Introduction

Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes (1996) provide guidance to cultural landscape owners, stewards and managers, landscape architects, preservation planners, architects, engineers, contractors and project reviewers in the planning and implementation of treatment projects. The Guidelines illustrate how to apply the four treatments of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction to cultural landscapes in way that meets the Standards.

The Guidelines themselves are easily understood, but the many treatment project examples illustrated throughout the document are considerably outdated, with images dating back to the circulation of the draft document in 1992. The Guidelines identify important considerations under each treatment for accessibility, health and safety, environmental protection and energy efficiency, but do not incorporate the larger concepts of sustainability or response to climate change. The Guidelines are in need of updating, to illustrate contemporary examples of treatment and to incorporate the important stewardship considerations of sustainability and response to climate change.

Project Overview

As part of the Director’s Call to Action, the National Park Service is conducting a comprehensive review of the guidance it provides to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, with the goal of updating the guidance where necessary to accommodate new methods and approaches, and to incorporate the lessons learned since the Standards and initial guidance were first published.

Background

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for establishing professional standards and providing advice on the preservation of cultural resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. In partial fulfillment of this responsibility, the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation Projects were developed in 1976. They consisted of seven sets of standards for the acquisition, protection, stabilization, preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction of historic buildings.

Since their publication in 1976, the Secretary’s Standards have been used by State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service to ensure that projects receiving federal funding or tax benefits were reviewed in a consistent manner nationwide. The principles embodied in the Standards have also been adopted by hundreds of preservation commissions across the country in local design guidelines.

In 1992, the Standards were revised to be applied to all property types included in the National Register – building, structures, objects, sites and districts. Cultural landscapes are listed in the National Register as sites or districts. The revised Standards were reduced to four sets by incorporating protection and stabilization into preservation, and by eliminating acquisition as a treatment. Re-titled The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, the revised Standards were codified as 36 CFR Part 68 with an effective date of August 11, 1995. The Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes were published in 1996.

Timeline

It is estimated that updating of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes will require a public comment and suggestion period of six to eight months and another six months to incorporate them. We will begin with a set of meetings with Federal Preservation Officers (FPOs) , SHPOs and other partner organizations in Fall 2012. We also intend to present the proposals at various professional meetings to encourage comment and suggestion. Finally, this web page will be updated regularly and will be available to the public for logging comments and suggestions.