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Update on Prominent Section 106 Cases:
July 1999

Introduction

California: Marine Corps Air Station (Tustin)

California: U.S. Courthouse (San Diego)

California: Gold Mine (Imperial County)

Florida: Stiltsville Com-
plex (Biscayne Bay)

Kansas: South
Lawrence Trafficway

Louisiana: Industrial Canal Lock (New Orleans)

New Jersey: Congress Hall Hotel (Cape May)

Ohio: Sand & Gravel Mine (Buffington Island)

Ohio: Cleveland Bulk Terminal

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Naval Hospital

Pennsylvania: Visitor Center & Museum Complex (Gettsyburg)

Puerto Rico: Defensive Walls (San Juan)

Texas: USS Cabot/ Dedalo (Brownsville)

Virginia: Reservoir
(King William County)

Section 106 in Action

Virginia: Construction of King William Reservoir, King William County

Agency: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Criteria for Council Involvement:

  • Construction of this reservoir would adversely impact 72 archeological sites and a number of properties of religious and cultural significance to Native Americans (Criterion 1).
  • The undertaking raises important policy questions regarding evaluating project impacts on historic properties in the context of environmental justice for minority communities (Criterion 2).
  • Three Indian tribes, although they are not Federally-recognized, have raised concerns regarding impacts to a sacred site and other traditional cultural properties (Criterion 4).

Recent Developments

In an unanticipated decision, on June 4, 1999, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the City of Newport News’ request for a permit to construct the King William reservoir. In its decision to deny issuance of the permit, the Corps cited unacceptably adverse impacts to wetlands and traditional cultural properties of the Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and Upper Mattaponi tribes. These impacts led the Corps to determine that the project “has the potential to result in disproportionately high and adverse environmental effects” on the tribes, and that permitting the reservoir would thus run counter to Administration policy on environmental justice. The Council is now waiting to hear from the Corps about what steps, if any, the City now plans to take concerning its permit application.

Background

More than a year ago, the City of Newport News applied to the Corps of Engineers for a permit to construct the King William reservoir in central Virginia, east of Richmond. The proposed reservoir, planned to ensure an ample supply of drinking water for the Tidewater area into the next millennium, would lie between the reservations of two State-recognized Indian tribes, the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi.These two tribes and the Upper Mattaponi tribe, also recognized by the State but with no reservation lands, have raised concerns regarding the project's impact to their hunting, gathering, and religious practices, subsistence fisheries, and their traditional way of life. A sacred site would be affected, and 72 National Register-eligible prehistoric archeological sites would be inundated.

Under Section 106, the Council has been consulting with the Corps, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer, the permit applicant, tribal representatives, and the Environmental Justice Unit of the Environmental Protection Agency (which has been monitoring the consultation process to ensure that the reservoir's impacts to the tribal communities are fully considered).

Policy Highlights

This case is an interesting example of how effects to Native American traditional cultural properties that are evaluated under Section 106 must also be considered within the context of ensuring environmental justice. The Corps' decision to deny the requested permit on environmental justice grounds, largely based on cultural resource issues, is indicative of the growing seriousness with which Federal agencies are addressing these issues.


Staff contact: Tom McCulloch



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