The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Shaping National Preservation Policy

Federal Stewardship

The ACHP has advanced the integration of historic preservation into federal agency programs, and worked to improve the federal government’s stewardship of the nation’s historic and cultural assets on publicly owned lands and facilities.

Consistent with their missions and operations, agencies are directed to be caretakers of the portions of America’s cultural patrimony under their management or control.  The NHPA was amended in 1980 and 1992) to have federal agencies take specific steps to integrate historic preservation into their policies and programs, including carrying out their own historic property identification, evaluation, and protection strategies and appointing agency preservation officers. The 1980 amendments also added a specific ACHP responsibility to review federal agency policies and programs and recommend “methods to improve the effectiveness, coordination, and consistency of those policies and programs with the policies and programs carried out under this Act.” For public land areas, facilities, or resource management programs carried out by federal agencies like military installation operations or range management, programmatic agreements negotiated through Section 106 have attempted to tailor historic and cultural resource management strategies to agency operational needs. The ACHP has also worked to promote federal agency stewardship  through government-wide reviews and assessments and through specifically focused training, guidance, tailored procedures, program “audits,” and other actions.

Focused work with specific agencies  efforts began with an interagency agreement with the Department of the Army in the late 1980s, which led to the development of Army historic preservation procedures and cultural resource management plans for installations. Interagency agreements were subsequently developed with other federal departments and bureaus. In 2000, the ACHP prepared a special report on federal cultural stewardship on public lands and other federally controlled property (amounting to nearly one-third of the country). Then in 2003, under a presidential executive order, the ACHP was given new programmatic responsibilities: evaluating the state of federal historic property stewardship and determining how those holdings are contributing to local economic needs. This began a series of triennial ACHP reports to the president on federal historic property management.

Want to explore this topic further? Check out these original documents and interviews with key players from the ACHP archive!


Tom King

The existence of the Section 106 process, and the ACHP’s occasional efforts to make it meaningful, have helped keep federal agencies on their toes, and this has doubtless contributed to ‘stewardship.’ After President Nixon issued Executive Order 11593, the ACHP did a pretty decent job of pushing federal land management agencies to staff up and develop systems to ‘steward’ historic properties under their care, though it was NPS, in one of its very rare shows of initiative, that really pushed Executive Order implementation.”

“I’m not sure the ACHP has helped the government become a better steward, and I’m also not sure that’s among its logical purposes. It’s the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, not for Historic Preservation.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

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