Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission amends and adopts rules for state administration of National Register program

Salem, Ore — The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission amended and adopted state rules at its regular June 23 meeting to implement the Federal National Register of Historic Places program, administered by the National Park Service. The National Register is the nation’s official list of properties important to the history of the country, and rules are used by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) within the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to administer the program.

The Commission opened the rulemaking process in June 2020, partially in response to controversial nominations that highlighted gaps in formal state rules for processing nominations before submitting them to the National Park Service for final decisions.

The public comment period lasted from July 1 to October 15, 2020 and resulted in 109 written comments and oral testimony at the three public hearings, including comments from Oregon Native American Tribes, federal and state agencies, local governments, advocacy organizations, and the general public. The revised rules align state processes with federal law, regulation, and guidance, establish the manner to accurately count owners and objections, and clarify administrative processes, such as public notice, participation, and hearing procedures. The rules are effective once filed with the Oregon Secretary of State, expected by Monday, June 28.

Different parts of the amended rules will affect both new nominations and new work on existing nominations being prepared for submission to the National Park Service. For example, the amended rules clarify the counting of owners and objections for the Eastmoreland Historic District, first reviewed by the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation in February 2017. The process stalled because of legal challenges and questions surrounding establishing owner consent under federal law. The SHPO expects to implement the rule as soon as it is effective and to resubmit the Eastmoreland nomination document to the National Park Service for consideration after re-reviewing it and notarized objection statements. A district may not be listed in the National Register if the majority of owners object to the nomination by submitting a notarized objection statement. The agency cannot provide a timeline for this nomination due to the complexity of the process, and staff and budget reductions in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Materials provided to the Commission on June 23 are available on the agency website: https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/CAC/Pages/CAC-oprc.aspx.

A record of the public comment process is available on the agency website: https://bit.ly/3gVs4n4.