US Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice: SPK-2015-01087, Programmatic Agreement Development

SPK-2015-01087, Programmatic Agreement Development

Posted: 3/13/2018

Expiration date: 3/13/2018

Comments Period: March 12, 2018 – April 13, 2018

SUBJECT: The Regulatory Program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles Districts (Districts) proposes to develop a programmatic agreement (PA) as a program alternative for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act within the State of California. As the lead District in California for the Corps’ Regulatory Program, the Sacramento District is coordinating this proposal on behalf of the Corps’ Los Angeles District and San Francisco District. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed PA development and to solicit comments.

AUTHORITY: In accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (Section 106) (codified at 54 U.S.C. § 306108), and all applicable regulations, and consistent with 36 CFR § 800.14(b), the Corps Districts propose to develop a PA as an alternative procedure for Section 106 compliance.

LOCATION: The proposed PA would apply to undertakings, as defined in 33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C (1)(f), administered under the Regulatory Program in the State of California for which the Corps is the lead federal agency for compliance with Section 106. The proposed PA would exclude undertakings that occur on or affect tribal lands, as defined in 36 CFR § 800.16(x), unless the affected tribe requests in writing to have the proposed project considered in accordance with the PA.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Each year, the Corps completes consultation with the California State Historic Preservation Officer (CA SHPO) on hundreds of undertakings subsequently authorized under the Regulatory Program. To ensure compliance with Section 106, reduce agency workload and increase efficiency and consistency within the Regulatory Program, the Corps Districts seek to develop alternative procedures under a state-wide Program-level PA with the CA SHPO and Advisory Council on Historic Properties (ACHP). Our goal is to reduce the overall permit application review times for activities subject to Department of the Army (DA) authorization by accomplishing the objectives of Section 106 in a more flexible and expeditious manner.

The following is a proposed framework of actions to be included in the proposed PA.

1. Exclusion from consultation with the CA SHPO regarding any finding of “no historic properties affected” when there are no identified cultural resources within or immediately adjacent to our permit area and/or the area of potential effect (APE) and the following conditions are met:

(a) Completion of a defined minimum level of effort regarding cultural resource identification;
(b) Consultation with appropriate interested and consulting parties, including but not limited to federally-recognized tribes;
(c) No indirect effects to historic properties located outside the permit area are identified; and
(d) Internal review of “no historic properties affected” determination by a person meeting specified qualifications and appropriate documentation of such review.

2. Exclusion from consultation with the CA SHPO regarding any finding of “no historic properties affected” when there are historic properties within or immediately adjacent to the permit area and/or the APE, but the historic properties will not be affected and the following are met:

(a) Completion of a defined minimum level of effort regarding cultural resource identification;
(b) Consultation with appropriate interested and consulting parties, including but not limited to federally-recognized tribes;
(c) Appropriate avoidance measures are included in the project proposal to ensure avoidance of any identified historic properties;
(d) No indirect effects to historic properties located outside the permit area are identified; and
(e) Internal review of “no historic properties affected” determination by a person meeting specified qualifications and appropriate documentation of such review.

3. Exemption from Section 106 review if the nature of a specific activity is unlikely to adversely affect historic properties, even if one were present. A list and description of activities would be defined during development of the proposed PA.

4. In addition to the above, the Corps proposes to include reporting procedures in the PA, including an annual report to the ACHP and the CA SHPO summarizing all Corps authorizations reviewed under the PA.

CONSIDERATION OF COMMENTS: The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the use of the proposed PA, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies and officials, Native American tribes, and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the potential benefits and impacts of the proposal, as well as recommendations and considerations for development of the proposed PA. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps during development of the proposed PA. Comments are also used to determine the overall public interest of the proposed PA development. The Corps is also interested in receiving comments related to the proposal’s potential effects on overall permit application review times for activities subject to Department of the Army (DA) authorization.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2015-01087 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 13, 2018:

Erin Hess, Cultural Resources Specialist
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, CA 95814-2922
Email: Erin.E.Hess@usace.army.mil

Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the Corps’ Regulatory Cultural Resource Specialist, Ms. Erin Hess, at (916) 557-6740 or alternatively by email at Erin.E.Hess@usace.army.mil.