Historic preservation planning is the management of resources to achieve long-range goals. Whether it is an effort to protect one specific historic building, or try to evaluate the importance of a wide range of historic properties in a large geographic region, or any number of other broad history-related questions – these and more are issues that planning tries to address.
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is responsible for developing a comprehensive long-term historic preservation plan for the state. This plan, “A View to the Future,” has been a guideline for SHPO activities for many years and has been approved by the National Park Service (NPS). It also serves as a general guide for local governments, historical societies, and individuals interested in Idaho’s historic places and history.
The major components of Idaho’s historic preservation plan, “A View to the Future,” are: SHPO Program Overview; Idaho's Cultural Resources and the Trends Affecting Them; Development of the Comprehensive Plan; and Goals and Objectives.
One of the most important components of the overall historic preservation planning process is the development of “historic contexts.” A context is a body of knowledge in the form of one or more written documents which is defined by three elements: a theme, a time period, and a geographic region. These three items must be clearly understood before any property can be properly and accurately evaluated for its historic significance. In other words, to understand why a site is significant to our history, we must be able to identify how a property reflects the history for which it may or may not be important – the “what, when, and where” of its existence and how it compares with other similar properties. This is a large task, and one of the SHPO’s primary long-term responsibilities is to continue its program of developing historic contexts for statewide use and encouraging others to prepare such contexts.
Another use of the statewide plan is to identify the long-term needs of the State in terms of goals, objectives, and priorities. This serves as a guidepost not only for the SHPO but anyone interested in conducting historic preservation activities in Idaho – what are the most important things we can be studying and identifying with our limited resources? What properties are disappearing the fastest? Can we (or even should we) do anything to slow that down? Preservation planning helps establish policy, helps coordinate disconnected activities by various entities, and helps set direction for those interested in Idaho’s history and its historic properties.
The Idaho SHPO places a very high value on the input of the state’s citizens in helping to identify the long-term goals, objectives, and priorities of historic preservation in Idaho. Public input is critical to a successful plan. We invite you to read “A View to the Future” and to send us your comments, ideas, and suggestions at any time.
For more information or assistance call (208) 334-3847 or e-mail.