What is Section 106 project review?
Section 106 review is the process of assisting federal and state agencies and their applicants in determining whether or not their projects will affect significant historic properties. This process allows for consideration of alternatives that may avoid or reduce any potential effect while the projects are still in the planning stages.
The review process is administered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, with assistance from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
The process is based on two principles:
- Decisions should be based on full knowledge of all relevant information.
- Decisions should consider all interests. Public comment is an important part of the Section 106 process. For more details, check out the Citizens’ Guide to Section 106 Review. 36 CFR § 800.1(a)
Who established Section 106 review?
The Congress did, as part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). NHPA, strengthened and expanded by several subsequent amendments, today has become the cornerstone of this country's historic preservation policy.
Why was Section 106 created?
NHPA was enacted because of public concern that so many of our nation's historic resources were not receiving adequate attention as the government sponsored much needed public works projects. In the 1960s, federal preservation law applied only to a handful of nationally significant properties, and Congress recognized that new legislation was needed to protect the many other historic properties that were being harmed by federal activities. 36 CFR § 800.1(a)
Who are the key players in the Section 106 review process?
- Federal Agency
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
- Consulting Parties
- State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
- Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO)
- Native American tribes and organizations
- Local Government
- Organizations and individuals
- National Park Service
- The Public 36 CFR § 800.2
Who initiates Section 106 project review?
The federal agency involved in the proposed project or activity is responsible for initiating and completing the Section 106 review process. Under certain circumstances, local governmental bodies or project proponents may act as the responsible agency. The agency works with the State Historic Preservation Officer (an official appointed in each state or territory to administer the national historic preservation program) and the Advisory Council to do so. There can be other participants in the Section 106 process as well. At times, local governments, representatives of Indian tribes, applicants for federal grants, licenses, or permits, the public, and others may join in the review process when it affects their interests or activities. 36 CFR § 800.3
What is the role of the Division of Historical Resources (DHR) in the Section 106 review process?
The DHR is charged with representing New Hampshire’s interest in protecting the State’s significant historic, architectural, archaeological, and cultural resources. The division’s role as SHPO in project review is advisory and consultative, relying on practices established by federal and state law, and on the body of information gathered through DHR’s ongoing survey. 36 CFR § 800.2(C)(1)
What are the responsibilities of the federal agency?
Although federal agencies are responsible for completion of all steps of the Section 106 process, certain federal agencies transfer some of these responsibilities to others. For example, applicants for federal financial assistance or for federal permits may be required to provide information about the project directly to the SHPO and to complete the step of identification in consultation with the SHPO. 36 CFR § 800.2(a)
What is a federal "undertaking"?
Pursuant to the October 1992 Amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act, an "undertaking" means a project, activity, or program funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a federal agency, including (A) those carried out by or on behalf of the agency; (B) those carried out with federal financial assistance; (C) those requiring a federal permit, license, or approval; and (D) those subject to state or local regulation administered pursuant to a delegation or approval by a federal agency. 36 CFR § 800.16(y)
When should I start the Section 106 review process?
You should start the process as early as possible in the project planning process. Section 106 review should proceed before other environmental reviews in order to prevent project delays. 36 CFR § 800.1(c)
How do I start the Section 106 review process?
To initiate Section 106 review in New Hampshire, submit a completed Request for Project Review form (RPR) to the DHR. The RPR must be submitted by mail (project submissions will not be accepted via facsimile or e-mail). The DHR submits its comments to project proponents in writing, not by telephone or e-mail.
Who can complete a Request for Project Review form (RPR)?
The RPR must be completed by the project proponent or appointed agent.
How do I get a Request for Project Review form?
The RPR and instructions for completing the form can be downloaded from the DHR website here:
How can I access topographic maps and geographic coordinates as requested in the RPR form?
The DHR asks that the relevant portion of a 7.5 USGS map indicating the defined project boundary be attached to the RPR form. USGS topographic maps and State Plane coordinates can be printed or downloaded free of charge from UNH’s GRANITView website at: http://granitview.unh.edu
USGS topographic maps and State Plane coordinates are available through a variety of sources. Topo Maps can be printed or downloaded free of charge from UNH’s GRANITView website. If you are unfamiliar with using this mapping please see instructions below. If you are using a mapping service other than GranitView make sure the coordinate system is set to NH State Plane, Feet (WGS84 datum). An example of NH State Plane coordinates for the State House in Concord is:
Easting: 1018526 Northing: 257678
Instructions on How to Use GRANITView to Access Topo Maps and
What will the DHR do with a completed RPR?
