The USDA Forest Service is proposing a nationwide Programmatic Agreement (PA) under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) to allow phasing of Section 106. Programmatic Agreements allow agencies to establish a different procedure to complete Section 106 in a way that mutually benefits the agency and its partners.
Section 106 of the NHPA requires agencies to identify and address effects that proposed projects may have on historic properties, defined as any district, site, building, structure, or object included in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places. The process of identifying historic properties and resolving potential effects is done in consultation with tribes, State Historic Preservation Officers and other interested parties before the project begins. Section 106 helps the Forest Service preserve those resources for present and future generations.
Information on the proposed PA and how to access the recordings from the webinars is included below.
Why is the Forest Service doing this?
The Forest Service is increasing long-term wildfire prevention and forest health improvement projects at a scale that makes it a challenge to perform these reviews in a timely manner or in a way that is meaningful for our partners.
Normally, Section 106 reviews are performed in response to a project design and after a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis begins.
The proposed PA initiates the Section 106 process earlier so that historic properties are considered when designing a long-term project. Consulting parties are invited early to plan the Section 106 process and identify potential heritage stewardship opportunities during the long-term project. It also allows the Section 106 review to be phased, meaning some steps could be completed after a NEPA decision document is signed, but before ground disturbance occurs. This will allow consulting parties to support meaningful heritage outcomes and allow important forest health and safety improvement projects to move forward more quickly.
Basic Frequently Asked Questions
Normally, Section 106 is completed before a NEPA decision is reached. “Phasing Section 106” adjusts the timeline, so that Section 106 may be completed after the NEPA review. For more information about standard Section 106 procedures, visit the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
A national PA would minimize the need to develop individual project PAs on multiple forests. It also provides the opportunity to approach phasing consistently. This would save time and allow us to focus limited resources on activities that are of value and interest for our partners.
No, this Programmatic Agreement is optional. It will not affect other Section 106 agreements that are in place.
This PA allows a phased approach for compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA, emphasizes early consultation, and allows a more creative approach for heritage stewardship opportunities.
The Forest Service will contact tribal officials with information about this proposed PA. Tribal Representatives may download the proposed PA and supporting documents at the Office of Tribal Relations website under their Consultation Schedule.
Tribal representatives are encouraged to submit comments directly to SM.FS.HeritAgrmnt@usda.gov so they can be addressed systematically. Tribes are also welcome to schedule meetings with Forest Service representatives to further discuss the PA. The input gathered by the Forest Service will shape the development of the PA.
The public is encouraged to submit comments directly to SM.FS.HeritAgrmnt2@usda.gov so they can be addressed systematically by the Washington Office’s Office of Tribal Relations and Heritage Program. The public is also welcome to schedule meetings with Forest Service representatives to further discuss the PA. The input gathered by the Forest Service will shape the development of the PA.
The Forest Service will consult with the Advisory Council and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to further develop and finalize the PA in Spring 2020.
Resources for Consultation
- The Office of Tribal Relations Consultation Schedule contains the supporting consultation documents for tribal representatives.
- View the Draft Programmatic Agreement outline here.
- View the Fact Sheet to access more information and frequently asked questions about the proposed Programmatic Agreement here.
- Download the Comment Form and send any comments directly to SM.FS.HeritAgrmnt2@usda.gov
Informational Webinars (Recordings)
Date: September 3, 2019
View a recording of the webinar
Date: September 5, 2019
View a recording of the webinar
For more information, please contact SM.FS.HeritAgrmnt2@usda.gov