NRCS Prototype Programmatic Agreement

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), worked with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to develop a prototype programmatic agreement (PPA) under 36 CFR § 800.14(b)(4) of the regulations implementing Section 106, “Protection of Historic Properties” (36 CFR Part 800). The PPA was authorized in 2014.

The PPA was developed by NRCS with input from the ACHP, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), individual State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), federally recognized Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations (NHOs), and historic preservation organizations (e.g., the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Society for American Archaeology), tribal membership organizations (e.g., the United South and Eastern Tribes), and other interested parties. It addresses NRCS’ responsibilities under Section 106 for its conservation programs, and enables streamlining of Section 106 reviews by establishing review protocols, creates greater predictability in costs and time for consultation, and provides the flexibility to address specific situations and conditions to resolve adverse effects to historic properties. This PPA provides NRCS with a valuable tool to assist it in meeting its responsibilities under Section 106 as it continues to provide assistance and funding to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners for their conservation improvements.

This PPA replaces the 2002 nationwide “Programmatic Agreement among the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers relative to Conservation Assistance,” as amended in 2011 and 2012. 

NRCS has many programs, practices, activities, and special initiatives that are implemented to address specific conservation issues. Not all states use the same programs and practices, activities and special initiatives; therefore, provisions within the PPA may be modified to allow states to focus on specific concerns and improve the management of effects to historic properties. When modifying the PPA at the state level, NRCS, SHPOs, THPOs, tribes, and NHOs should focus only on modifications that would further tailor historic preservation reviews to unique circumstances within a specific state. These areas include:

  •  Timeframes and communication methods,
  •  The roles and responsibilities of the PPA’s signatories,
  •  References to applicable local and state laws, and
  •  A list of undertakings with little or no potential to affect historic properties, thus requiring no further Section 106 consultation with the relevant SHPO/Indian tribe/NHO.

A pdf of the Prototype Programmatic Agreement can be downloaded below.