Once received at the DHR, the RPR will be reviewed by our professional staff. Within 30 days of receipt, we will respond in writing. The response will include information on:
- whether the project is likely to affect historic or archaeological properties,
- whether further DHR review is required,
- whether additional information is needed to assess the likelihood that historic or archaeological properties will be affected by the proposed project, and
- whether an archaeological survey or historic study of the property is warranted
If, after review of the RPR submittal, the DHR determines that the project is unlikely to affect significant historic or archaeological resources, then the SHPO review is complete.
How long does Section 106 review take?
The DHR comments on all projects within 30 days from receipt of the RPR. However, due to the large number of projects we review each year and our limited staffing, sometimes our review can take a bit longer. In order to expedite the process, please make sure your submittal package is as complete as possible, including all materials and information requested within the RPR. Please keep in mind that some projects require the submittal of additional information including inventory forms, archeological reports etc. which may necessitate additional consultation with the DHR.
What can I do to have my review expedited?
The best way to have your review expedited is to make sure the information submitted is complete, so that the DHR does not need to request additional information.
Should I telephone the DHR to inquire as to the status of the review my project?
It is not advisable. Telephoning the DHR can actually result in a delay in our response time due to our limited staffing.
Should I meet with DHR staff to present my project information in person?
No. Send in a completed Request for Project Review. DHR staff will review it and request a meeting, if needed.
Will DHR review delay a project?
There is no reason that DHR review should delay a project as long as the project planners contact the DHR (by submitting a RPR) early in the project planning process. Delays are most frequently caused when project planners do not initiate DHR review early in the planning process, or submit incomplete information.
What constitutes a historic property or significant archaeological site?
For purposes of Section 106, any property listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places is considered historic. The National Register is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation; it is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the Department of the Interior. The list includes buildings, structures, objects, sites, districts, and archaeological resources. The listed properties are not just of nationwide importance; most are significant primarily at the state or local level. The protections of Section 106 extend to properties that possess significance but have not yet been listed or formally determined eligible for listing. 36 CFR § 800.16(l)
What makes a historic property “significant”?
The National Register of Historic Places has outlined four main criteria against which historic properties that are fifty years of age or older are assessed for significance. These criteria are the basis for which historic properties are evaluated in the Section 106 process. They are:
- Criterion A: properties that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history;
- Criterion B: properties that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past;
- Criterion C: properties that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or properties that represent the work of a master, or properties that possess high artistic values, or properties that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction;
- Criterion D: properties that have yielded, or may be likely to yield information important in prehistory or history 36 CFR § 800.4(c)(1)
Criteria for National Register eligibility are listed at www.nps.gov/nr/listing.htm
What happens if a National Register eligible or listed site, building, or structure is located within a project impact area?
If a National Register eligible or listed site, building, or structure is identified within the impact area of the project, in consultation with any applicable state or federal agency, will apply the criteria of effect to determine whether the effect will be adverse. Not all projects have adverse effects on historic properties. If the project is found to have no adverse effect, DHR review is complete. 36 CFR § 800.5 RSA 227-C:1-a, I (1998)
What happens if the project is determined to have an adverse effect to a significant historic or archaeological property?
If a project is found to have an adverse effect to a significant historic property or archaeological site, DHR enters into consultation with the project proponents and the federal agency and, as warranted, other government agencies and other interested parties. The goal of the consultation is to arrive at prudent and feasible measures that will avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effect. The proponent may be asked to submit an analysis of alternatives in order to determine if there are feasible alternatives that will avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effect.
The end result of the consultation process is the developing and signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the proponent, SHPO, the state or federal funding, permitting, or licensing agency, and other participating parties as warranted. An MOA is a written agreement that stipulates the measures that will be taken to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate the adverse effects and states that the signatories agree to these measures. Once the stipulations of the MOA are fulfilled, DHR review is complete. 36 CFR § 800.6
Can the Section 106 review process stop a project?
No. The Advisory Council, SHPO, and the review process cannot stop a project. The process can take time, especially if the federal agency is slow to initiate consultation in the first phase, does not provide complete information, or if the Federal agency and SHPO are not in agreement as to the effect of a project on historic properties or appropriate mitigation measure.
