Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is the application of management skills to preserve important parts of our cultural heritage both historic and prehistoric, for the benefit of the public. Although it is sometimes called contract, salvage, rescue, or emergency archaeology, the main function of CRM is protection and management. The emergence of the concept of CRM in the 1970's resulted from concern about the loss of these resources and the implementation of legislation particularly the NHPA and NEPA to stem that loss.
This act requires the federal government to implement a nationwide system for identifying, protecting, and rehabilitating "historic places" (Section 106). The National Register of Historic Places was established, which protects prehistoric sites as well as historic properties. The NHPA required that each state develop its own historic preservation program headed by a state historic preservation officer (SHPO).
This act laid down a comprehensive policy for government land use planning and resource management. It requires federal agencies to weigh environmental, historical, and cultural values whenever federally owned land is modified or private land is modified with federal funds. NEPA obligates federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of projects under their jurisdiction as part of the planning process. The first step in the process results in an environmental assessment (EA). If effects are identified, then a more detailed report - an environmental impact statement (EIS) is prepared.
This act amended the Antiquities Act of 1906 and was passed in response to increasing looting of cultural resources to feed a growing antiquities market. ARPA made it a felony to remove archaeological materials from federal land without a permit.
This act (1990) gives lineal descendants and members of Indian tribes the right to certain Native American human remains and to cultural items with which the human remains are affiliated. It controls or prohibits the inadvertent discovery or intentional excavation of Native American human remains or cultural items on federal or tribal lands. It requires that each federal agency or museum receiving federal funds that possesses human remains or funerary objects of Native American cultural patrimony provide an inventory or summary of the collections to the lineal descendants who may wish to request repatriation of such objects.
The purpose of the State Historic Preservation Act (1980) is to continue and advance the State's historic preservation programs and activities, to continue the responsibility for the coordination of such programs and activities with the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to foster consistency of State activities with historic preservation policy, to encourage and assist local governments in local preservation programs and activities, and to encourage and assist private agencies and individuals undertaking preservation by private means.