So, I’m trying to advise some federal agency officials about compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and learn that one of them has written to a State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) saying:“We’ve decided to demolish Building X (a late 19th century building, part of an institutional historic district). Will you please tell us who our reviewing officer will be, so we can provide the proper paperwork?”
Urgh, I thought. They’ve put their foot in it, I thought.But maybe it’s a teachable moment, I thought. When the SHPO writes back and tells them that it ain’t compliant with Section 106 to decide to demolish a historic building and then ask the SHPO what forms to submit, maybe I’ll have their attention and can gently explain what Section 106 and its regulations really require – and maybe even that there’s another legal requirement or two they ought to think about, like Section 111.
Then the SHPO responds: “Thanks a lot, your reviewer will be Joe Schlabotnik, and we look forward to working with you.”Well done, SHPO; what a fine job you're doing of fulfilling your educational mission and representing your state’s interests in historic preservation. And I wonder where you'll be found when and if somebody in the community sues the agency for violating Sections 106, maybe 110, and 111 of NHPA.
And plaudits to the National Park Service (NPS), which funds the SHPOs, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) which oversees Section 106 review, for keeping the SHPOs on their toes.The mind boggles……