Federal Historic Preservation Laws, Regulations, and Orders

The National Park Service carries out a wide variety of historic preservation work and programs. This work is not only in the National Park System, but also in partnership with local communities and preservation groups, State and Tribal governments, other federal agencies, and international organizations. The Park Service's historic preservation work is governed by federal law (United States Code [USC] and Public Laws [PL]), federal regulations (Code of Federal Regulations [CFR]), Presidential executive orders, and orders issued by the Director of the National Park Service. This page provides information about these laws, regulations, and orders. Please see our page about Standards & Guidelines for additional information about the National Park Service's historic preservation work. The citations below are for informal use only.

These entries are organized by their commonly known names, rather than their current legal citations. For example, preservationists are more likely to discuss Section 106 than 54 USC 306108.

Please note that Tribal, State, and local laws (as well as laws specific to other federal agencies) also establish important rules for historic preservation.

For information about the new Title 54 of the United States Code, please see our Federal Preservation Laws introduction.


American Battlefield Protection Act, as amended (54 USC 308101-308103)

Certified Local Government Program (54 USC 302501-302305)

Executive Order 11593: Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment (1971)

Executive Order 13006: Locating Federal Facilities on Historic Properties in Our Nation's Central Cities (1996) (pdf)

Executive Order 13287: Preserve America (2003) (pdf)

Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, as amended:

  • Enforcement and Revision of Instruments Transferring Property under This Section (40 USC 550(b))
  • Property for Use as a Historic Monument (40 USC 550(h))
  • Former citation: 40 USC 484(k)(3) and (4)

Historic Sites Act, as amended (moved to four sections in Title 54):

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (54 USC 305301-305306)

National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (42 USC 4321 [Purpose] and 42 USC 4331-4335 [Policies and Goals])

  • Environmental Impact Statements (40 CFR 1502)
  • Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (43 CFR 46)
  • Procedures for the Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (36 CFR 805)

National Historic Landmarks Program (54 USC 302102-302108)

National Historic Preservation Act, as amended (54 USC 300101 et seq.: Historic Preservation)

  • Former citation: 16 USC 470 et seq.

National Register of Historic Places (54 USC 302101-302108)

National Trust for Historic Preservation of the United States (54 USC 312101-312106)

Procedures for State, Tribal, and Local Historic Preservation Programs (36 CFR 61)

Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act [Section 102], as amended (40 USC 3306: Accommodating Federal Agencies)

Section 106 (54 USC 306108: Effect of Undertaking on Historic Property)

Section 110 (54 USC 306101-306114: Federal Agency Historic Preservation Responsibilities: Program Responsibilities and Authorities: General)

Theft of Government Property (three key sections):

UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) (19 USC 2601-2613: Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, as amended)


Archeology Subject website
Archeology Program website

Abandoned Shipwreck Act, as amended (43 USC 2101-2106)

Antiquities Act, as amended (54 USC 320301-320303: Monuments, Ruins, Sites, and Objects of Antiquity and 18 USC 1866(b): Historic, Archeologic, or Prehistoric, Items and Antiquities)

Archaeological Resources Protection Act, as amended (16 USC 470aa-mm)

Archeological and Historic Preservation Act, as amended (54 USC 312501-312508: Preservation of Historical and Archeological Data)

Curation of Federally Owned and Administered Archeological Collections (36 CFR 79)

Director's Order #28A: Archeology (2004)

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, as amended (25 USC 3001-3013)

Preservation of American Antiquities (43 CFR 3)

Sunken Military Craft Act (10 USC 113 note)


Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants (54 USC 308103)

Battlefield Restoration Grants

Battlefield Interpretation Grants

Preservation Planning Grants (54 USC 308102)

Historic Preservation Fund (54 USC 303101-303103)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Curriculum Development (54 USC 303903)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Building Restoration and Preservation (54 USC 302101 note)

Japanese American Confinement Sites Grants (54 USC 320101 note)

