The Certified Local Government (CLG) program is a preservation partnership between local, state, and national governments focused on promoting historic preservation at the local level. The program is jointly administered by the National Park Service (NPS) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Through this program, local units of government are empowered to shape the future of the historic fabric of their communities and provided an incentive to build strong preservation programs in partnership with NPS and SHPO, which provide technical assistance and funding support for local efforts.
Any community in Michigan can become a CLG--a county, township, city, or village. A local unit of government that wishes to become a CLG follows a certification process through which it works with SHPO to outline a plan for achieving its preservation goals. Once certified as a CLG, a community gains special access to technical assistance, funding opportunities, and other benefits.
Interested in the CLG Program?
Review SHPO's CLG Program Handbook for a full discussion of the program, benefits, and requirements for participating communities.
CLG status is a point of pride. It ensures the community’s participation in the national historic preservation program and demonstrates that the community is committed to preservation as part of its planning and development activities. The CLG program also provides a platform for strong local preservation programs and provides participating communities with access to exclusive benefits and tools, including eligibility for grant funding.
Rooted in best practice approaches, the CLG program gives credibility to local preservation activities, their relationship to broader planning processes, and their role in sustaining vibrant, culturally rich communities. The program also promotes preservation activities consistent with national and state legislation and standards, which encourage responsible decision-making for the treatment of important historic resources in the community.
While SHPO assists all communities, CLGs receive dedicated and prioritized assistance from SHPO’s CLG Coordinator, who works closely with CLGs as they plan for, build, and engage local preservation programs. In addition to providing ongoing technical support, SHPO’s CLG Coordinator regularly visits communities to have on-the-ground discussions about local preservation strategies; provides feedback on particular issues a community may be facing; and develops special initiatives to help communities move their preservation programs forward. The CLG Coordinator also works with other SHPO staff to coordinate activities that can help CLGs meet their preservation goals. Such assistance includes but is not limited to:
Survey Planning: Identifying and documenting places that are important to the history of the community are the foundation for many preservation activities; however, the process of planning a survey to identify such sites can often seem intimidating. SHPO’s Survey Coordinator works closely with CLGs on best practice approaches to surveys, with the goal of identifying strategies that are both achievable and meaningful. CLGs may request a visit from the Survey Coordinator to discuss project goals, areas of interest, and potential approaches to survey in consideration of the community’s capacity and resources.
Building Consultations: Communities sometimes struggle with underutilized downtown buildings, vacant industrial complexes, and other such “problem” properties. CLGs may request an on-site meeting with one of SHPO’s historical architects to get feedback on such a property with the goal of moving discussion forward with local stakeholders. The architect will complete a quick assessment of the property and discuss conditions, ideas for redevelopment, and potential problems. They will also provide a brief post-site visit report and give advice about applying for a CLG grant for a feasibility study or other investigation.
Archaeological Advice:Communities may hear rumors of a potential archaeological site or be concerned about a potential threat facing a known site and be unsure of how best to proceed. CLGs may request a visit from a SHPO archaeologist to discuss how to determine validity and the steps needed to locally designate a site to protect it. SHPO archaeologists can also provide advice on public interpretation of prehistory and archaeological heritage through exhibits, signage, and events. They can also help find tribal partners and other experts to get projects done appropriately.
One of the greatest benefits of becoming a CLG is that participating communities in good standing are eligible to apply for grant funding set aside exclusively for CLGs. Every year, SHPO provides at least 10% of its annual funding received from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) directly to CLGs through grants for local preservation projects. Since these are pass-through grants, non-profits (e.g., historical societies, heritage sites, etc.) in a CLG community can also apply for the grants in partnership with the local government.
Grant funds have been used across Michigan to jumpstart or supplement local preservation activities and often serve as a catalyst for additional investment. HPF grants are provided for two categories of projects:
Additional information on the CLG grant program is available here.
NOTE: In addition to the annual CLG grants, there are sometimes additional federal monies available to CLGs.
CLGs have access to a host of training materials and can participate in workshops, regional roundtables, webinars, and other community outreach initiatives designed for CLG staff, elected officials, and HDC members. CLGs can also request one-on-one discussions with SHPO’s CLG Coordinator to discuss local preservation strategies, to request feedback on particular issues the community may be facing, or to provide the HDC and its staff with training on issues related to design review and administration of local historic districts.
To participate in the CLG program, a local unit of government must agree to meet the standards set forth by the National Park Service and the guidelines in SHPO's CLG Program Handbook. At a basic level, CLGs agree to:
If so, the CLG program may be a good fit for your community. Start by reviewing SHPO's CLG Program Handbook and reaching out to the CLG Coordinator, who can meet with local stakeholders to discuss the program and ways it might be beneficial to the community.