CRA is routinely called upon by state and federal agencies and project applicants to complete the physical and archival investigations associated with the Section 106 Review process and other similar processes. These investigations result in professional reports that provide reviewing agencies and consulting parties with the data required to make informed decisions regarding potential impacts to the archaeological and historic built environments.
Scopes of work may be developed by state or federal agencies, or by the project applicant. CRA is also frequently called upon by these project sponsors to develop scopes of work. Factors include project specifications, experience with similar projects, and a proposed area of potential effect (APE). Resources located within this APE become the focus of our investigations.
The scope of the regulatory review process is often influenced by the nature of the project and its potential to directly or indirectly affect the historic and/or pre-historic environment. CRA understands these differences and routinely consults with reviewing agencies and clients to reach concurrence between them regarding appropriate resolutions.
The National Historic Preservation Act
In the post WWII boom years (1945-1959) nationwide urban renewal initiatives and road building campaigns resulted in staggering losses to the nation’s archaeological resources and historic built environment. The National Historic Preservation Act was enacted in 1966 to protect the nation’s historical resources from mounting development and expansion pressures by establishing a comprehensive national historic preservation policy. Until this time, preservation efforts were largely limited to grass-roots mobilization efforts.
“It shall be the policy of the Federal Government to foster conditions under which our modern society and our prehistoric and historic resources can exist in productive harmony and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
Section 106 Review: Basics
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
- Requires all federal agencies to “take into account” the effects of their “undertakings” on places listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places
- Requires the agencies to give the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) an opportunity to “comment” on those effects
- The Section 106 process seeks to accommodate historic preservation concerns with the needs of Federal undertakings.
- Section 106 does not mandate an outcome and does not guarantee the preservation of National Register listed or eligible sites. It does mandate that a balance be sought between project activities and the historic environment.
How does Section 106 take place?
- Federal agencies carry out a consultation among the responsible agency officials and other consulting parties with an interest in the effects of the undertaking on historic properties.
- The goal of consultation is to identify historic properties potentially affected by the undertaking, assess the effects of the undertaking, and seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties.
The National Register of Historic Places
- “Historic” properties are those that are listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register, which is maintained by the National Park Service, is the nation’s official list of historic and prehistoric places that are considered significant to local, state, or national history.
- Properties can include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are
- significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or culture
- generally at least 50 years old
- meet one or more of the criterion established by the National Register for significance
- National Historic Landmarks – Properties of exceptional historic significance nationally (less than 2500 sites in the country maintain this level of significance)
- While more than 79,000 properties have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1966, many significant properties have yet to be documented or discovered. An “eligible” historic property is one that meets the National Register threshold for significance but has not yet been formally recognized by the National Park Service.
- Field surveys will substantiate existing information and document newly discovered properties. Recommendations are then made regarding significance/eligibility.
National Register Criteria for Establishing Significance
- Criteria A: Associations with Significant Events
- Criteria B: Associations with Significant People
- Criteria C: Architectural Significance
- Criteria D: Data Potential
Newly discovered and previously listed historic properties must also maintain historic integrity to be considered significant. Seven aspects of integrity are identified by the National Register. All do not have to be met, though, for a property to be considered significant. The seven aspects include
- Feeling, and
Role of the Federal Agency: Responsibilities
- Primary responsibilities of Section 106 rest on the identified Federal Agency. If impacts to historic resources could occur as a result of an agency’s financial support, licensing, or approval of a project, then the Section 106 Process must be initiated.
- Responsible for ensuring that actions carried out under Section 106 meet professional standards
Role of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: Responsibilities
- Independent Federal Agency created by the NHPA
- Advises the President and Congress on Historic Preservation Matters
- Oversees the Section 106 Review process (36CFR Part 800)
- Reviews federal agency historic preservation programs and policies
- Encourages public interest and participation in preservation
- May take part in project reviews, but typically the review process can conclude without council participation
- council may focus their involvement on more complex projects
- may choose to enter process when necessary to ensure purposes of Section 106 and NHPA are met
- may provide guidance or advisory opinion upon request
Role of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO): Responsibilities
- Reflects the interests of the State and its citizens in the preservation of their cultural heritage
- Advises and assists federal agencies in carrying out their Section 106 responsibilities
- Works with other consulting parties to ensure that historic properties are taken into consideration in all levels of planning and development
Role of Consulting Parties
The views of the public are important to the Section 106 Review Process. Consulting parties can provide new perspectives, offer historic information that may not otherwise be readily available, express local concerns/issues, and can suggest worthwhile mitigation options.
NEPA and Section 106 Review (800.8)
- Agencies should consider their Section 106 responsibilities as early as possible in the NEPA process, and plan their public participation, analysis, and review in such a way that they can meet the purposes and requirements of both statutes in a timely and efficient manner.
- The determination of whether an undertaking is a “major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” and therefore requires preparation of an EIS under NEPA, should include consideration of the undertaking’s likely effects on historic properties.
- The preparation of an EA-FONSI or an EIS-ROD should include appropriate scoping, identification of historic properties, assessment of effects upon them, and consultation leading to the resolution of any adverse effects.
- Consulting parties in the Section 106 process are also “public participants” and should be included in the NEPA process as such.
- Projects that are categorically excluded from NEPA review are not necessarily excluded from the Section 106 Review process.
For additional information about compliance and cultural resource laws and regulations we suggest you visit these websites:
- Protecting Historic Properties: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO SECTION 106 REVIEW (PDF)
- Antiquities Act of 1906
- National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended)
- 36 CFR Part 61
- Federal Cultural Resource Laws and Regulations
- National Park Service History & Culture: Rules and Regulations
- Federal Highway Administration Environmental Guidebook