PRESERVATION Action--a national citizens' lobby operating in Washington--is one of 18 preservation groups, individuals and buildings receiving the National Trust for Historic Preservation awards this year. Preservation Action helped push passage of the National Historic Preservation Act amendments in 1980.

Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) received a commendation for his leadership in the passage of significant federal tax benefits for preservation.

Frederick, Md., Mayor Ronald Nelson Young received a certificate for leading Frederick in "preservation, restoration and revitalization of central business district and residential neighborhoods."

The Louise DuPont Crowninshield Award for preservation activism went to Helen Abell of Louisville, Ky. Abell, a director of the Historic Houses Association of America, was cited for her national, state and local preservation fund-raising.

The Arcade in Providence, R.I., won an award for the renovation of the 1828 indoor shopping mall, the first in this country.

Historian and rural preservationist George Bauman of Dandridge, Tenn., received an award for the restoration of the Jefferson County collections and records as well as his work with the courthouse.

Other awards went to: 92-year-old Dr. G. Edwin Brumbaugh, F.A.I.A. of Gwynedd Valley, Pa., for more than 60 years of preservation architecture; Restoration College Association of Mt. Carroll, Ill., for its Campbell Center for Historic Preservation; California State Capitol Restoration Project of Sacramento, Calif., for restoration of the capitol and strengthening it against earthquakes; University of Chicago, Office of Physical Planning & Construction, for preservation of campus architecture; the City of Davenport, Iowa, for historic preservation planning and city projects; East Brother Light Station Inc. of Point Richmond, Calif., for restoration of an island lighthouse; Rudy Favretti of Storrs, Conn., for preservation of historic landscapes; Dr. Roger Gerry of Roslyn, N.Y., for restoring a village as a "rural enclave amidst urban sprawl"; historian George W. McDaniel of Memphis, Tenn., for his book, "Hearth & Home: Preserving a People's Culture"; the Massachusetts Executive Office of Communities and Development for a school building reuse project in Boston; the Moody Foundation of Galveston, Tex., for a decade of financial support for historic preservation in Texas; Allen Stovall of White County Valley, Ga., for his rural preservation study for the Sautee and Nacooshee valleys, threatened by tourism growth; the Roy Swayzes of Eutau, Ala., for the preservation of Kirkwood mansion; Dr. Roger Thompson and the New York State Chamber Restoration Project for restoration of lobby and state senate chambers; and Utah Preservation/Restoration Magazine for a ''superior annual preservation publication.''

Commendations went to: Gov. James Thompston of Springfield, Ill., for restoration of a Frank Lloyd Wright house; Mayor Helen Boosalis of Lincoln, Neb., for a 1980 city preservation ordinance; County Judge/Executive Mitch McConnell of Jefferson County, Ky., for statewide historic preservation legislation; Mayor Hernan Padilla of San Juan, Puerto Rico, for maintaining Old San Juan; and the government of Guam for restoration.

The awards were scheduled to be presented by First Lady Nancy Reagan last Friday at the National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual membership meeting in Washington. The awards program is made possible by a Rust-Oleum Corp. grant.