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Federal and State Legislation Related to Historic Preservation

April 2024: Important updates on the SHPO Environmental Review Program.


National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (16 USC 470 et seq.) is the most comprehensive federal law pertaining to the protection of cultural resources. It created State Historic Preservation Offices in each state, established the National Register of Historic Places and created a federal-state-tribal-local partnership. Among its provisions:

  • Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effect of their activities on historic properties and to afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation the opportunity to comment on those activities. In practice, this provision is administered under regulations defined in 36 CFR 800, which require federal agencies to consult with the State/Tribal Historic Preservation Office in all undertakings. Certain projects that affect historic properties also are referred to the Advisory Council.


Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 138 designates the commissioner of the Department of Administration as the State Historic Preservation Officer (MS 138.081) and places responsibility for Minnesota's historic preservation program with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Other sections pertaining to historic and archaeological resources:

  • Minnesota Field Archaeology Act (MS 138.31-138.42) establishes the office of the State Archaeologist; requires licenses to engage in archaeology on nonfederal public land; establishes ownership, custody and use of objects and data recovered during survey; and requires state agencies to submit development plans to the State Archaeologist, SHPO, and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council for review when there are known or suspected archaeological sites in the area.
  • Minnesota Historic Sites Act (MS 138.661-138.669) establishes the State Historic Sites Network and the State Register of Historic Places and requires that state agencies consult with SHPO before undertaking or licensing projects that may affect properties on the Network or on the State or National Registers of Historic Places.

Minnesota Private Cemeteries Act, a portion of this legislation protects all human burials or skeletal remains on public or private land.

Other state laws and rules pertaining to the protection of cultural resources:

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