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E-Cultural and Historic Resources

E-Cultural and Historic Resources - Construction and the...

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Construction and the Discovery of Cultural and Historic Resources Introduction When new facilities are designed and built, there are occasions when these projects are located where previous civilizations occupied the same sites. Sometimes these circumstances are never detected; but in other s there are obvious indications of prior inhabitants in the area, namely artifacts that give some information about the history, culture, lifestyle, etc. of former inhabitants. In some instances, there is evidence of prehistoric animal life or plant life that was once in the same area. Whether the types of remains are historic or cultural, it is necessary to evaluate the importance or significance of such resources. If they are valuable, they must be protected and preserved. This stems from a moral obligation as well as to maintain regulatory compliance. The impact to a construction site when encountering an unforeseen condition can have dramatic consequences on both the schedule and budget. These challenges can increase if the unexpected event includes the discovery of some form of cultural or historic resources. These discoveries, whether remains of Indian cultures, early European settlements, prehistoric animals, memorials to individuals, human remains, or other materials bearing testimony to historical events or other early life-forms, may be of considerable historical or cultural value. Natural processes degrade many artifacts left by prior civilizations. As a result, the number of archaeological artifacts and sites that may be discovered through construction activities are few. However, the unearthing of cultural and historic resources must be anticipated, and adequate steps will need to be taken to preserve the integrity of any items discovered. However, to minimize the possibility of increased expenditures, prolonged delays, and possible project cancellation, it is recommended that precautionary measures be taken prior to commencing ground disturbance. Background Various Federal laws have been enacted relating specifically to cultural resources, including the following: Antiquities Act of 1906, Historic Sites Act of 1935, Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960, National Historic Preservation act of 1966, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974. Perhaps the law with the greatest impact is the National Historic Preservation Act, which led to the creation of the State Historic Preservation Officer at the state level. The State Historic Preservation Officer, also commonly known as the SHPO (pronounced “ship- oh”), administers the Federal law at the state level to protect cultural resources. The National Historic Preservation Act mandates that preconstruction surveys be conducted on all Federal, Federally-assisted, or Federally-licensed undertakings involving the National Register of Historic Places. If cultural resources are found during construction, the agency must comply with the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act. If it is considered plausible that the cultural resources might be significant, such determination is to be made by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The construction
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