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Case Study - California

CA/Caltrans Statewide PA Amended


On December 23, 2013, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) signed the first amendment to the Statewide Programmatic Agreement (PA) for compliance with Section 106 for the Federal Aid Highway Program in California. The original PA was executed on December 30, 2003, and was due to expire at the end of 2013.  In 2007, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) assigned its legal responsibility for environmental review, including Section 106 review, to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) under two new legislatively authorized programs contained in surface transportation authorization. Like the original PA, this First Amended PA applies to all FHWA Program undertakings in California, including Federal-aid emergency relief projects and assistance to local governments.


Historic Route 66 sign being installed in LA county. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.The signatories to the amended PA are FHWA, California State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), ACHP, and Caltrans. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) South Pacific Division is an invited signatory.  Caltrans and FHWA conducted wide-spread tribal outreach, with the FHWA California Division sending letters to 114 representatives of federally-recognized Indian tribes. Correspondence included a fact sheet about the PA and an internet link to a copy of the draft PA. Three tribes responded to this outreach, and provided comments.

In addition to the 114 federally-recognized Indian tribes, Caltrans invited comments on the proposed amended PA from 26 Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs); 131 non-federally recognized tribes, groups and individuals; 264 individuals and staff associated with the California Native American Heritage Commission; and 64 Certified Local Governments. Caltrans also contacted Federal agencies with jurisdiction over lands in California, 68 historic preservation organizations, and members of the California State Association of Counties.     


The new PA continues the streamlining in the 2003 PA and contains several added efficiencies. It further clarifies FHWA’s assignment of responsibility to Caltrans and the process for coordinating and consulting with Indian tribes on Federal-aid Projects. The PA includes the following provisions:

  • As a signatory to the PA, the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) programmatically designates FHWA as the lead federal agency for Section 106 compliance when a Section 404 permit is required.
  • Standard Form for adding concurring parties: The PA may be applied to undertakings on tribal lands and/or lands management by federal agencies, but only if the tribe or agency signs onto the PA as a concurring party using a standard amendment form in Appendix A.
  • Screened Undertakings: Certain actions listed in Attachment 2 are exempted from further review and consultation, provided a Caltrans Professionally Qualified Staff (PQS) determines that there are no historic properties present that could be affected.
  • Guidelines for Delineating the Area of Potential Effects are detailed in the PA (Attachment 3). Following these guidelines allows Caltrans to forgo consultation with SHPO regarding APE in most cases.
  • Identification and Evaluation are streamlined with a list of property types (such as, isolated prospect pits, bus shelters, and benches) exempt from National Register evaluation or further review (Attachment 4).
  •  No Historic Properties Affected: no SHPO review is required for findings of no historic properties affected, although Indian tribes and other consulting parties will be involved in consultation, as appropriate.
  • Findings of No Adverse Effect with Standard Conditions require no SHPO review before proceeding. All other findings of No Adverse Effect require review by the Caltrans CSO, and consultation with SHPO and consulting parties per the regulations.
  • Findings of Adverse Effect and consultation to resolve adverse effects may proceed without ACHP notification or involvement, except in the following circumstances:
    1. Devil's Slide Tunnels on Highway 1. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.When the undertaking affects a National Historic Landmark;
    2. When effects are highly controversial or there is substantial public interest; 
    3. When Caltrans, FHWA, and SHPO are unable to reach agreement on the resolution of adverse effects; or
    4. When the SHPO or another consulting party requests that the ACHP be invited to participate.
  • Caltrans will, however, file with the ACHP all project specific MOAs or PAs, whether or not the ACHP participates in consultation.
  • The PA clarifies the role of FHWA and the COE in government-to-government consultation with Indian tribes in the preamble, Stipulation IV, and in resolving adverse effects.


This is one of the most detailed and inclusive FHWA Statewide PAs in the country. The First Amended PA clarifies the authority of Caltrans to serve as the Federal agency official in Section 106 review – as the first state in the nation to assume Federal responsibility for NEPA and Section 106.  The assignment documents are available on the Caltrans website. The amended PA incorporates changes that increase the participation of Indian tribes and others in consultation yet streamline review for undertakings with no effect or no adverse effect on historic properties. The PA eliminates ACHP notification or participation in consultation except in limited circumstances, and instead focuses ACHP participation on those projects for which SHPO is not in agreement with Caltrans, that impact National Historic Landmarks, or that have significant public controversy.  Finally, it clarifies the role of the US Army Corps and Land Managing agencies in Federal Aid projects for which they have jurisdiction.


Updated February 12, 2014

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