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Cultural Resources and Environmental Impact Assessment

Cultural Resources and Environmental Impact Assessment

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Cultural Resources and Environmental Impact Assessment

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  1. Cultural Resources and Environmental Impact Assessment TEST 335, Environmental Impact Assessment UW Tacoma July 7, 2009 Robert Kopperl, Ph.D. Northwest Archaeological Associates, Inc.

  2. Evaluating Environmental Impacts For cultural resources, it’s pretty much like this section of your syllabus: • Establish Baseline Conditions • Evaluate Impacts • Identify & Evaluate Mitigation Options • BUT – How cultural resources are considered depends on many things: • -What laws are in play -What government agencies are in play • -Who owns the land on which the resources are found • -Who’s doing the assessment (State and Fed Quals; RPA)

  3. First, what are cultural resources? -Archaeological Sites -Buildings -Structures -Objects -Traditional Cultural Properties Things that are important enough, intact enough, and (usually) old enough to be considered “significant”

  4. Definitions vary depending on the regulatory context of an assessment: Section 106 of the NHPA – Only considers “Historic Properties”, i.e. cultural resources older than 50 years, maintaining integrity, and meeting criteria of significance that make them eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places(NRHP). NEPA – Much broader consideration; to preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage. Washington SEPA - Checklist Item #13; Places listed on or proposed for listing on any historic register; Evidence of historic, archaeological, scientific, or cultural importance on or next to a project Local Definitions – State, County, and Local historic registers and regulations; Vary widely, pertain more often to buildings.

  5. How are CR considered under: • NEPA • NHPA/Section 106 • 4(f) • SEPA

  6. How are cultural resources considered under: • NEPA • NHPA/Section 106 • 4(f) • SEPA

  7. Under NEPA: The scales at which the impacts of Federal Actions are considered condition how cultural resources are considered. CRM practitioners are often told at the beginning of their analysis what sort of supporting documentation they are preparing: For an EIS, and EA, or CatEx Basic assessment methods similar between thresholds; significant cultural resources may be considered under any three, although significant resources for which impacts may not readily be mitigated often push projects to EIS Cultural resource discipline reports contribute to discussion of the affected environment, adverse effects of project alternatives on cultural resources (direct, indirect, and cumulative), and mitigation measures that may be employed to offset adverse effects. NEPA and Section 106 process are, ideally, coordinated as much as possible. Sensitive info exempt from FOIA.

  8. How are CR considered under: • NEPA • NHPA/Section 106 • 4(f) • SEPA

  9. Under NHPA/Section 106: Define the Area of Potential Effects (APE); Lead 106 agency initiates consultation with appropriate groups – concurrence on APE by SHPO/THPO/etc Identify eligible Historic Properties within APE Determine whether or not Historic Properties will be affected by project. If so, determine whether or not the effects are adverse. Consult with others on ways to mitigate or resolve adverse effects to Historic Properties

  10. How are CR considered under: • NEPA • NHPA/Section 106 • 4(f) • SEPA

  11. Under 4(f): Applies to federally assisted transportation projects that will have an adverse effect on Historic Properties Within some limits, the project can’t have an adverse effect on an historic property unless there is no “prudent or feasible alternative”. Archaeological sites considered significant for their research potential may be mitigated through data recovery and therefore there no adverse effects are usually considered to such sites under 4(f). Unavoidable adverse effects to non-archaeological Historic Properties as determined during the Section 106 process for transportation projects often create complexities in the 4(f) process down the road (no pun intended).

  12. How are CR considered under: • NEPA • NHPA/Section 106 • 4(f) • SEPA

  13. Under SEPA: Following the checklist for Washington DoE, #13 requires listing known properties, describing evidence of other important cultural resources, proposing ways to avoid, minimize, and mitigate damage to them Doesn’t stipulate significance of cultural resources Federal and state regulations may be considered useful guidelines

  14. What do we do, in general, regarding cultural resource assessments? • Document Conditions/Identify Resources • Evaluate Resources for Significance/Importance • Assess impacts/Mitigation options • Conduct Mitigation • Facilitate Consultation

  15. Document Conditions/Identify Resources • Establish boundary or APE • Document natural and cultural setting, previous research • Develop expectations for cultural resources in the project area • Make reasonable effort to actually find resources and document existing conditions

  16. Evaluation of Cultural Resources through Inventory and “Testing” • Basic Parameters and characteristics for Historic Property Inventory or Archaeological Site Inventory Forms • Significance of cultural resource – NRHP criteria • Integrity of cultural resource – NRHP aspects • Disseminated in inventory forms, reports, Determination of Eligibility forms

  17. Assess Impacts and Mitigation Options • Consider all alternatives • Consider direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts • Determine if any are adverse – do they negatively impact the aspects of a cultural resource’s integrity that make them significant • Provide management and mitigation options • Avoidance • Monitoring • Mitigation - Data recovery, HABS-HAER documentation, creative alternatives

  18. For Further Reading: King, Thomas F. 2004 Cultural Resource Laws & Practice, Second Edition. Alta Mira Press, Walnut Creek. National Park Service 1997 How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. National Register Bulletin, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington D.C.