Director's Order graphic


APPENDIX B: Laws, Regulations, and Orders

Laws and Executive Orders

The guidelines for cultural resource management in the national park system are derived from a hierarchy of laws, proclamations, orders, regulations, and policies. Primary among these are the acts and proclamations establishing individual parks, which state the congressional or presidential intent for including them in the system. Other laws and executive orders have general application to cultural resource management throughout the park system. A list of the most important of these follows.

Antiquities Act of 1906 (P.L. 59-209, 34 Stat. 225): provided for protection of historic, prehistoric, and scientific features on federal lands, with penalties for unauthorized destruction or appropriation of antiquities; authorized the President to proclaim national monuments; authorized scientific investigation of antiquities on federal lands subject to permit and regulations.

National Park Service Act of August 25, 1916 (P.L. 64-235, 39 Stat. 535): established the National Park Service; directed it to manage the parks "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Historic Sites Act of 1935 (P.L. 74-292, 49 Stat. 666): declared "a national policy to preserve for public use historic sites, buildings, and objects . . ."; authorized the programs known as the Historic American Buildings Survey, the Historic American Engineering Record, and the National Historic Landmarks Survey; authorized the NPS to "restore, reconstruct, rehabilitate, preserve, and maintain historic or prehistoric sites, buildings, objects, and properties of national historical or archaeological significance and . . . establish and maintain museums in connection therewith"; authorized cooperative agreements with other parties to preserve and manage historic properties.

Management of Museum Properties Act of 1955 (P.L. 84-127, 69 Stat. 242): authorized the NPS to accept donations or bequests of museum properties, purchase them from donated funds, exchange them, and receive and grant museum loans.

Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960 (P.L. 86-523, 74 Stat. 220): provided for the recovery and preservation of "historical and archeological data (including relics and specimens)" that might be lost or destroyed in the construction of dams and reservoirs.

Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-670, 80 Stat. 931): stated in Sec 4(f) that the secretary of transportation "shall not approve any program or project which requires the use of any land from a public park, recreation area, . . . or historic site unless (1) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of such land, and (2) such program includes all possible planning to minimize harm to such park, recreational area, . . . or historic site resulting from such use."

National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-665, 80 Stat. 915; as amended by P.L. 91-243, P.L. 93-54, P.L. 94-422, P.L. 94-458, P.L. 96-199, P.L. 96-244, P.L. 96-515, P.L 98-483, P.L. 99-514, P.L. 100-127, and P.L. 102-575): declared a national policy of historic preservation, including the encouragement of preservation on the state and private levels; authorized the secretary of the interior to expand and maintain a National Register of Historic Places including properties of state and local as well as national significance; authorized matching federal grants to the states and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for surveys and planning and for acquiring and developing National Register properties; established the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; required federal agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings on National Register properties and provide the Advisory Council opportunities to comment (Section 106). Amended in 1976 (P.L. 94-422) to expand Section 106 to properties eligible for as well as listed in the National Register. Amended in 1980 (P.L. 96-515) to incorporate E.O. 11593 requirements (see below), to give national historic landmarks extra protection in federal project planning, and to permit federal agencies to lease historic properties and apply the proceeds to any National Register properties under their administration. Amended in 1992 to, among other things, redefine federal undertakings, address "anticipatory demolition," and emphasize the interests and involvement of Native Americans and Native Hawaiians.

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (P.L. 91-190; 31 Stat. 852): declared a federal policy to "preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage"; required federal agencies to "utilize a systematic, interdisciplinary approach which will insure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences . . . in planning and in decisionmaking which may have an impact on man's environment."

Executive Order 11593, Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment, May 13, 1971 (36 FR 8921): instructed all federal agencies to support the preservation of cultural properties; directed them to identify and nominate to the National Register cultural properties under their jurisdiction and to "exercise caution . . . to assure that any federally owned property that might qualify for nomination is not inadvertently transferred, sold, demolished, or substantially altered."

Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-291; 88 Stat. 174): amended the 1960 Reservoir Salvage Act; provided for the preservation of significant scientific, prehistoric, historic, and archeological materials and data that might be lost or destroyed as a result of federally sponsored projects; provided that up to one percent of project costs could be applied to survey, data recovery, analysis, and publication.

Mining in the Parks Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-429; 90 Stat. 1342): provided for curtailment or increased regulation of mining in the parks; directed the secretary of the interior to monitor national historic and natural landmarks for mining threats and seek the advice of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on mitigating measures.

Tax Reform Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-455; 90 Stat. 1916): provided tax incentives to encourage the preservation of commercial historic structures.

General Authorities Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-458; 90 Stat. 1939): allowed the secretary of the interior "to withhold from disclosure to the public, information relating to the location of sites or objects listed on the National Register whenever he determines that the disclosure of specific information would create a risk of destruction or harm to such sites or objects."

Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-541; 90 Stat. 2505): required the General Services Administration to acquire space for federal agencies in buildings of architectural or cultural significance where feasible; amended the Architectural Barriers Act of August 12, 1968, relating to the accessibility of certain buildings to the physically handicapped.

American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-341; 92 Stat. 469): declared "the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including, but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rites."

Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-95; 93 Stat. 712): defined archeological resources as any material remains of past human life or activities that are of archeological interest and at least 100 years old; required federal permits for their excavation or removal and set penalties for violators; provided for preservation and custody of excavated materials, records, and data; provided for confidentiality of archeological site locations; encouraged cooperation with other parties to improve protection of archeological resources. Amended in 1988 to require development of plans for surveying public lands for archeological resources and systems for reporting incidents of suspected violations.

Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-487): added lands to the National Wildlife Refuge, national wilderness preservation and national park systems, and provided for specific exceptions to general NPS legal authorities for parks in Alaska, including special provisions related to subsistence and rights of way.

World Heritage Convention, 1980 (P.L. 96-515, 94 Stat. 3000): Title IV of National Historic Preservation Act Amendments directed the secretary of the interior to nominate properties of international significance to the World Heritage List; required federal agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings on properties outside the United States on the World Heritage List or on the applicable countries' equivalents of the National Register.

Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-298; 102 Stat. 432): asserts U.S. Government title to three categories of abandoned shipwrecks: those embedded in a state's submerged lands; those embedded in coralline formations protected by a state on its submerged lands, and those located on a state's lands that are included or determined eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The law then transfers title for a majority of those shipwrecks to the respective states, and provides that states develop policies for management of the wrecks so as to protect natural resources, permit reasonable public access, and allow for recovery of shipwrecks consistent with the protection of historical values and environmental integrity of wrecks and sites.

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-601; 104 Stat. 3049): assigns ownership or control of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony that are excavated or discovered on federal lands or tribal lands after passage of the act to lineal descendants or affiliated Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations; establishes criminal penalties for trafficking in human remains or cultural objects; requires federal agencies and museums that receive federal funding to inventory Native American human remains and associated funerary objects in their possession or control and identify their cultural and geographical affiliations within 5 years, and prepare summaries of information about Native American unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony. This is to provide for repatriation of such items when lineal descendants, Indian tribes, or Native Hawaiian organizations request it.

Executive Order 13007, Indian Sacred Sites, May 24, 1996 (61 FR 26771): instructs all federal land management agencies, to the extent practicable, permitted by law, and not clearly inconsistent with essential agency functions, to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners and to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.


Regulations are promulgated and published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to direct the implementation of laws. The following CFR citations are most pertinent to cultural resource management.

36 CFR 2.5 (NPS Act of 1916) states conditions under which park superintendents may permit collection of plants, fish, wildlife, rocks, and minerals, including museum catalog requirements.

36 CFR 18 (National Historic Preservation Act of 1966), "Leases and Exchanges of Historic Property," governs the historic property leasing and exchange provisions of this law.

36 CFR 60 (NHPA and EO 11593), "National Register of Historic Places," addresses concurrent state and federal nominations, nominations by federal agencies, revision of nominations, and removal of properties from the National Register.

