Overview of Preservation Legislation
With passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 (NHPA), Congress made the Federal Government a full partner and a leader in historic preservation. While Congress recognized that national goals for historic preservation could best be achieved by supporting the drive, enthusiasm, and wishes of local citizens and communities, it understood that the Federal Government must set an example through enlightened policies and practices.
National Historic Preservation Act
In the words of the Act, the Federal Government's role would be to "provide leadership" for preservation, "contribute to" and "give maximum encouragement" to preservation, and "foster conditions under which our modern society and our prehistoric and historic resources can exist in productive harmony."
Indeed, an underlying motivation in passage of the Act was to transform the Federal Government from an agent of indifference, frequently responsible for needless loss of historic resources, to a facilitator, an agent of thoughtful change, and a responsible steward for future generations.