  • Please note: the statutory text authorizing these grants is in the process of being moved from Title 16 to Title 54. Until then, you can access the text via PL 109-441 and its amendment in PL 111-88 (Division A, Title I, Sec. 119).
  • JACS Grant Program website
  • Former citation: 16 USC 461 note (Historic Confinement Sites)

NAGPRA Grants (25 USC 3008)

National Maritime Heritage Grants (54 USC 308701-308707)

Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants

Preservation Technology and Training Grants (54 USC 305304)

Preserve America Program (54 USC 311101-311105)

Save America's Treasures Program (54 USC 308901-308905)

State Historic Preservation Office Grants (54 USC 302902)

Tribal Heritage Grants (54 USC 302906-302907)

Tribal Historic Preservation Office Grants (54 USC 302703 and 54 USC 302902(c))

Underrepresented Community Grants (PL 113-76 [pdf] and PL 113-235)

Maritime & Marine

Abandoned Shipwreck Act, as amended (43 USC 2101-2106)

Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended (16 USC 1451-1466)

National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, as amended (54 USC 305101-305106: Historic Light Station Preservation)

National Marine Sanctuaries Act, as amended (16 USC 1431-1445)

National Maritime Heritage Act, as amended (54 USC 308701-308707)

  • Former citation: 16 USC 5401-5409

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as amended (43 USC 1331-1356b)

Sunken Military Craft Act (10 USC 113 note)

Museums & Archives

Director's Order #24: NPS Museum Collections Management (2008) (pdf)

Disposal of Records (44 USC 3301-3314)

Disposition of Federal Records [Loan of Permanent and Unscheduled Records] (36 CFR 1228)

Federal Records, General (36 CFR 1220)

Management of Museum Properties (54 USC 102501-102504)

  • Former citation: 16 USC 18f

Preservation, Arrangement, Duplication, Exhibition of Records (44 USC 2109)

Records Management by Federal Agencies (44 USC 3101-3107)

Research Specimens (36 CFR 2.5)

NAGPRA & Native American Cultural Resources

American Indian Religious Freedom Act, as amended (42 USC 1996, 1996a: Protection and Preservation of Traditional Religions of Native Americans)

Bald Eagle Protection Act, as amended (16 USC 668-668d: Bald and Golden Eagles)

Embezzlement and Theft from Indian Tribal Organizations (18 USC 1163)

Endangered Species Act, as amended (16 USC 1531-1544)

Executive Order 13007: Indian Sacred Sites (1996) (pdf)

Lacey Act, as amended (16 USC 3371-3378: Control of Illegally Taken Fish and Wildlife)

Marine Mammal Protection Act, as amended (16 USC 1361-1423h)

Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as amended (16 USC 703-712)

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, as amended (25 USC 3001-3013)

National Park System

Director's Order #28: Cultural Resource Management (1998)

Director's Order #100: Resource Stewardship for the 21st Century (2016)

Mining in the National Parks Act [Section 9], as amended (54 USC 100734: Report on Finding or Notification of Potential Damage to Natural and Historical Landmarks)

  • Former citation: 16 USC 1908

National Park Service Organic Act [Section 1: Mission], as amended (moved to two sections in Title 54):

National Park Service Organic Act [Section 8: Reports on Threatened Landmarks and New Area Studies], as amended (54 USC 100507: Additional Areas for National Park System)

  • Former citation: 16 USC 1a-5

Tax Incentives

Historic Preservation Certifications (application and review processes; Standards) (36 CFR 67)

Qualified Conservation Contribution (including easements) (26 USC 170(h))

Qualified Rehabilitated Building (program eligibility, qualified expenses, and claiming the credit) (26 CFR 1.48-12)

Rehabilitation Credit (establishes the 10 and 20 percent credits) (26 USC 47)


Amtrak Improvement Act [Section 4(i)], as amended (49 USC 5561-5568: Terminals)

Department of Transportation Act [Declaration of Purpose and Section 4(f)], as amended (49 USC 303: Policy on Lands, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges, and Historic Sites)

Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, as amended, especially the following sections:

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) (PL 112-141). The Act made amendments to the following sections related to historic resources:

Last updated: April 26, 2024


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