36 CFR 61 (NHPA and EO 11593), "Procedures for Approved State and Local Government Historic Preservation Programs," establishes standards for the approval of state historic preservation programs; requires state historic preservation officers to conduct statewide surveys of cultural properties, prepare and implement state preservation plans, and cooperate with federal agencies in Section 106 compliance; sets qualification standards for preservation professionals.

36 CFR 63 (NHPA and EO 11593), "Determinations of Eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places," establishes process for federal agencies to obtain determinations of eligibility on properties.

36 CFR 65 (Historic Sites Act of 1935), "National Historic Landmarks Program," establishes criteria and procedures for identifying properties of national significance, designating them as national historic landmarks, revising landmark boundaries, and removing landmark designations.

36 CFR 67, "Historic Preservation Certifications Pursuant to the Tax Reform Act of 1976, the Revenue Act of 1978, the Tax Treatment Extension Act of 1980, and the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981," establishes procedures whereby owners or holders of long-term leases for old and/or historic buildings may obtain certifications to gain federal tax credits for rehabilitation; describes tax deductions for owners who donate interests in cultural resources for preservation purposes.

36 CFR 68 (NHPA) contains the secretary of the interior's standards for historic preservation projects, including acquisition, protection, stabilization, preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction.

36 CFR 79 (NHPA and ARPA), "Curation of Federally Owned and Administered Archeological Collections," provides standards, procedures and guidelines to be followed by Federal agencies in preserving and providing adequate long-term curatorial services for archeological collections of prehistoric and historic artifacts and associated records that are recovered under Section 110 of the NHPA, the Reservoir Salvage Act, ARPA and the Antiquities Act.

36 CFR 800 (NHPA and EO 11593), "Protection of Historic and Cultural Properties," includes regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act as amended and presidential directives issued pursuant thereto.

43 CFR 3 (Antiquities Act) establishes procedures to be followed for permitting the excavation or collection of prehistoric and historic objects on federal lands.

43 CFR 7, Subparts A and B (Archaeological Resources Protection Act, as amended), "Protection of Archeological Resources, Uniform Regulations" and "Department of the Interior Supplemental Regulations," provides definitions, standards, and procedures for federal land managers to protect archeological resources and provides further guidance for Interior bureaus on definitions, permitting procedures, and civil penalty hearings.

43 CFR 10 (NAGPRA) establishes a systematic process for determining the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to certain Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony with which they are affiliated.

NPS Orders and Guidance

The following NPS orders and guidance pertain to cultural resource management.

Director's Order 24, "Standards for NPS Museum Collections Management," establishes manditory standards for preserving, protecting, and documenting NPS museum collections.

Director's Order 26, "Projects Must Fund Basic Preservation of Museum Collections They Generate," provides guidance to ensure that projects that generate museum collections include sufficient funding for documentation and basic preservation of those collections.

Director's Order 27, "Historic Property Leases and Exchanges," elaborates on the leasing and exchange of historic properties under Section 111 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended.

Staff Directive 96-1, "Linking Cultural and Natural Resource and Socio-economic Data to Park Planning and Management," provides guidance on the kinds and level of detail of information needed about park resources for planning and decision-making and identifies sources of that information.

Department of the Interior Interim Standards for Documentation, Preservation and Protection of Museum Property (September 1990). This document provides interim standards for documentation, preservation, and protection of Department of the Interior museum property and guidance for meeting those standards. The standards are to be applied at each unit that manages museum property.

National Park Service Abandoned Shipwreck Act Guidelines (55 FR 50116, Dec. 4, 1990; 55 FR 51528, Dec. 14, 1990; 56 FR 7875, Feb. 26, 1991) assist states and federal agencies in developing legislation and regulations to carry out their responsibilities under the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987. They provide advice on establishing shipwreck management programs; funding shipwreck programs and projects; surveying, identifying, documenting, and evaluating shipwrecks; providing for recovery of shipwrecks; providing public access to shipwrecks; interpreting shipwreck sites; establishing volunteer programs; and creating and operating underwater parks or preserves.

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