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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2003 arrow California: Streamlining Consultation on Fuels Reduction Projects
Read other Section 106 cases in the Fall 2003 Case Digest
California: Streamlining Consultation on Fuels Reduction Projects

Agencies: Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service
This case exemplifies how State and Federal agencies can work together to streamline the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act.

An agreement is in the works that will allow the State of California to identify historic properties on behalf of the Federal agencies funding its “fuels reduction projects”—activities that include the intentional burning of forests to reduce fuels that can cause catastrophic wildfires.

Once signed, the agreement will be the first of its kind for the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management—the Federal agencies that fund States’ fuels reduction projects. The agreement is a good example of how a Federal agency program such as cost-sharing can be handled so that it meets the intent and purposes of Section 106.

Through cost-sharing programs for fuels reduction projects on private lands in California, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provide funding to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF).

worker lights a fire in forest brush

 

Activities such as “prescribed burns” to reduce fuels that can cause wildfires are covered under a new Federal-State agreement on the treatment of historic properties in California (photo courtesy of BLM)

 

Because of this Federal funding, the Forest Service has been carrying out Section 106 compliance for the fuels reduction projects through a delegation of tasks to CDF under a 1996 Programmatic Agreement among CDF, the Forest Service, the ACHP, and the California State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).

In October 2002, the Forest Service and CDF initiated consultation with the other parties to expand the scope of the agreement to include additional Federal agencies, notably BLM.

In December 2002, as the agreement’s lead Federal agency, the Forest Service initiated government-to-government consultation with Indian tribes and organizations in California. Through consultation with tribes, the Forest Service invited the three Tribal Historic Preservation Officers in California to sign the agreement.

Most recently, in September 2003, the ACHP commented on a draft of the agreement, which will streamline consultation by allowing CDF to carry out identification of historic properties on non-Federal lands in California and apply the criteria of adverse effect on behalf of the funding Federal agency. If no historic properties will be affected, Federal agency or SHPO review will not be required.

If adverse effects to historic properties cannot be avoided by a federally funded project, however, the project either will be canceled or the Federal agency will take over and conduct consultation to resolve the adverse effects.

While the Forest Service and BLM intend to sign the final agreement, other Federal agencies funding CDF programs may also sign the agreement through an addendum. The agreement is a good example of how a Federal agency program such as cost-sharing can be handled so that it meets the intent and purposes of Section 106.

Notably, no other region of the Forest Service or BLM has an agreement for fuels reduction cost-sharing programs. Federal agencies in some other States do not view their funding of these programs as Federal undertakings, although the work that is done with the funding has the potential to affect historic properties.

Many fuels reduction projects have little potential to affect historic properties. Others, however, such as timber sales, may adversely affect historic properties if such resources are not identified and avoided by damaging ground disturbing activities.

Through this PA, CDF, the Forest Service, and BLM demonstrate that it is possible to tailor Section 106 review to meet the special needs of these programs while ensuring that historic properties are not damaged or destroyed.


Staff contact: Carol Legard

Posted October 30, 2003

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