ACHP Programmatic Agreements: Ensuring the Protection of Cultural Resources in Government Projects
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency that is responsible for advising the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. One of the ACHP’s main functions is to oversee the implementation of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, which requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their actions on historic properties.
One way that federal agencies can comply with the NHPA is through the use of programmatic agreements (PAs), which are formal documents that outline the responsibilities of a federal agency for the protection of historic properties. PAs are particularly useful for large-scale, complex projects that involve multiple federal agencies and potentially impact a large number of historic properties.
ACHP PAs are unique in that they are designed to be flexible and adaptive to changing circumstances. The ACHP recognizes that historic properties are dynamic, and that new information may come to light over time that could affect the management of these properties. Therefore, ACHP PAs are structured to be open to revision and modification as needed.
ACHP PAs typically involve collaboration between the federal agency, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and other interested parties, such as Native American tribes or local historic preservation organizations. The PA outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party, as well as the specific measures that will be taken to protect historic properties.
One important feature of ACHP PAs is the requirement for consultation with Native American tribes. The NHPA recognizes the importance of Native American cultural resources, and ACHP PAs require federal agencies to consult with tribes early in the planning process to identify any potential impacts on these resources. This consultation process can help to avoid conflicts and build stronger relationships between federal agencies and Native American communities.
ACHP PAs have been used successfully in a wide variety of projects, from large-scale transportation projects to military installations to energy development. By providing a clear framework for the protection of historic properties, ACHP PAs help to ensure that federal agencies are able to fulfill their responsibilities under the NHPA while also allowing for flexibility and adaptation as needed.
Overall, ACHP PAs are an important tool for ensuring the protection of cultural resources in government projects. By promoting collaboration and flexibility, PAs help to balance the need for development and progress with the need to preserve our nation’s rich cultural heritage.