[graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to NPS  [graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to NPS
[graphic] National Park Service Black Bar
[graphic] Link to National Register Publications Home Page
 [graphic] Link to National Register Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register Research Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register Travel Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register Education Home Page  [graphic] National Park Service arrowhead and link to NPS.gov
 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: How to Prepare National Historic Landmark Nominations

[graphic] Link to Next Page [graphic] Link to Table of Contents [graphic] Link to Previous Page

U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service



Boundary and Documentation Improvement Studies

The 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 directed that documentation and boundary studies be prepared by the Secretary of the Interior for all NHLs for which no specific boundary was identified at the time of designation.

The goals of the boundary study and documentation improvement project include:

  • providing clear and unambiguous boundaries which accurately reflect both the significance for which the NHL was designated and the extent to which the NHL has retained the integrity necessary to express that significance;
  • assuring that the documentation maintained in the NHL files meets NHL and National Register standards, providing all information necessary to identify those elements which must be protected in order for the property to continue to qualify for NHL status; and,
  • notifying all property owners, appropriate state officials, local governments, Members of Congress, and other interested parties of the proposed boundary and documentation file and giving them an opportunity to comment, as required by NHL regulations.

The National Register of Historic Places staff (National Register, History, and Education in Washington), and the regional and support offices of the NPS share responsibility for the administration of the boundary study and documentation improvement project. The regional and support offices have primary responsibility for conducting research, identifying and justifying boundaries, preparing documentation, and obtaining the names and addresses of property owners, appropriate state officials, and local governments. In some cases, the studies are completed on contract, in others by NPS staff. Both boundary studies and improved documentation should follow current guidelines for completing NHL nominations and should be prepared on NHL nomination forms.

Boundaries should be drawn based on the resources which contribute to the national significance of the NHL, which must all be clearly identified. When these boundaries include resources that do not contribute to the national significance of the property because they do not contribute to the NHL themes and periods of significance for which the NHL is designated they may be evaluated for their state or local significance although this is not required. When such evaluations are made the documentation must clearly distinguish which properties contribute to the national significance, and why, and which are significant at the state or local level. Properties of state and local significance need not be evaluated in detail, but they should be clearly identified as noncontributing to the national significance.

The National Register staff sets policy and provides general guidance, monitors the program, and receives, reviews, and processes the boundary and documentation improvement studies. They also notify owners, elected officials and others, giving them an opportunity to comment on the proposed boundaries and documentation, and notifies them again after the boundaries and documentation is approved by the Keeper of the National Register, who is also the Chief of the NHL Survey.

Where the proposed boundary reduces the property included in the NHL, the removal must be justified under the grounds for removal in 36 CFR Part 65. Where physical changes have resulted in a loss of integrity to the NHL, the new boundary study must specify these changes and the date the changes occurred. In cases where the removal of property from the boundary can be avoided, for example, where a small number of noncontributing properties are on the periphery but within the boundary of an NHL, these intrusions can be identified as noncontributing but left within the boundary.

When the studies are completed, they are submitted to the National Register. The submissions are reviewed for technical and substantive adequacy, following guidelines established for National Register and NHL nominations. If these guidelines are not met, the submissions are returned to the region with comments and recommendations for revision.

If the proposed boundary documentation involves a new area of significance, or an enlargement or reduction in area or if the property is found to have lost the significance for which it was originally designated, the NHL is referred to the NHL Survey for submission to the National Park System Advisory Board. In all other cases, the National Register staff notifies owners, State Historic Preservation Officer, Federal Preservation Officer (if appropriate), chief elected local officials, Members of Congress representing the district and state in which the NHL is located, and, if the NHL is located on an Indian reservation, the Tribal Preservation Officer and the chief executive officer of the Indian tribe, provides them with copies of the proposed boundary and documentation study, and gives them the opportunity to comment. If the NHL is a district, the proposed boundaries are also published in the Federal Register for comment. Following the end of the mandated comment period, the proposed document is revised to accommodate comments received or accepted without modification.

Documentation is formally adopted when it is signed by the Keeper of the National Register. Following final approval, copies of the approved documentation are sent to the same individuals and organizations that received copies of the draft.

Withdrawal of National Historic Landmark Designations

[photo] Withdrawal of designation: Roosevelt Dam, Gila and Maricopa Counties, Arizona Completed in 1911, Roosevelt Dam was the first major project to be completed under the new federal reclamation program and was the highest masonry dam at that time. As a result of work undertaken in 1989 and completed in 1996 to improve the safety of the dam and increase its storage capacity, the historic masonry dam has been encapsulated in a new concrete structure. Above, original dam.

NPS regional and support offices in consultation with State Historic Preservation Offices, Federal agencies, Indian tribes, or other interested preservation organizations are responsible for identifying NHLs whose designation should be withdrawn. The regional and support offices will document why the NHL should have its designation withdrawn using the format shown in Appendix D. All such reports should identify the grounds in the NHL regulations which justify withdrawal of designation (See 36 CFR Part 65.9) and particularly if the "grandfathering" provision in the 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act applies. (Under this "grandfathering" provision, a NHL designated before December 13, 1980 cannot have its designation withdrawn unless the "qualities which caused it to be originally designated have been lost or destroyed" sometime after the date of the original designation.) The report must also specify the physical changes to the NHL, and the date of those changes, which resulted in a loss of significant qualities. There also must be thorough, well-done photographic documentation of the property to aid in justifying the loss of integrity which will lead to withdrawal of designation. (The actual process for withdrawing the designation of a NHL, including notification procedures and Advisory Board review and recommendation, may be found in the NHL regulations, 36 CFR Part 65.)

Reconstructed dam

Section 65.9(f)(1) of the NHL regulations specifies that the property will remain listed in the National Register after it loses its NHL designation if the Keeper of the National Register determines that it meets the National Register criteria for evaluation in 36 CFR Part 60.4. Where a property still has enough significance and integrity to be listed in the National Register even after NHL designation has been withdrawn, the regional or support office should ensure that a fully documented National Register form (unless the property was listed in the National Register with adequate documentation prior to the original NHL designation) describing the current appearance and significance of the property is prepared and submitted to the National Register at the same time as the study for withdrawal of designation is presented to the NHL Survey. The new National Register nomination form (or the old form if it is adequate) will be the basis upon which the property remains listed in the National Register.

All NPS records on a NHL should be reviewed by the regional and support offices before a boundary study, updated documentation study, or withdrawal of a NHL designation study is prepared. Review of all documentation will ensure that the intent of the NHL designation is understood and will also provide other useful background information on the NHL. Regional and support offices should request copies of documentation not in their files from the NHL Survey. This documentation may consist of the original NHL file supplemented, as appropriate, by information from the minutes of the Advisory Board meeting where designation was recommended and appropriate theme studies, where this information is useful in defining the NHL.

State Historic Preservation Officers, Federal Preservation Officers, and Tribal Preservation Officers should be consulted in the preparation of these various studies to obtain any documentation they may have on the NHL and their recommendations. They should also be given the opportunity to review a completed study before it is submitted to the NHL Survey or the National Register.



[graphic] Link to Next Page [graphic] Link to Top of Page [graphic] Link to Previous Page

National Register Home | Publications Home | Previous Page | Next Page
Comments or Questions