I’m concerned about a proposed new development and its threat to a historic property. What can be done about it?
If the proposed new development will involve state or federal funding, licenses or permits, the project proponent must submit a Request for Project Review. Individuals and organizations with a demonstrated interest in the project may participate in Section 106 review as consulting party. Participation is subject to approval by the responsible Federal agency.
If the proposed new development will involve only local permits, contact your local historical commission to see whether the property is in a Local Historic District or whether your
municipality has a demolition delay by-law.
What happens if the DHR requests that an archaeological survey be conducted for a project?
If, after reviewing a RPR, the DHR requests that an archaeological survey be conducted for the project impact area, the proponent should engage the services of a qualified archaeological consultant to conduct the survey. A list of qualified archaeologists can be found at www.nh.gov/nhdhr/consultants_archaeology.html
What will the archaeologist do during the survey?
The archaeologist will conduct an archaeological sensitivity assessment of the project area and the surrounding area. The survey entails background investigations such as environmental research and a literature search to develop a context for both the existing and past physical and cultural environment and setting. The archaeologists will conduct a file search at the DHR to examine site location maps, site inventory forms, and cultural resource reports relevant to the project locale and those providing insight into relevant historic contexts.
The archaeologist will then visit the project area and conduct a field investigation. During the field investigation the archaeologist will systematically walk all of the accessible areas to examine the ground surface and record areas that have potential archaeological sensitivity. Occasionally, the field investigation will include soil coring and, if useful, a small number of judgmentally-placed .5x.5 meter shovel tests to gain a better understanding of subsurface conditions.
If areas of archaeological sensitivity are found, the archaeologist, in consultation with the DHR, may recommend additional sub-surface investigations to determine if an archaeological site exists within the project area and, if so, determine the approximate boundary of the site.
After background research and field inspection are complete, the archaeologist will analyze the data and produce a report providing the results of the survey and make a recommendation on archaeological sensitivity.
How long does an archaeological survey take?
Each archaeological survey is unique and completion time depends on the size of the project area, the scope of the investigation, weather conditions, and other factors. The best way to answer this question is to ask the archaeological consultant performing the survey.
What if the archaeological survey finds no evidence of archaeological sensitivity?
If, after reviewing a report on the results of the survey, the DHR concurs that the results of the survey indicate that the project area does not exhibit archaeological sensitivity, the DHR will inform the proponent by letter within 30 days of receipt of the report. If no significant archaeological sites or other historic properties will be affected by the project, DHR review is complete.
What if the archaeologist finds a potentially significant site?
If, after reviewing a report on the results of the survey, the DHR concurs that the results of the survey indicate that one or more significant archaeological sites exist within project impact areas, the DHR will recommend that the sites be avoided, or, if avoidance is not possible, that further archaeological testing be conducted in order to evaluate the sites to determine whether they are eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
How do I know if a building located in my project area is eligible or listed in the National Register of Historic Places?
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources maintains extensive files on the cultural resources documented in New Hampshire. These files are routinely accessed by cultural resources professionals for compliance with Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act and RSA 227:C. The Division has been in an ongoing process of updating the inventory filing system and making the files more readily accessible. The files are open by appointment to consultants and researchers Monday through Friday from 8:00 until 4:00 by calling 603.271.6568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if buildings on my property have not been previously surveyed?
For projects involving a single building, a NHDHR Individual Inventory Form completed by a qualified architectural historian is required (see www.nh.gov/nhdhr/consultants for list of qualified consultants).
For projects involving more than one building, the DHR will request a completed NHDHR Area Form. In addition, it will be necessary to complete the first two pages of a NHDHR Individual Inventory Form for each building in the project area. Instructions for completing the inventory forms and blank forms are available on our web site. A list of qualified architectural historians who regularly do this type of work in New Hampshire is available at www.nh.gov/nhdhr/consultants.
Who determines if my property is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places?
The DHR, working with the applicable state or federal agency, reviews all inventory forms and determines eligibility. The DHR’s Determination of Eligibility (DOE) Committee evaluates inventory forms and resources at meetings twice a month. Staff reviewers need at least one week in advance of the meeting to review the research and prepare a determination. Written comments are mailed to the project’s lead federal agency and other participants shortly after the DOE meeting confirming eligibility status or requesting additional information.
For more information on the review process please refer to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen's Guide to Section 106 Review