The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended, requires that federal agencies take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. In addition to direct actions of the federal government, federal undertakings are projects involving a permit or license, funding, or other assistance or approval from a federal agency. Section 106 of the NHPA and its implementing regulations at 36 CFR Part 800 lay out review procedures that ensure historic properties are considered in federal planning processes.

A few examples of projects that require compliance with this law include:

  • Federal development activities, such as reservoirs built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or built by others, but requiring a permit from the Corps of Engineers
  • Construction of municipal wastewater treatment facilities that require permits from the Environmental Protection Agency or Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
  • New highway construction by the Texas Department of Transportation that utilizes federal funds
  • Local government projects to rehabilitate or demolish housing, using funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Projects involving state or local public land will also require review under the Antiquities Code of Texas.

History of the NHPA

As massive government-sponsored construction projects, such as the interstate highway system and urban renewal in older cities, became commonplace after World War II, an estimated 25 percent of the nation’s finest historic sites were lost. In response to growing public concern, Congress passed the NHPA in 1966 (54 U.S.C. 300101 et seq.). The law established a national policy for the protection of important historic buildings and archeological sites, and outlined responsibilities for federal and state governments to preserve our nation's heritage.