IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Idaho State Historical Society is currently open to the public. Click here for more information.
Official Government Website

State Historic Preservation Office FAQs

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) encourages the preservation, documentation, and use of cultural resources. Idaho SHPO educates the public about the importance of Idaho’s cultural heritage. Idaho’s historic, archaeological, and cultural resources represent the physical and tangible manifestations of our history; they reflect who we were, where we came from, where we are now, and help shape our outlook for the future. 

Certified Local Government FAQ

Any city, county, parish, township, or municipality which meets the program requirements and completes application process can apply to become a CLG.

Unfortunately, no. Only cities, counties, and other subunits of government are eligible to apply to become a CLG. It is only the local government that can become a CLG, so they are the only ones who can apply. You can either approach your local government directly and ask them about applying, or you can contact our office and SHPO staff will reach out for you.

Assuming that your community already meets all of the requirements to become a CLG, it is simply a matter of getting in touch with our office and submitting a little bit of paperwork. Once the paperwork is completed and submitted to our office, SHPO staff will review it and, if complete, submit the application to the National Park Service with our recommendation. The Park Service will then complete their review and provide their response back to us. Once we have received concurrence from the Park Service, SHPO staff will notify your community and at that point, your community is declared a Certified Local Government! From the time the paperwork is submit to our office to final decision will depend on whether we or the Park Service need to request additional information from your community, but typically, if everything is in order, the turn-around period can be as little as less than a month. More information on the application process and the necessary paperwork can be found in the Idaho Certified Local Government Program Handbook, available here.

There are few, specific minimum requirements that a community has to meet before they can apply to become a CLG; the community will be expected to maintain these requirements for as long as they wish to continue to participate in the program.

  • Have a Historic Preservation Commission as established by local ordinance
    • 5-10 members appointed by governing authority, with an effort to represent specific historic preservation disciplines
    • Members must have a demonstrated interest, competence, or knowledge in historic preservation
    • Appointment terms up to 3 years; can be reappointed
    • Solicit expertise when reviewing National Register nominations (if necessary)
    • Regular professional development/training
  • Conduct a Survey and Have a System to Maintain an Inventory
  • Public Participation in the Preservation Program
  • Encourage Local Preservation Planning Efforts
  • Enforce Local and State Preservation Laws

CLGs are the only ones who can apply for CLG Grants. Other local groups and non-CLG communities are not eligible to apply.

All CLG Grant funded projects must relate to the National Register of Historic Places in some way. Typical project types include:

  • Architectural surveys (Thematic and/or Geographic)
  • Archaeological surveys
  • Preparation of National Register of Historic Places nominations
  • Design guidelines and historic context reports
  • Acquisition and Development (including “bricks-and-mortar” projects)
  • Develop community preservation plan
  • Publishing educational materials
  • Public/HPC training, education, and workshops

NO. There is no required design review component to participate in the Idaho Certified Local Government program. There are only two (2) situations related to the CLG Program which involve design review: 1. If there are Federal funds, permits, or approvals involved in a bricks-and-mortar project (e.g. Federal Tax Credits or CLG Grant funds); or 2. If the local community decides to pass a local ordinance requiring it for historic districts (e.g. local zoning code requirements).

National Register of Historic Places FAQ

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is a National Park Service (NPS) program that recognizes buildings, sites and structures important in our nation’s history, however, it also sometimes conjures up fears of regulation and concerns about private property rights. In reality, the NRHP is an honorific program, and it carries with it no restrictions whatsoever to a private property owner. There are many misconceptions about the NRHP; please read on to learn the true facts about the program.

  • Identify historic buildings/structures/sites that are of local, state, or national importance.
  • Provide formal recognition of a property’s significance.
  • Increase public awareness and appreciation for historic properties.
  • Provide archival and research documentation for historic properties.
  • Help qualify publicly- or nonprofit-owned properties for certain grant programs.
  • Restrict the rights of private property owners to change or dispose of their property in any way – up to and including demolition.
  • Automatically provide grants or low interest loans for a property.
  • Require that historic properties be restored once listed.
  • Require property owners to open their property for public visitation at any time.
  • Guarantee the preservation of historic properties.

Generally, a property must be at least 50 years old, possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and it must meet at least one of the four criteria below:

A.  The property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history (history);  or

B. The property is associated with the lives of significant persons in or past (people); or

C. The property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction (architecture); or

D. has yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory (archaeology).

Generally, a property must be at least 50 years old to be considered historic€ and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. However, properties that have clear, exceptional significance, or that are fragile or disappearing, can be recognized by National Register listing before they are 50 years old.

Anyone may nominate any property to the National Register of Historic Places; however, private property owners are given the opportunity to object to the listing of their individual property and if they do so, their property will not be listed. If a nominated property is part of an historic district, at least 50% of the owners must object or the district will be listed in its entirety.

