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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Summer 2002 arrow California: Development of the Medicine Lake Highlands
Case Update:
California: Development of the Medicine Lake Highlands

Agencies: Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service
As reported in the Spring 2002 Case Digest, two proposed geothermal development projects in Northern California’s Medicine Lake Highlands could have substantial effects on the traditional cultural values associated with the Medicine Lake Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) District, which is eligible for the National Register.

ACHP executed an agreement for one of the geothermal development projects, Fourmile Hill, noting that the project would affect the TCP but that it is located outside of the volcanic caldera that defines the central area of the historic district.

The second project, Telephone Flat, is located inside the caldera and would have a substantial adverse effect on the property—a finding that requires Section 106 consultation before the project can proceed.

In June 2002, an Indian tribe, a Native American organization, and a local environmental group jointly filed suit against the involved Federal agencies and geothermal company over the Fourmile Hill project. The suit claims that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior did not adequately comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

View of Medicine Lake Highlands, California



Medicine Lake Highlands, CA (staff photo)



The suit also maintains that the agencies plus ACHP violated the National Historic Preservation Act by entering into a Memorandum of Agreement prior to fully completing the requirements of Section 106. (The agreement emphasizes specific measures to minimize audio, visual, and atmospheric effects and the development of a long-term program to manage the Highlands in a manner that protects its value to Native American practitioners.) ACHP is currently preparing a response.

In July 2002, ACHP met with BLM, the Forest Service, the California State Historic Preservation Officer, and interested Indian tribes to discuss the Telephone Flat project and tour the proposed project area.

Consulting parties looking at map at Medicine Lake Highlands, California



Consulting parties, Medicine Lake Highlands, CA (staff photo)




As a result of these meetings, it is unlikely that an agreement will be reached on how effects to historic properties should be taken into account if the Telephone Flat project is approved. Because of the November 1, 2002, deadline imposed by a settlement agreement on this project, ACHP anticipates BLM will terminate consultation and request comment from ACHP.

For background information on this case, see the Spring 2002 Case Digest at

Staff contact: Carol Gleichman

Posted March 19, 2003

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