The most comprehensive national policy on historic preservation was established by Congress with the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. In this act, historic preservation is defined to include "the protection, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, or culture." The act led to the creation of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), a listing of cultural resources of national, regional, state, and local significance.
The major provisions of the NHPA that affect FEMA are Sections 106 and 110. Both sections aim to ensure that historic properties are appropriately considered in planning federal initiatives and actions. Section 106 is a specific mandate to which federal agencies must adhere when carrying out their programs and activities. Section 110, in contrast, sets out broad federal agency responsibilities with respect to historic properties and emphasizes ongoing management of historic properties.
Section 106 requires that any federal agency having direct or indirect jurisdiction over a proposed federal or federally assisted undertaking in any state "take into account" the effect of the undertaking on historic and archaeological properties. Historic properties may include any district, building, structure, site, or object, typically 50 years in age or older. These properties may be eligible for listing in the NRHP if they possess significance at the national, tribal, state, or local level in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture. Section 106 also mandates consultation during such federal actions. Consultation agencies could include among others; a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), an appropriate Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), local and national preservation organizations, and the general public.