Federal Project Review
Section 106 Introduction
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. §470f) and the federal regulations that implement Section 106 (36 C.F.R. Part 800) require that whenever any federal agency proposes to conduct, fund, license, grant a permit for, or otherwise approve an undertaking (a program, project, or activity) that by its nature has the potential to affect historic properties, the federal agency must conduct a review of the proposed project's effects in conjunction with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and, under certain circumstances, with another federal agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and other interested individuals or organizations, called consulting parties. If there are historic properties that will be affected, then the federal agency must take into account the undertaking's effects on historic properties before approving the undertaking and give the ACHP a reasonable opportunity to comment on the federal agency's findings. Section 106 is not a permitting process; rather, it is a process of good faith consultation and comment.
By state law in Indiana, the director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). The director of the DNR Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (DHPA) is the Deputy SHPO. Most of the day-to-day work of the Indiana SHPO is performed by the staff of the DHPA.
Section 106 reviews are handled by the Environmental Review Section of DHPA. Questions regarding the review process as it pertains to buildings, structures, objects, and districts should be directed to the Structures Review Staff of DHPA. Questions about the review of projects involving ground disturbance or archaeological sites should be directed to the Archaeology Staff, which performs a similar review for work potentially affecting below-ground resources. For more information about archaeological reviews, visit the Archaeology Mandates and Laws page.
A review under Section 106 encourages but does not mandate preservation. Sometimes there is no way for a needed project to proceed without harming historic properties. Section 106 review does, however, ensure that preservation values are factored into federal agency planning and decisions. Because of Section 106, federal agencies must assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions and be publicly accountable for their decisions.
Please keep in mind the Section 106 review must be completed prior to the initiation of demolition, construction, and ground disturbing activities. If the SHPO is not given reasonable opportunity to comment on the project, or to develop and evaluate alternatives or modifications to the project that could avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects on historic properties, the federal agency will most likely need to notify the ACHP of the situation and invite them to participate in consultation.
Section 106 Process
The Section 106 review process is a consultative process between the SHPO, the federal agency (or their delegate), and consulting parties.
Federal agencies often look to those applying for grants, loans, licenses, or permits to initiate the consultation with the SHPO. Under the ACHP's current 36 C.F.R. Part 800 regulations which took effect August 5, 2004, the federal agency may authorize the applicant or consultants to gather information on properties that might be affected by the undertaking and to exchange information with the SHPO. According to the ACHP, the authorization should be communicated to the SHPO in writing or by e-mail. However, the regulations state that the federal agency is to make findings regarding the existence of historic properties within the undertaking's area of potential effects (APE) and regarding the undertaking's effects on them.
During the course of the review, the DHPA staff (acting as the Indiana SHPO) will share pertinent information in its possession about the significance of properties within the APE. The federal agencies are obligated under the regulations to gather information and then make findings based on that information. The DHPA staff is not authorized to perform the agencies' responsibilities for them. Rather, the DHPA's role, as the staff to the SHPO, is to comment on whether historic properties will be affected, how they may be affected, and how any adverse effects on historic properties may be avoided, reduced, or mitigated. Adverse effects that cannot be avoided often are mitigated through stipulations included in a formal document called a memorandum of agreement.
Please note that our office has a 30-day review period (36 CFR part 800.3(c)(4)) from the date of receipt of each submission. If additional information is requested, a new 30-day review period begins from the date of receipt of the new information. You must provide all the required information requested on the Review Request Submittal Form to allow for timely review.
Although the kinds of information about an undertaking and about properties within the APE that are critical to the Section 106 review will vary based on the circumstances, the federal agency (or its applicant or consultant) should refer to the last page of the Review Request Submittal Form to see what information is needed for SHPO review.
Depending on whether or not there is the potential for archaeological sites at the undertaking location, it may also be necessary to have a qualified, professional archaeologist conduct and report on a field investigation of sites. For more information about when and what type of field investigation is needed, refer to the Archaeology Mandates and Laws page.
Tribal Consultation/Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPO) are officially designated by a federally-recognized Indian tribe to direct a program approved by the National Park Service, and the THPO must have assumed some or all of the functions of State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO) on Tribal lands. This program was made possible by the provisions of Section 101(d)(2) of the National Historic Preservation Act. As a formal participant in the national historic preservation program, a tribe may assume official responsibility for a number of functions aimed at the preservation of significant historic properties. To learn more, see
- Role of the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer in the Section 106 Process
- Tribal Directory Assessment Tool
- National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
- National Park Service Tribal Preservation Program
Frequently Asked Questions
What triggers a Section 106 review?
It is important to remember that a Section 106 review is triggered by federal involvement, not the presence of historic properties. Some examples of federal involvement that would trigger a review are:
- Federal financial assistance such as grants or loans
- Federal construction and demolition projects
- Management of Federal land or real property, including military bases, parks, forests, post offices, and courthouses
- Issuance of a Federal permit, license, or other approval
What is considered an historic property under Section 106?
- An historic property is a building, site, district, structure, or object that is either listed in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Determining whether or not a particular property is historic is part of the Section 106 review process. For Section 106 to apply, it is not necessary that it be known at the outset whether or not there are historic properties within the project’s area of potential effects. Information on listed and surveyed properties in Indiana can be found in the SHAARD database.
What is the area of potential effect (APE)?
- The APE is defined as: The geographic area or areas within which an undertaking may cause changes in the use or character of historic properties, if any such properties exist and includes effects that are direct or indirect, cumulative, later in time, or at a distance.
What kinds of effects must Federal agencies consider?
- A wide range of project impacts, from outright demolition to visual and audible intrusions, that alter the characteristics that qualify historic properties for inclusion in or eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places in a manner that would diminish the integrity of the property.
How can I get involved in the Section 106 process?
- By law, U.S. citizens have a voice when Federal actions will affect properties that qualify for the National Register of Historic Places, the Nation’s official list of historic properties. Write to the Federal agency responsible for the proposed project and request to become a consulting party; be sure to explain why your participation would be valuable to a successful resolution. Consulting parties should convey their concerns, in writing, and provide supporting documentation to the Federal agency and its consultants responsible for the proposed project.
Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review is designed to help you understand the Section 106 process and make your voice heard.
How do I find potential consulting parties for a project I am working on?
- Some typical consulting parties include representatives of local governments, federally recognized Native American Tribes, local historical societies or preservation groups, and the general public. There are several websites that can help you find organizations that may be interested consulting parties for Section 106 projects in Indiana. Visit our Review and Compliance Resources for more information.
How do I know if the work I have planned for a historic property is appropriate?
- There are several different resources that are published by the National Park Service that can be referenced to make sure the proposed work will maintain the historic character of the property. These include the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, the Preservation Briefs, and Preservation Tech Notes. Links for all of these resources are available on the Review and Compliance Resources page.