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Case Digest, Spring 2002
Protecting Historic Properties: Section 106 in Action

Introduction and Criteria for ACHP Involvement

Development of the Medicine Lake Highlands

Construction in Savannah Historic District

Redevelopment of Ford Island at Pearl Harbor

Construction of Beltway Around Lincoln

New Mexico:
Widening of US 70 Highway, Lincoln County

New Mexico and Arizona:
Construction of Fence Lake Mine

New York:
Transfer of Ownership of Governors Island, New York City

Treatment of the Mechanicsville Hydroelectric Plant

South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska:
Transfer of Federal Land and the Operation of Missouri River Dams and Reservoirs


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 action’s effects, and then explore ways to avoid or mitigate those effects.

The Federal agency conducts this process in consultation with State Historic Preservation Officers, representatives of Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations, 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 ACHP. However, a considerable number of cases present issues or challenges that warrant the attention of ACHP.

The specific criteria for ACHP 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 small but representative cross-section of undertakings that illustrate the variety and complexity of Federal activities in which ACHP is currently involved. It shows the ways that 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 July 15, 2002

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