Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Section 106 Compliance

Q: I am a concerned member of the public and care very deeply about a site or resource in my community that may be affected by a proposed project. Can I call the SHPO and have them delay, halt, cancel, and/or advocate against the project?

A: While SHPO staff are always willing to speak with interested members of the public about preservation concerns, it is improper for state employees to assume an advocacy role for/against any particular project. In such an instance, SHPO staff are willing to share publicly available information regarding project details (if known to the SHPO), discuss the compliance process as relates to that project, and can direct concerned citizens to the appropriate local, regional, or national preservation advocacy groups whose designated role is to advocate, lobby, and/or litigate preservation matters.

Q: Whose requirements are these, and why is the SHPO involved in reviewing my project?

A: The answer to this question depends upon whether the project is a federal undertaking (in which case it is a Section 106 consultation) or whether it is work being done by a Nevada state agency or municipality without a federal nexus (in which case consultation is being done under the authority of state statutes, most likely NRS 383.121).

For the sake of discussion, let's assume that the project is a federal undertaking. In that instance, the requirements for consultation are federal requirements established in both law i.e., the National Historic Preservation Act, 54 U.S.C. § 300101 et seq.) and regulation (i.e., 36 CFR 800) established by the U.S. Congress and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, respectively.

The role of any SHPO, as established in regulation at 36 CFR §800.2(c)(1)(i), is to reflect "the interests of the State and its citizens in the preservation of their cultural heritage. In accordance with section 101(b)(3) of the act, the SHPO advises and assists Federal agencies in carrying out their section 106 responsibilities and cooperates with such agencies, local governments and organizations and individuals to ensure that historic properties are taking [taken] into consideration at all levels of planning and development."

Q: Does the Nevada SHPO accept electronic submissions (e.g., e-mail, E-106, or exchange via Dropbox or another FTP site)?

A: No we do not. Submissions need to come in hard copy with printouts of all correspondence, inventory reports, and associated forms (e.g., IMACS or ARAs). The forms should be printed single-sided. Any of the express mail options may help expedite things, but our office does not have the staff or resources to print out the 2,000 or so submissions (and revisions to same) that we receive annually.

Q: I have been directed by my supervisor to do "an environmental review" for a particular project and have no idea what this means. What can I do?

A: Ask your supervisor for further clarification--specifically, whether by "environmental review" is he/she referring to compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) or, perhaps both? If your supervisor is unsure, ask what agency or program is funding, authorizing, or licensing the proposed project. Then contact that agency for guidance. (Please be sure to take notes of whom you spoke with at the agency in the event that SHPO staff need to request further clarification in order to complete the consultation.)

Q: Our proposed action is "categorically excluded" under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Doesn't that mean that it is also exempt from Section 106 review?

A: Not necessarily. If the project still qualifies as an undertaking it will likely still require NHPA compliance and Section 106 review.

Q: My office/agency colleagues and I have no idea how to prepare a Section 106 submission. Can I just copy my notes, project documents, and forward them to SHPO, asking SHPO to "review and comment" on my agency/office's project?

A: This is not a great idea for two reasons. First, these project notes and plans likely do not contain information sufficient to understanding the undertaking and its potential for effects to historic properties. Second, such correspondence contains no agency determinations and request for SHPO concurrence on same--items that are necessary to the administrative record for compliance. As an alternative, we recommend contacting SHPO Review & Compliance staff to arrange a pre-consultation meeting or conference call, a mini-workshop or 106 "boot camp," or even a more detailed training for project managers at your office or agency.

In addition, you will find documents identified as "Application Instructions" and "Section 106 Coversheet" in the Review and Compliance section of the SHPO website. Download and read through those items carefully and then schedule a call or meeting with Review and Compliance staff to discuss the components of your submission. (The "Coversheet" is a MS Word "fillable" document that, while its use is not required, you can type your project information directly into the document, add supporting items such as maps, photographs, and a transmittal letter bearing original signature, and mail the packet off the address provided.)

Q: When in my office/agency's planning process should we begin considering potential project effects (impacts to) cultural resources?

A: As early as possible.

Q: Can my office engage SHPO staff in "pre-consultation" mode during the design stage of our project?

A: Absolutely! The earlier such discussion occurs, the easier it is to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse effects to historic properties. Equally important, beginning such discussions early in the design stage reduces design and redesign costs.

Q: My office/agency does not have cultural resources staff (e.g., archaeologists and/or architectural historians) on hand to complete a cultural resource inventory for our project. Will SHPO staff perform our cultural resource inventory?

A: No, the identification effort is the responsibility of the applicant. The office/agency will need to contract with cultural resources consultants who are qualified to the resource (e.g., contract with a Secretary of the Interior-qualified architectural historic to record and evaluate the structures, buildings, engineered features in the area of potential effect).

Q: I need to research the past use of a parcel of land slated for development. Where do I begin?

A: If your agency is in a position to hire a historian or other consultant to do this work, then by all means do so. If, however, a non-historian is doing this research, there are a number of resources that will be helpful in documenting the history of the property or parcel. Those will include consultation of county land records, General Land Office (GLO) maps which are available online, county assessor's office maps for date of construction of a building currently sitting on a property, the Nevada State Library's and Archives online aerial photos and other databases, as well as local libraries and historical societies. It is the applicant's responsibility to do this research.

Q: Why can't I submit Googlemaps as the map on which my project's area of potential effect (APE) is indicated?

