Do they have an Historic Preservation Office?

Yes. Historic preservation efforts on tribal lands within the U.S. are usually overseen by a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO). For lands managed by the Federal government, each department and agency has a Federal Historic Preservation Officer (FPO) who oversees historic preservation efforts on lands managed by that department or agency.

For Federally recognized tribes with no THPO, a designated representative of the tribe is consulted concerning projects occurring on, or affecting historic properties on, tribal lands. If a tribe fought on a battlefield being nominated to the National Register, the tribe should be consulted even if the battlefield is not on tribal land.

Does the National Register have any special guidance on nominating a battlefield?

Yes. The National Register publishes bulletins on how to nominate all different types of properties and National Register Bulletin 40: Guidelines for Identifying, Evaluating, and Registering America's Historic Battlefields is their "go to" guide for nominating a battlefield. Read it, learn it, love it - NRB 40 will tell you everything you need to know in order to nominate a battlefield to the National Register.

Who can nominate a battlefield for listing in the National Register?

Pretty much anybody to include private individuals, private organizations, universities, museums, non-profits, historical societies, local governments, American Indian tribes, and State, Tribal, and Federal Historic Preservation Officers. Anyone may initiate the nomination process and prepare the necessary forms and documentation.

What is the nomination process?

The short version: Once the nomination forms and documentation are completed, they're sent to the SHPO of the state where the battlefield is located. The SHPO reviews the nomination and makes one of several decisions: reject the nomination, ask for more information, list the battlefield with the state only (most states have a state register of historic places), or send the forms and documentation to the National Register of Historic Places for consideration. The National Register will then conduct a similar review process for the battlefield and determine if it is eligible for listing in the National Register.

Check with your SHPO before beginning the nomination precess as different states may have different rules.

Please contact the American Battlefield Protection Program if you have questions regarding nominating a battlefield to the National Register of Historic Places.