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Case Digest, Fall 2003
Protecting Historic Properties: Section 106 in Action

Introduction and Criteria for ACHP Involvement

Construction of the I-10 Bridge, Mobile

Surrender of the Childs Irving Hydroelectric Project License,
Yavapai and Gila Counties

Streamlining of Consultation on Fuels Reduction Projects

District of Columbia:
Redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House
(closed case)

Security Upgrades for Building 500, Fort Riley

New York :
Construction of Foley Square U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building, New York
(closed case)

Transfer of Ownership of the K-25 Nuclear Facility, Oak Ridge
(closed case)


Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act 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 action’s effects, and then explore ways to avoid or mitigate those effects.

The Federal agency often conducts this process in consultation with Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), State Historic Preservation Officers, representatives of Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations, and other parties with an interest in the issues. Sometimes a Programmatic Agreement or a Memorandum of Agreement is reached and signed by the project’s consulting parties. The agreements are an option provided for in the ACHP’s regulations that sets forth a tailored process to guide how an agency meets the requirements of Section 106.

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 ACHP. However, a considerable number of cases present issues or challenges that warrant ACHP’s attention. The specific Criteria for Council Involvement in reviewing Section 106 cases are set forth in Appendix A of ACHP’s regulations. In accordance with those criteria, ACHP is likely to enter the Section 106 process when an undertaking:

  • has substantial impacts on important historic properties (Criterion 1);
  • presents important questions of policy or interpretation (Criterion 2);
  • 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 representative cross-section of undertakings that illustrate the variety and complexity of Federal activities in which ACHP is currently involved. It illustrates the ways the Federal Government influences what happens to historic properties in communities throughout the Nation, and 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.

In addition to this report, ACHP’s Web site contains a useful library of information about ACHP and Section 106 review.

Posted May 27, 2004

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