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Laws, Rules and Regulations
A number of federal and state laws protect archaeological sites and cultural resources in Oregon. Links to the laws and regulations are listed by subject and divided by state and federal laws.

Native American Graves and Protected Objects

State Laws
Federal Laws
Cultural Resource Management

State Laws
  • Archaeological Objects and Sites (ORS 358.905-358.961) - law provides definitions of archaeological sites, 75 years of age or older, significance, cultural patrimony; prohibits the sale and exchange of cultural items; or damage to archaeological sites on public and private lands. Items of cultural patrimony or associated with human remains are protected everywhere, unless the activity is authorized by an archaeological excavation permit.
  • Scenic Waterways (ORS 390.805-390.925) - establishes a state policy that protects historic and archaeological sites that are located adjacent to designated scenic waterways (i.e., rivers or lakes) from destruction due to the building of dams, construction, mining, etc.
  • Conservation Easement (ORS 271.715-271.795) - permits agencies to help in protecting lands with special natural or cultural features and provides tax incentives to private land owners who agree to restrict their use of such lands.
Federal Laws
  • Antiquities Act of 1906 - established protection over any "historic ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity situated on government lands…" required permits for their removal. The Secretary of the Interior was charged with this responsibility.
  • National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended through 2000 -authorized the Secretary of the Interior to expand and maintain a National Register, established and defined the responsibilities of the State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation (ACHP), and pledged federal assistance to preservation efforts of state and local groups.
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended through 2000, requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their activities and programs on historic properties. When a federal agency funds, licenses, or permits an activity that may affect cultural resources, the agency must consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in cooperation with the ACHP in Washington, D.C. to comply with Section 106 of the NHPA.
  • National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 - requires federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements for each federal action having an effect on the environment, and part of the legislation includes that "it is the continuing responsibility of the federal government to use all practicable means… to preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage."
  • Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment of 1971 (Ex. O. 11593) - charged federal agencies with the responsibility to survey all federal lands and nominate properties to the National Register. It required the Secretary of the Interior to advise other federal agencies in matters pertaining to the identification and evaluation of historic properties located on lands in their jurisdictions.
  • Archeological and Historical Preservation Act of 1974 (AHPA) - amended the Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960, which provided for the recovery and preservation of historical and archeological data (including relics and specimens) that might be lost or destroyed in the construction of dams and reservoirs. The AHPA gave the Secretary of the Interior the responsibility for coordinating and administering a nationwide program for recovery, protection and preservation of scientific, prehistoric, and historic data.
  • American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 - protects and preserves for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.
  • Indian Sacred Sites (Executive Order No. 13007)- enacted in 1996, this law, in order to protect and preserve Indian religious practices, orders agencies managing Federal lands to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners and avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.  Where appropriate, the agency is to maintain the confidentiality of sacred sites.
Archaeological Excavation Permits

State Laws
Federal Laws
  • Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979 - established the permit process on public and Native American lands; provided criminal and civil penalties for looting or damaging sites that are 100 years or older on public and tribal lands.
Historic Preservation Planning

State Laws
  • State Historic Preservation Plan (ORS 358.605-358.622) - established the SHPO as the administrative agency designated to carry out the state´s policies on the identification, preservation, and management of culturally significant structures, sites, and objects within the state. Among other tasks, this plan authorized the state to conduct a comprehensive, statewide survey to identify all properties (i.e., districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects) that are potentially significant to Oregon history and to maintain a statewide inventory of historic properties.
  • State Land Use Planning Law- Goal 5 (OAR 660-023-0200) - encourages local governments and state agencies to develop and maintain inventories of local historical resources and adopt programs that will protect historic resources for present and future generations. Goal 5 also encourages local governments to adopt a historic preservation plan and complimentary ordinances. In developing local historic preservation programs, local governments should follow the recommendations as outlined in the Secretary of the Interior´s Standards and Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation.