by Helen Erickson, Associate ASLA
At the beginning of March, the Federal Register announced that the Department of the Interior is proposing changes to the rules that govern the nomination of properties to the National Register of Historic Places. While the changes claim to “implement the 2016 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act,” they reach far beyond the intent of that legislation in limiting the existing public process and other safeguards for historic landscapes.
Three aspects of the proposed rules are of special concern:
- It would give more weight to the objections of larger property owners over the weight of a simple majority of property owners in objecting to listing historic districts. This would in turn have an unfair negative impact on those owners of smaller historic properties who would not be eligible for the historic property tax advantage.
- It would give Federal agencies unilateral control in determining what properties are eligible for the National Register by eliminating the role of the Keeper of the National Register in Section 106 consultations.
- It would permit a Federal agency to eliminate consultation with State Historic Preservation Offices and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices if so desired.
These changes will negatively impact landscape professionals who work in the area of historic preservation.
Helen Erickson, ASLA, is a member of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Subcommittee of ASLA’s Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN).