Sunday, December 12, 2021

Finally a Self-Appendectomy by the Corps of Engineers?

 With all the coherence and intelligibility we have learned to expect from our public servants, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has (in a manner of speaking) announced that it may have finally seen reason and may revise its regulations  -- 33 CFR 325 Appendix C. – that ostensibly provide for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  You can read the announcement at


Obtuse as it is, the Corps’ announcement is welcome, coming as it does in unacknowledged response to decades of criticism by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO), multiple SHPOs and THPOs, and unofficial citizen critics like me.  The Corps has used Appendix C to allow – indeed encourage – applicants for and holders of its permits to run roughshod over thousands of historic places and to ignore the interests of innumerable citizens – notably members of Indian tribes – in their preservation.  Dispensing with Appendix C and having the Corps join the rest of the federal establishment in following the ACHP’s regulations (assuming thats what the Corps intends to do) would be a big improvement.


However, the ACHPs regulations themselves are not without warts, and if the Corps says only that henceforth it will follow them, a considerable opportunity will have been missed. I hope the Corps and those with whom it consults (if anyone) will consider how to make the Section 106 process more inclusive and democratic than it now is. However, I’m not going to hold my breath.