The Historic Preservation Fund
Established in 1976, the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) is the funding source for preservation assistance grants to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the 5 territories, and the three Freely Associated States of Micronesia in addition to more than 200 tribes, more than 2,000 local governments, and hundreds of nonprofits. The HPF is authorized at $150 million per year; this means that Congress may appropriate up to that amount each year for grants. The source of the funding is Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease revenue, not tax dollars. In this way, the HPF uses revenues of a non-renewable resource to benefit the preservation of other irreplaceable resources.
Origins of the Historic Preservation Fund
In 1966, the Special Committee on Historic Preservation of the US Conference of Mayors addressed the need to establish a national historic preservation program. The result was the National Historic Preservation Act which authorized a state preservation official for each state and created the National Register of Historic Places, a mechanism for better federal agency planning. This state preservation official was initially referred to as the "state liaison officer" but this title was later changed to "state historic preservation officer." By extension, each state that met the requirements of the act then had a state historic preservation office. The act also created the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to provide support to these offices. Today, the HPF is annually appropriated by Congress to support preservation and heritage-based economic development throughout the country. Administered on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior by the National Park Service (NPS), the HPF is funded by Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, not tax dollars, using the exploitation of natural resources to benefit cultural resources.
Authorized at $150 million per year, the HPF was initially created to support states. Amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act in 1980 and 1992 added certified local governments and tribes, respectively. The HPF is implemented through partnerships with State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs), Certified Local Governments (CLGs), nonprofit organizations, and preservation groups in the private sector.
The Park History program offers a history of the Historic Preservation Fund through 1986 in The National Historic Preservation Act and The National Park Service: A History by Barry Mackintosh.
How Does The Historic Preservation Fund Work?
The National Park Service (NPS) administers the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior, and uses the majority of appropriated funds to provide matching grants to State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPO) to assist in their efforts to protect and preserve their historic resources. Each State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), appointed by the Governor for each state, manages this annual appropriation to perform the Federal preservation responsibilities required by the NHPA. Preservation activities may be carried out directly by States, or in the form of subgrants and contracts to public and private agencies, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and individuals. HPF grants to THPOs help them assume SHPO responsibilities on Indian land and undertake preservation activities. Funding is used by States and Tribes to fund HPF eligible preservation projects including: survey and inventory, National Register nominations, preservation education, architectural planning, historic structure reports, community preservation plans, and bricks and mortar repair to buildings. The HPF allows each State the flexibility to shape a program according to its needs, as long as they are meeting the overall responsibilities outlined by the NHPA. Ten percent of each SHPO’s allocation must be subgranted to Certified Local Governments, local governments certified by NPS and the State as having made a local commitment to historic preservation. These funds are spent locally on preservation projects, with selection decisions made at the State level. All HPF assisted projects must follow the relevant Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.
Administration of the Historic Preservation FundThe State, Tribal, Local, Plans & Grants Divison of the National Park Service administers Historic Preservation Fund grants (financial assistance) to eligilble recipients. More information about our grant programs as well as the technical assistance we provide to our partners in preservation is located below.
Financial & Technical Assistance
Competitive GrantsCompetitive Grant Programs
Competitive grants provide financial assistance to support historic preservation projects
Formula GrantsHPF Formula Grants
Formula grants awarded annually based on a Historic Preservation Fund apportionment formula
Technical Assistance for CommunitiesTechnical Assistance Programs
Program information about state and tribal historic preservation offices, Certified Local Governments, and preservation planning
Last updated: May 25, 2022