The NRHP is largely an honorific program and it carries with it no restrictions whatsoever to a private property owner up to, and including, demolition. National Register listing only regulates the use of federal funds that may affect the property and does not impose legal requirements on the private property owner. Once your property is listed, you are free to make any alterations with private funds and do not need prior approval from our office or anyone else to do so.

Please note: Some localities in Idaho have passed local ordinances that may regulate what a property owner can do with their historic property. To find out if your property may be affected by this type of regulation, contact your community’s planning and zoning department.

  • The first step toward getting a property listed is to complete and submit a National Register Questionnaire (NRQ) to the SHPO with current photographs. The information in this questionnaire will allow SHPO staff to evaluate the property and determine whether it is likely to be eligible for the NRHP.
  • If it is determined that the property is likely eligible for listing, the SHPO will contact you and the next step would be the completion of a National Register Nomination Form.
  • Completed nominations are submitted to the Idaho SHPO, with two sets of photos and a full, original USGS Quadrangle map with the property located on it.
    SHPO staff reviews the nomination. The nomination may be sent back for revisions by the preparer if substantive changes or additions are required. SHPO staff is available to work with property owners to provide assistance and guidance in completing the form.
  • Once a completed document is in-hand, the nomination is scheduled before the next meeting of the Idaho State Historic Sites Review Board.
    30-60 days prior to the meeting, legal notices are sent to the property owner and local governments.
  • The Idaho State Historic Sites Review Board meets and either approves the nomination, rejects the nomination, or conditionally approves it pending modifications.
  • Approved nominations are sent to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places at the National Park Service, and if approved, the property is formally listed in the NRHP.

This process generally takes at least 1 year from beginning to end.

Unfortunately, there are limited financial resources available for restoration/rehabilitation work for your historic property. Although some federal grant programs exist on the books, it has been a number of years since Congress has appropriated funds for most them. Properties in Certified Local Government communities can reach out to their local Historic Preservation Commission about the CLG Grant program for help. Owners of certain income-producing properties that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places may qualify for a federal tax credit under the Federal Tax Credit Program.

Other organizations may have limited grant funds available for historic preservation projects for public- or non-profit-owned properties; check their websites for more information:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Idaho Heritage Trust

The Idaho SHPO maintains the list of National Register of Historic Places properties in the State of Idaho.

The Idaho SHPO has scanned all of it National Register nomination forms and most of them are available for download through our interactive map of Historic Places in Idaho. Contact our office to have a digital copy emailed or a hard copy mailed to you. For copies of NRHP nominations for properties located in other states, contact that state’s State Historic Preservation Office.

The National Register of Historic Places nomination form, instructions, and other NPS guidance publications can be found on the National Park Service’s website.

If you have further questions about the form or how to complete it, call (208) 334-3861 or e-mail the Idaho SHPO.

Section 106 Review Process FAQ

Section 106 Review refers to the Federal review process designed to ensure that historic properties are considered during Federal project planning and implementation. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent Federal agency, administers the review process, with assistance from State Historic Preservation Offices.

Congress established Section 106 as part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). Strengthened and expanded by several subsequent amendments, NHPA today is the cornerstone of the nation’s historic preservation policy.

Section 106 was included in NHPA due to public concern that our nation’s historic resources were being destroyed during federally sponsored projects. Before passage of NHPA, Federal preservation law applied only to a handful of nationally significant properties; Congress subsequently recognized that new legislation was needed to protect the many other historic properties that were being harmed by Federal activities.

Section 106 requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. An agency must also afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment.

The term SHPO refers to the State Historic Preservation Officer. Under Section 101(b) of NHPA, the SHPO is appointed by the Governor to administer the State Historic Preservation Program and to reflect the interests of the State and its citizens in the preservation of their cultural heritage. In Idaho, the SHPO is the Executive Director of the Idaho State Historical Society. The term SHPO is also used informally to refer to the State Historic Preservation Office. The office’s professional staff has expertise in archaeology, history, architectural history, and historic preservation. The National Park Service must approve each State program. In addition to Section 106 Review responsibilities, the SHPO also administers the National Register of Historic Places program for the State; provides grants to local governments; maintains the inventory of archaeological and historical sites and historic buildings and structures; administers the Federal tax incentives program; and provides educational and technical assistance on historic preservation issues.

The term THPO refers to the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. Under Section 101(d) of NHPA, each tribal government can designate a THPO and establish a tribal historic preservation program. Like State programs, the National Park Service must approve tribal preservation programs established under Section 101(d). If a Tribe has a THPO as defined under Section 101(d), Federal projects that take place on that Tribe’s reservation lands are reviewed only by the THPO, with no SHPO involvement. At this time theNez Perce and the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribes are Idaho’s only recognized THPOs. Contact the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the respective Tribe.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent Federal agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of our nation’s historic resources and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. In this capacity, ACHP also issues regulations (36CFR800) to implement Section 106 of NHPA and oversees the 106 Review process. If a historic property will be adversely affected, the Federal agency must notify the ACHP and seek their guidance. The twenty-member Council meets quarterly, but the ACHP’s professional staff handles the daily operations.

