State Reviews

State Cultural Property Laws

The New Mexico Legislature has recognized the benefits of historic preservation and provided for the preservation of historic places through four separate State statutes. The Cultural Properties Act (Sections 18-6 through 18-6-23, NMSA 1978) was originally enacted in 1969 and amended several times in the ensuing years. It established the central principles of preservation in New Mexico: "that the historical and cultural heritage of the state is one of the state's most valued and important assets [and] that the public has an interest in the preservation of all antiquities, historic and prehistoric ruins, sites, structures [and] objects of historical significance."

The Cultural Properties Act established the Historic Preservation Division and the Cultural Properties Review Committee (CPRC); created the Historic Preservation Publications revolving fund and the Historic Preservation Loan fund. The Act authorizes the CPRC to issue permits for archaeological survey and excavation and excavation of unmarked human burials to qualified institutions with the concurrence of the state archaeologist and SHPO; and establishes civil and criminal penalties for looting of archaeological sites and disturbance of unmarked burials. The Act requires that state agencies provide the SHPO with an opportunity to participate in planning for activities that will affect properties that are on the State Register of Cultural Properties or the National Register of Historic Places.

...the historical and cultural heritage of the state is one of the state's most valued and important assets...

The Prehistoric and Historic Sites Preservation Act of 1989 (Sections 18-8-1 through 18-8-8, NMSA 1978), among other things, prohibits the use of state funds for projects or programs that would adversely affect sites on the State or National Registers unless the state agency or local government demonstrates that there is no feasible and prudent alternative and that all possible planning has been done to minimize the harm to the register site. The Division works closely with local governments, in particular, to find ways of accommodating development while still preserving the historic character of our downtowns and historic districts.

Cultural Properties Protection Act (Sections 18-6A-1 through 18-6A-6, NMSA 1978), enacted in 1993, encourages subdivisions of the state government to work with the Division to develop programs for identifying cultural properties under their jurisdiction and requires them to ensure that such properties are not inadvertently damaged or destroyed.