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Case Digest, Fall 2004
Protecting Historic Properties: Section 106 in Action

Introduction and Criteria for ACHP Involvement

Review of the Glen Canyon Dam Programmatic Agreement

District of Columbia:
Redevelopment of the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Washington

District of Columbia:
Renovation of the Old Patent Office Building

District of Columbia:
Update: Transfer of the Southeast Federal Center

Minnesota and Wisconsin:
Update: Construction of a New Crossing Over the St. Croix River

New Jersey:
Rehabilitation of Portions of Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook

New Mexico:
Construction of a Wireless Telecommunications Tower, Taos

South Dakota:
Widening of Route 4, Crow Creek Reservation, Buffalo County

Development of the Grounds of Rippon Lodge, Prince William County

Development of a Cell Tower in Old Faithful Historic District, Yellowstone National Park

Development of a Programmatic Agreement for National Forest Recreational Residences


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 with the 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 (PA) or a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is reached and signed by the project’s consulting parties. A PA clarifies roles, responsibilities, and expectations of all parties engaged in large and complex Federal projects that may have an effect on a historic property. An MOA specifies the mitigation measure that the lead Federal agency must take to ensure the protection of a property's historic values.

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 the ACHP's involvement.

A considerable number of cases, however, present issues or challenges that warrant the ACHP’s attention. The criteria for ACHP involvement in reviewing Section 106 cases are set forth in Appendix A of the ACHP’s regulations. In accordance with those criteria, the ACHP 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; and/or
  • presents issues of concern to Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations.

This report presents a representative cross-section of undertakings that illustrate the variety and complexity of Federal activities in which the 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 of 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 the ACHP, Section 106 review, and the national historic preservation program.


Posted December 17, 2004

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