Introduction to Update on Prominent Section 106 Cases: Fall 2000
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires Federal agencies to consider historic preservation values when planning their activities. In the Section 106 process, a Federal agency must identify affected historic properties, evaluate the proposed actionís effects, and then explore ways to avoid or mitigate those effects. The Federal agency conducts this process in consultation with State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other parties with an interest in the issues.
Each year thousands of Federal actions undergo Section 106 review. The vast majority of cases are routine and resolved at the State or tribal level, without involvement of the Council. However, a considerable number of cases present issues or challenges that warrant the attention of the Council. There may be complex preservation issues, substantial public controversy, precedent-setting situations, or simply significant impacts on important historic properties.
The specific Criteria for Council Involvement in reviewing Section 106 cases are set forth in Appendix A of the Councilís regulations. In accordance with those criteria, the Council is likely to enter the Section 106 process when an undertaking:
- has substantial impacts on important historic properties
- presents important questions of policy or interpretation
- has the potential for presenting procedural problems (Criterion 3); and/or
- presents issues of concern to Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations (Criterion 4).
This report provides information on a small but representative cross-section illustrating the variety and complexity of Federal activities in which the Council is currently involved. From creation of a World War II memorial on the National Mall, to construction of a highway bypass of Hoover Dam, to commercial development affecting Chancellorsville Battlefield, projects with significant impacts on important historic properties have required the Councilís attention.
Several cases profiled in this report also highlight important policy issues that the Council must address, including how to balance the needs of natural and cultural properties, and how best to address the concerns of Indian tribes regarding impacts to properties of traditional religious and cultural significance.
Likewise, this report highlights the wide variety of Federal activities that trigger the Section 106 review process. Whether the Federal Government is building a courthouse, funding a new highway, disposing of Federal property, or requiring a wetlands protection permit for private development, its activities can impact historic properties.
This report illustrates the ways the Federal Government influences what happens to historic properties in communities throughout the Nation. It also highlights the importance of informed citizens to be alert to potential conflicts between Federal actions and historic preservation goals, and the necessity for public participation to achieve the best possible preservation solution.
The Councilís Web site contains a useful library of information about the Council and Section 106 review.
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