NHPA defines an undertaking as a project, activity, or program funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a Federal agency, including those carried out by or on behalf of the agency; those carried out with Federal financial assistance; those requiring a Federal permit, license, or approval. Types of Federal actions that are not considered undertakings include Federal social security payments, student loans, or grants to libraries for purchasing books.

Section 106 is part of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and not part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Therefore, a project that is considered a categorical exclusion under NEPA is not exempted from review under Section 106. However, projects or certain classes of undertakings can be specifically exempted from Section 106 Review through consultation and agreement with the SHPO and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

36CFR800, the regulations outlining the Section 106 Review process, defines “area of potential effects” as the geographical area within which an undertaking may directly or indirectly cause alterations in the character or use of historic properties, if any such properties exist. The Federal agency needs to assume that there is the potential for historic properties to exist until the identification step of the review process has been completed.

For purposes of Section 106, any property listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places is considered historic. This may include historic buildings or structures, archaeological and historic sites, historic districts, and objects (such as monuments). It also includes artifacts, records, and material remains related to such a property.

he National Register of Historic Places is the official national list of those properties considered important in our past and worthy of preservation. Authorized under NHPA, the National Register is a program of the National Park Service administered In Idaho by the SHPO. The list includes buildings, sites, structures, districts, and objects. Properties can be significant at the local, state, or national level. To be eligible for listing, a property must typically be at least 50 years old, meet one of the four National Register criteria, and retain integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. Traditional cultural properties, or properties with traditional cultural significance to a living community, may also be eligible for listing in the National Register.

A traditional cultural property (TCP) is a property that is significant because of its association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that are rooted in that community’s history and are important in maintaining the cultural identity of the community. To be considered in the Section 106 Review process, a TCP must be eligible for listing, or listed, in the National Register of Historic Places. National Register Bulletin 38 provides guidelines for evaluating and documenting Traditional Cultural Properties.

A National Historic Landmark is a property that has significance at the national level and is designated as such by the Secretary of the Interior. In Idaho, there are eleven National Historic Landmarks.

The National Park Service established the following criteria to determine if a property is significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture of a community. Properties eligible for listing, or listed, in the National Register are those:

A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history;
B. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in the past;
C. That embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
D. That have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

Federal agency
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
State Historic Preservation Officer
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer or Indian Tribes
Local Governments
Applicants for Federal assistance, permits, or licenses
Local historical societies
Local historic preservation commissions
The public

Under 36CFR800, the principal participants are the Federal agency and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). The ACHP, however, does not usually get involved in individual Section 106 reviews unless a historic property will be adversely affected. Most of the day-to-day consultation occurs among the Federal agency, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and other consulting parties. The SHPO provides professional recommendations and opinions, but the Federal agency makes the decisions in the review process and remains legally responsible for completing it.

Federal agencies are also required to consult with Indian Tribes throughout the process. Guidance on tribal consultation is found on the Advisory Council’s website. Other consulting parties, including local governments; local historical societies and historic preservation commissions; and applicants for Federal grants, licenses, or permits, may participate in the review process.

The four steps of the Section 106 Review process are described in the Federal regulations 36CFR800:

  1. Initiate Section 106 Review
  2. Identify historic properties within the project’s Area of Potential Effects
  3.  Assess adverse effects on historic properties
  4. Resolve adverse effects

The Federal agency involved in the proposed project or undertaking is responsible for initiating and completing the Section 106 Review process. The agency works with the SHPO, and in some cases, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Under a few Federal programs, Federal agencies have delegated the legal responsibility to comply with Section 106 to a local government. Federal agencies can also authorize applicants for Federal grants, licenses, or permits to initiate consultation with the SHPO, but the agency remains legally responsible for all findings and determinations made during the review process.

The SHPO has thirty days to comment at each step of the review process. However, if SHPO receives the appropriate information in the first project review package, many reviews are completed in only thirty days. If insufficient information for review is received, the SHPO’s response may be a request for additional information. The SHPO may also recommend additional investigations or studies that add to the overall review time. It is, therefore, required under the regulations and in the Federal agency’s best interest to initiate Section 106 Review early in project planning.

If you do not receive a response from our office within thirty (30) days, assume we have not received the project to review. We will always provide responses for a project, even if our response is “no comment”.


Monday-Friday | 8 am-5 pm

Closed State Holidays


210 Main Street
Boise, ID 83702


(208) 334-3861

ver: 3.4.0 | last updated: