Can federal agencies destroy historic resources without due process?
The answer is no, thanks to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Section 106 requires a federal agency to “stop, look, and listen,” and in many cases gain public input, before proceeding with what the law calls an “undertaking” that will affect historic resources. The Connecticut Trust has been involved in ensuring that federal agencies satisfy their obligations under Section 106.
Help us prevent threats to historic resources.
Influence Federal Decisions
By law, you have a voice when federal actions will affect properties that have been listed on or qualify for the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of historic properties. Section 106 review is your opportunity to alert the federal government to the properties you value and to influence decisions about the federal projects that affect them. In Connecticut, transportation improvements, town-based housing rehabilitation programs, and water-related improvements account for the bulk of Section 106 review.
Projects Subject to 106 Review
Each year, the federal government is involved in a variety of projects that impact historic properties. For example, the Federal Highway Administration works with states on road improvements, the Department of Housing and Urban Development grants funds to cities to rebuild communities, and the General Services Administration builds and leases federal office space.
Less obvious federal actions can also have repercussions on historic properties. An Army Corps of Engineers permit to build a boat dock or a housing development that affects wetlands may also impact fragile archeological sites. Likewise, a Federal Communications Commission license for cell tower construction might compromise rural landscapes.
Federal Agency Obligations
Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties and provides the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) an opportunity to comment on Federal projects prior to implementation. When the federal agency does not take into account the impact of its project on historic resources, a lawsuit may be filed to make sure that it does so.
Section 106 review 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.