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Certified Local Government


Fifty years ago the National Historic Preservation Act was created to help preserve the diverse archaeological and architectural treasures of America. To help prevent the loss of historical structures, and to recognize the important role of local participation in preservation, amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act established the Certified Local Government program or CLG’s in 1980. The program's purpose is to expand the existing Federal-State preservation partnership to include local governments and citizens. The program is intended to give local governments a formal role in the national historic preservation program, and, in particular, the National Register nomination process. And on this date in 1989, the first Certified Local Government body in North Dakota was approved for Walsh County.

The program has been particularly effective for identifying rural landmarks to be recognized and preserved. A county-wide CLG enables several communities to work together to identify properties that contribute to the county’s history. As a participant, the CLG members gain greater control of local preservation efforts. They participate directly in the National Register nomination process and obtain access to the expertise, assistance and resource management found in historic preservation programs, and the all-important federal funding. The National Historic Preservation Act requires state historic preservation programs to sub-grant at least 10 percent of the state's annual appropriation to support preservation efforts by local governments in the CLG program.

While Walsh County became the first Certified Local Government unit in North Dakota, it was soon followed by the cities of Grand Forks and Devils Lake in 1990. Fargo established a CLG in 1992, Buffalo in 2001, and Dickinson and Pembina County in 2003.

Participants in the program must pass an ordinance committing the local government to develop and maintain an historic preservation program. It must appoint a five-member Historic Preservation Commission and establish a set of management policies, rules and procedures consistent with the professional principles of historic preservation – standards approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

Historic structures help provide an appreciation of the past and a sense of community. Through their in-depth knowledge of the community, the members of Certified Local Government units can ensure that these links to the past can be preserved.

Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis

Source: Certified Local Grant Program, State Historical Society of North Dakota, 2007