NHPA Section 106 Consultation
The review process specified under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is being followed for the Solar PEIS.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires federal agencies to consider the effect of their undertakings on historic properties. Regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation under Section 106 of the NHPA specify the required review process. (For further explanation of Section 106 of the NHPA, see: http://www.achp.gov/work106.html.)
An important part of the Section 106 review process is consultation with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer(s) (SHPOs), all Federally recognized Native American tribes that have an interest in the area being affected, and with any persons or organizations that are interested in the cultural resources that could be impacted by the project.
Conducting the NHPA Section 106 Consultation
The BLM has taken numerous actions to comply with requirements of the NHPA Section 106 in relation to the Solar PEIS, including SEZs. The BLM consulted with Indian tribes, the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) from the six states, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). A Solar PA among the BLM, the six SHPOs, and the ACHP, will be executed prior to signing of the Solar PEIS ROD. The PA will define steps the BLM will follow to take into account the effects of the BLM's Solar Energy Program on historic properties under Section 106 of the NHPA.
The BLM is implementing a tiered approach to the identification and consideration of effects on historic properties. Staff preparing the Solar PEIS utilized existing site record and surveyed geographic information system (GIS) databases to identify potential areas of conflict and define initial SEZ boundaries. Comments on the Draft Solar PEIS submitted by tribes and organizations such as the NTHP led to the elimination of a number of proposed SEZs and the reconfiguration of some of the remaining SEZs to minimize conflicts with cultural resources.
On March 2, 2012, the BLM awarded a contract to SWCA Environmental Consultants to conduct a statistically based, Class II sample survey of all proposed SEZs in Arizona, California, and Nevada where current development pressure for solar energy is the greatest. Acquisition of sample inventory data will enable the BLM to anticipate the adverse effects on historic properties likely to arise from development in SEZs. The final survey report will estimate the density and distribution of archeological sites. Sensitivity maps will be generated that focus on management priorities and National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility. Final results will be submitted to the BLM by the end of October 2012 and will be made available as appropriate through the Solar PEIS project Web site (http://solareis.anl.gov).
After the Solar PEIS is completed, the BLM will sign a Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD will amend land use plans to designate lands for future solar energy development. As development proceeds, BLM will conduct Section 106 compliance and NEPA reviews for individual proposed projects.