The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires federal agencies to consider the effect of their undertakings on historic properties. The BLM consulted with historic preservation organizations and tribes in preparing a Programmatic Agreement for compliance with the NHPA.
The BLM has taken numerous actions to comply with requirements of the NHPA in relation to the Solar PEIS, including solar energy zones (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 NTHP. A Solar Programmatic Agreement (PA) among the BLM, the six SHPOs, and the ACHP has been executed.
The BLM consulted with the ACHP; the six SHPOs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah; the NTHP; and Indian tribes in preparing a Programmatic Agreement (PA) governing Section 106 compliance procedures for future solar undertakings. The BLM provided the Draft PA in February 2011 and the Revised Draft PA in late October and early November to tribes for review and comment. In May 2012, PA Version 2.5 was sent for comment to those tribes with historical and cultural ties to the solar energy zones (SEZs) and/or variance areas. Detailed feedback provided by the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the Big Pine Paiute Tribe resulted in additions and modifications of compliance procedures in the PA. The Consulting Parties agreed to the final provisions of the Solar PA in August 2012. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Duckwater Shoshone signed as concurring parties. The Final Solar PA was signed by the Acting BLM Director on September 7, 2012, and was fully executed by all parties on September 24, 2012.
For future solar undertakings proposed on lands administered by the BLM, including the SEZs, the agency will consult with the SHPOs, Indian tribes, other consulting parties, and the ACHP regarding inventory, eligibility, effect, treatment, and the consideration of post-review discoveries in accordance with the terms of the PA. Requirements for additional archeological survey, ethnographic studies, or other actions needed to consider and protect historic properties shall be fully explained and agreed to as part of the submission of a Plan of Development (POD). The terms and conditions of the project authorization will require documentation of a completed BLM-approved cultural resources mitigation plan before ground disturbance and construction begin.
Sample Class II archeological surveys of SEZs within Arizona, California, and Nevada were completed in late 2012 to provide more up-to-date and complete information for those SEZs (the contract objectives for these surveys are available). These surveys will allow a projection of the density and distribution of historic properties in those SEZs and help direct development to those portions of the SEZs with the fewest conflicts with historic properties. A summary of the results of these surveys is provided on the applicable SEZ pages of this website. Pre-application meetings with solar applicants will identify the need for additional site-specific inventory data for proposed project areas. Indian tribes with historical or cultural ties to the SEZ or variance areas will be invited to participate and will be given the opportunity to identify traditional historic properties through consultation with the BLM and to propose additional ethnographic research.
Opportunities to further improve Section 106 compliance will be made possible through completion of Regional Mitigation Strategies for SEZs. The BLM, in consultation with SHPOs, the ACHP, Indian tribes, and other consulting parties, will take steps to collect information on historic properties related to SEZs in a more effective and focused manner than might otherwise be possible with case-by-case Section 106 compliance procedures.