Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Florida: Construction of the Rowland Trust Estates Subdivision, Okeechobee
Agency: Army Corps of Engineers
Criteria for Council Involvement:
- This undertaking will adversely affect the Okeechobee Battlefield, a National Historic Landmark (Criterion 1).
- The Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes have raised concerns regarding impacts to this property of religious and cultural significance to the tribes; it may contain Indian burials (Criterion 4).
On January 12, 2000, Council staff attended a meeting at the Okeechobee Battlefield in southern Florida to explore alternatives to proposed commercial and residential development on this important National Historic Landmark (NHL) property. The approximately 140-acre site witnessed the pivotal battle of the 1837 Second Seminole War. The Corps is currently reviewing a permit to fill wetlands so that the property can be developed.
Representatives of the Seminole and Miccosukee Indian Tribes, the Florida State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), Okeechobee County officials, representatives of the Rowland Trust, and a representative of Congressman Clay Shaw’s office attended the meeting. Consultation was productive and explored a variety of alternatives to development of this land, including purchase for preservation and setting aside a portion of the battlefield for commemoration and education.
The Corps is reviewing an application for a Section 404 permit for the construction of a lakefront residential subdivision known as Rowland Trust Estates. The proposed subdivision, which will include 300 residential lots, is within the boundaries of the Okeechobee Battlefield NHL, located just east of Okeechobee.
The battlefield was designated an NHL in 1961 as the site of the most important battle of the Second Seminole War and for its association with Generallater PresidentZachary Taylor. At this battle, General Taylor won a decisive victory over the largest concentration of Seminole and Miccosukee warriors assembled during the war. The 640-acre battlefield is privately owned; no part has been set aside for preservation.
In 1997, the Corps formally determined that the project would adversely affect the battlefield and initiated consultation with the Council, which expressed several concerns with the proposed project. First, the site is of importance to both the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes as a property of traditional religious and cultural significance. Both tribes consider the area sacred, and there is the strong probability of buried human remains on the battlefield. (In addition to Section 106, a State burial law addressing disturbance of unmarked graves is also applicable.)
The Council also noted that the proposed residential development could result in the property’s de-designation as an NHL. The most probable area where the battle was fought lies within or near the southeast corner of the project site. The threat posed to the site’s integrity led the National Park Service to list the property as a Priority 1 Endangered Landmark from 1995-1997.
In 1998, Corps placed review of the project on hold pending further project planning by the applicant. In mid 1999, the Corps renewed review of the project and reinitiated consultation under Section 106. The Council notified the Secretary of the Army that it would continue to participate in consultation on the project.
The proposed development within the boundaries of an NHL has several policy implications. First, the project underscores the need for the integration of historic preservation considerations at the local planning level, since the NHL is privately owned. Second, the importance of this site to both the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes as a traditional cultural property and sacred site must be addressed in consultation. Finally, the residential subdivision as proposed may result in the de-designation of this nationally significant historic property.
Staff contact: Tom McCulloch
October 1999 report on this case
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