Historic Preservation

Historic Preservation — Section 106 — ArchaeologicalĀ Conditions

The Recommended Approach for Consultation on Recovery of Significant Information from Archeological Sites is a document that speaks to the unique issues and challenges of development on lands with archeological significance. Published by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, this document serves as a guide for agencies and groups looking to maintain compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, but avoid the time consuming process of full consultation. Specifically, the Recommended Approach provides a set of conditions that an agency must incorporate into its Memorandum of Agreement. The Memorandum of Agreement is the document created by an agency that addresses managing and alleviating adverse effect on the site or sites in question.

Site Management and Treatment: The 12 Conditions

There are 12 distinct conditions included in the Recommended Approach, addressing the issues that surround the excavation of an archeological site. These conditions cover everything from budgetary concerns to proper documentation. In general terms, they are:

  • The site’s value must primarily lie in the knowledge that can be gained through various types of information recovery and excavation.
  • The site should not (or be unlikely) to contain human remains or other sacred/funeral objects.
  • The site should not be considered to have a long-term preservation value.
  • The site should not have a significance to a cultural or ethnic group that would object to excavation
  • There should be no potential value in a permanent public display of the site. (The agency may incorporate a short-term public display during the actual excavation process).
  • The data recovery plan used should be created in consultation the local preservation officer and other relevant officials.
  • The information recovery process should be supervised by a qualified individual.
  • The proposed plan should provide sufficient time and money for the completion or the project.
  • The plan must include the completion of a final report, to be presented to the local preservation officer.
  • Extensive or particularly complex projects should involve special oversight and professional peer review.
  • There should be no outstanding unresolved issues with any groups regarding the excavation plan.
  • All of the details pertaining to the excavation should be included in the official Memorandum of Agreement.

Using the 12 ConditionsĀ 

In many ways, the Recommended Approach provides a blueprint for compliance for governmental agencies and others looking to develop areas deemed to have archeological significance. It is important to note, however, that much of the language is vague and open to multiple interpretations. This openness can prove to be both useful and problematic for an agency looking to work within its parameters. As is the case with all historic properties, it remains critical for all prospective developers to pursue an open dialog with the communities and preservation experts in the places where they plan to work.