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National Historic Preservation Act

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) directs federal agencies to take into account the effect of any undertaking (a federally funded or assisted project) on historic properties. "Historic property" is any district, building, structure, site, or object that is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places because the property is significant at the national, state, or local level in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture. Typically, a historic property must be at least 50 years old and retain integrity.

Read the Text of National Historic Preservation Act, 1966 (amended 2000)

Summary of Requirements

Section 106 of the NHPA requires that, before approving or carrying out a federal, federally assisted, or federally licensed undertaking, federal agencies to take into consideration the impact that the action may have on historic properties. Section 106 also requires that federal agencies provide the Council with the opportunity to comment on the undertaking.

FEMA, in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)/ Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) and other consulting parties, must identify historic properties that may be affected by the proposed project and assess adverse effects of the actions. FEMA must then obtain concurrence from the SHPO/THPO on the eligibility of the identified historic properties and the effects on them. If there are adverse effects, FEMA, in cooperation with the Subgrantee and Grantee, consults with the SHPO/THPO and other consulting parties on ways to avoid or treat adverse effects to historic properties and develops a project-specific Memorandum of Agreement with the SHPO/THPO that outlines the agreed-upon treatment measures.

Responsibility for compliance with NHPA lies with the federal agency funding the project or action, which in this case is FEMA. However, there may be programmatic agreements executed for certain disasters or in specific states that substitute a more streamlined review process in place of Section 106. In any case, Subgrantees and Grantees assist FEMA in carrying out responsibilities under the Act, as appropriate.