A: Section 106 reviews both rely upon and add to the information contained in the Nevada Cultural Resource Information System (NVCRIS), the SHPO's geospatial database. USGS maps are required for the project locator map as they are compatible with our system, provide uniform reference points as well as Township, Section, and Range information so as to locate a project in three-dimensional space and in relation to other documented resources. In order to map the project area of potential effect (APE), an appropriately-scaled map should be selected on which all proposed activities associated with the project can be clearly marked and both direct and indirect APEs distinguished. (Both APEs and mapping receive additional attention in the form of the Application Instructions, Coversheet, and mp3 files dedicated to each topic in the Review and Compliance section of this website.)

Q: Can the SHPO recommend a contractor or consultant for my project?

A: No, as it would be improper for a state agency to give the appearance of steering business to a particular firm or firms. Instead, offices/agencies requiring the services of cultural resources consultants should consult the local yellow pages or the internet for names of local firms to contact and interview regarding their qualifications for the project.

Q: My office/agency has submitted a request for Section 106 consultation with the SHPO and supplied all requested materials. When can I expect to hear back?

A: Once a complete submission has been received, federal regulation affords the SHPO a 30-day review period. In the interim, if the reviewer(s) have questions regarding the submission he/she/they will likely contact the agency point of contact identified in the transmittal letter that accompanied the submission to facilitate resolution of any questions.

Q: I am an archaeologist new to Nevada. Does the SHPO manage permits for excavation in Nevada?

A: Different types of permits are required to do archaeological work in Nevada. The SHPO does not issue these permits, but here is some information about what is required.

Archaeologists will want to acquire a permit from the source appropriate to the land on which the archaeological work will occur. In other words, if the proposed excavation is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, for instance, you will want to follow the instructions provided in Appendix B of the BLM's Guidelines and Standards for Archaeological Inventory (available elsewhere on this website and readily available online as a .pdf). Those are handled by the BLM Nevada State Office in Reno. Conversely, if you are on a different federal agency's land, you will need to speak with them regarding their permitting processes, including ARPA permits.

If you will be on private or state lands lands, you will need (1) permission from the property owner, in the case of private property and (2) a Nevada State Antiquities Permit for work on state lands. State Antiquities Permits are handled by Dr. Gene Hattori at the Nevada State Museum. You can pursue this by contacting Dr. Hattori directly at 775.687.4810 X230 or via e-mail at ghattori [at]

Q: I am a consultant working under contract with a state or federal agency and wish to know the status of the SHPO review of a submission. Is it appropriate for me to contact Review and Compliance staff at the SHPO to request an update?

A: It depends. Agencies assign a point of contact for Section 106 reviews and prefer that all communication related to the consultation pass through that individual. (This is particularly true of the Armed Services where there is always a clearly-articulated chain of command and communication.) Unless the agency has provided the SHPO with written permission to speak directly with consultants, any inquiries should be directed to the state/federal agency responsible for the undertaking. (If such permission is not in place, SHPO staff will remind the consultant of this fact and direct them back to the state/federal agency.)

Q: I am a Secretary of the Interior-qualified archaeologist. Can I complete Architectural Resource Assessment (ARA) Forms for an architectural or engineered feature that will be submitted as part of a Section 106 review?

A: Federal standards require that the individual recording a particular type of resource, be qualified to the resource (i.e., SOI-qualified archaeologists undertake archaeological inventory and SOI-qualified architectural historians document architectural and engineered features (e.g., buildings, bridges, dams, etc.). For further guidance on professional qualifications, please refer to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archaeology and Historic Preservation or the Secretary of the Interior's Professional Qualification Standards.)

Q: I need to hire a consultant, but don't know how to direct their work. Can/will SHPO staff do this for me?

A: This would represent a conflict of interest as SHPO staff would then be reviewing the results of said work. In such an instance, we would direct the office/agency back to the federal agency that is the source of its funding, license, permit, or other authorization for assistance (e.g., verbal guidance, sample scopes of work, best practices, etc.).

Q: Is it correct that if a resource is less than 50 years of age, our office/agency need not consider project effects on that resource?

A: While admittedly rare, there are instances where resources less than 50 years of age are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under criterion consideration g which addresses properties that have achieved significance with the past 50 years. (For further guidance on both NRHP significance criteria and criteria considerations refer to National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation.)

Q: Agencies (or their designees) are required to make determinations of eligibility as part of their Section 106 compliance. If my agency determines that a particular resource is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, does that we must nominate the resource for formal designation?

A: There is no such requirement. If the agency (or its designee) wishes to nominate the resource, then SHPO's State and National Register Coordinator should be contacted to discuss the nomination process.

Q: I received a strangely-phrased letter from the SHPO that concluded with a statement to the effect that "The SHPO would concur with an agency determination of…". Why was it phrased that way and, more important, what does it mean?

A: Most likely the reply to an agency's letter was formulated that way either because (1) the agency neglected to request SHPO concurrence on its determination(s), (2) the agency provided an incorrect determination (e.g., a determination of effect that was not logically consistent with its determination of eligibility), or (3) the agency did not make an explicit determination of effect and the SHPO is conveying that the information provided is consistent with the stated determination. SHPO review letters always conclude with contact information should the recipient have any questions regarding the letter. Please feel free to have the agency authorized point of contact call and request clarification anytime a question arises.