Statewide Historic Preservation Planning

As required by the National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S.C. 302303, commonly known as Section 101(b)(3)(C) of the National Historic Preservation Act), each State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) periodically develops, updates, and revises their statewide historic preservation plan. These statewide plans are meant to encourage broad public and professional participation in planning for historic and cultural resources, meet challenges unique to each state, influence historic preservation policy in state and local governments, and inspire local communities, organizations, and individuals to action.

This is planning requirement is at a crucial level because SHPOs…

“…serve as the critical infrastructure that underpins the national historic preservation program. For the past forty years, programs administered with support from the HPF (Historic Preservation Fund) –the National Register of Historic Places, the Historic Preservation Rehabilitation Tax Credit, and federal project review - have helped local communities in every Congressional district to recognize, save, and protect America’s historic places. Communities use the National Register designations to celebrate and honor the past without limiting use of properties in the future.  Communities benefit from tax credit projects that create jobs, recycle vacant and underutilized properties and put them back on state and local property tax rolls.  Communities actively engage in federal project reviews to ensure that agencies are a good neighbor and that there is a local voice in federal decision-making.”   - Elizabeth Hughes, SHPO of Maryland and Former President of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; Testimony at Congressional Hearing on Historic Preservation

The key features of this approach to historic preservation planning are:

  • The planning process has a statewide focus. The SHPO looks at the conditions and needs of all types of historic and cultural resources across the state and actively works to engage the public, preservation partners, preservation professionals, and decision-makers from all organizations and communities, large and small, urban and rural, throughout the state.
  • The public helps identify issues about historic preservation that may need to be addressed in the statewide plan. Public viewpoints also inform a vision for the future and planning goals and objectives.
  • Working with its partners, the SHPO gathers and analyzes information about social, economic, political, legal, and environmental trends that affect historic resources and influence preservation practice.
  • The SHPO ensures that the statewide preservation plan is informed by other federal, state, and local planning efforts, such as transportation master plans, emergency management plans, recreation plans, tourism and economic development plans, and local land use plans (to name only a few).
  • The final plan addresses the range of historic and cultural resources that represent the breadth and depth of a state's prehistory, history, and culture. These usually include buildings, structures, objects, archaeological sites, landscapes, traditional cultural places, and underwater resources. Plans may also address cultural practices such as folklore, folk life activities, language, and traditional music and dance.

As statements of public policy, statewide historic preservation plans serve as a general guide for decision-making. While the SHPOs take the lead in developing the plan, it is a result of collaboration. Everyone involved in the planning process can and should adopt and implement the goals and objectives of the plan, so that preservation challenges can be met and overcome at the community and state level.

For more specific federal requirements for the statewide historic preservation plan, click here.

Last updated: April 10, 2021