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State Historic Preservation Office

Review and Compliance FAQs

What is Section 106?

Section 106 refers to a specific part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. It requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties and afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation the opportunity to comment on federal projects prior to implementation.

What is a federal undertaking?

An undertaking is a project, activity, or program funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a federal agency, including activities carried out by or on behalf of a federal agency; those carried out with federal financial assistance; and those requiring a federal permit, license, or approval.

Who is responsible for conducting a Section 106 review?

The primary responsibility for meeting the requirements of Section 106 rests with the federal agency. Federal agencies cannot delegate their legal obligation to comply with Section 106 to an applicant or non-Federal party without clear statutory authority.

Who are "consulting parties"?

A federal agency often consults with a variety of parties when completing a Section 106 review, including the state and/or tribal historic preservation officers; other tribal governments; local governments; applicants for federal assistance, permits, and licenses; and other interested agencies, organizations, and individuals.

What is the "APE"?

The Area of Potential Effect, or APE, is the geographic area within which an undertaking has the potential to cause effects to historic properties, if such properties exist. It is important to remember that the APE must include the area where either direct or indirect effects can occur.

What is a historic property?

A historic property is any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure or object included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the official list of historic properties recognized by the Federal Government as worth of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture.

How are project effects evaluated?

The federal agency assesses the potential a project has to affect historic properties. It may be determined that a project area has no historic properties, or that the potential effects to historic properties are not adverse. In such cases, the project proceeds. On the other hand, potential adverse effects on historic properties are sometimes identified.

What is an "adverse effect"?

A project is considered to have an "adverse effect" on a historic property if it alters the characteristics that qualify the property for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Adverse effects can be direct or indirect and include effects that are reasonably foreseeable and cumulative. Typical adverse effects include: demolition or damage; alterations inconsistent with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, relocation of the property; change in the property's use or setting, introduction of audible, atmospheric or visual elements that diminish the property's significant features; and transfer, sale, or lease of property out of federal ownership or control without appropriate preservation restrictions or covenants.

What happens when adverse effects are identified?

The federal agency, the state and/or tribal historic preservation office, and other parties enter into consultation to seek ways to avoid, reduce, and/or mitigate adverse effects. The consultation process usually results in a memorandum of agreement stipulating the agreed-upon measures to address project effects.

What information is submitted to the SHPO/THPO for review?

Federal agencies often develop specific formats for review, depending on the nature of their projects and on the agency's administrative framework. Consultants or others preparing Section 106 materials on behalf of agencies should check with those agencies for specific information.

How long will the review process take?

Each agency develops its own timetable for their Section 106 review process. Often, this process is coordinated with review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Generally, the SHPO responds to agency submittals in 30 days.