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Review & Compliance
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is an official federal undertaking?
  2. Does the SHPO review projects if no federal or state agency is involved?
  3. When should I contact the SHPO?
  4. What makes a property “historic”?
  5. Can Section 106 or the Coastal Zone Management Act prevent demolition of a historic building or destruction of an archaeological site?
  6. Are Coastal Zone Management Act reviews through the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) the same as Section 106 reviews?
  7. What does the SHPO need for review of a project?
  8. What are “consulting parties”?
  9. Does the SHPO contact these consulting parties?
  10. What is the “APE” for a project?
  11. I have submitted all required information to your office.  Now what?
  12. What is meant by assessment of project effects?
  13. What is an “adverse effect” or “adverse impact”?
  14. When/why is a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) needed?
  15. What is the difference between a restrictive covenant and an easement?
  16. How are covenants and easements used to  protect archaeological sites and other historic properties?
  17. Why do I need to consider archaeological sites in my project area?
  18. Doesn’t agriculture or silviculture destroy archaeological sites?
  19. What is a treatment plan? 
  20. What is a data recovery plan?
  21. Is a treatment plan the same as a data recovery plan?
  22. Is there any good guidance for developing  a data recovery plan?

1.  What is an official federal undertaking?
An undertaking means that a federal agency has authorized a permit, license, or grant OR that an agency has received an application for assistance. An intent to apply for a federal grant, permit, or license is considered by the SHPO to be anticipating Section 106 review. Section 106 compliance is the responsibility of the federal agency.

2.  Does the SHPO review projects if no federal or state agency is involved?
The SHPO will review projects submitted for due diligence purposes (i.e. no federal or state agency is involved or anticipated to be involved in the project). 

The SHPO will:

  • Recommend a historic property identification survey (cultural resources survey)
  • Make a determination of National Register of Historic Places eligibility on potential historic properties IF sufficient information is provided
  • Provide preliminary comments/technical assistance on rehabilitation plans and specifications for historic buildings
  • The SHPO will not:

  • Comment on the Area of Potential Effects (APE)
  • Make a determination of effect of the project on historic properties
  • NOTE:  Requests for review of a project or parcel of land with no agency involvement MUST be accompanied by a Project Review Form and will be reviewed as time allows by the SHPO.

    3.  When should I contact the SHPO?
    Contact the SHPO as early as possible in the project planning process, especially if the project anticipates applying for federal assistance. The SHPO will assist with technical information and guidance through the review process.

    4.  What makes a property “historic”?
    A historic property is a building, structure, district, or site that meets the criteria for the National Register of Historic Places by possessing significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture. In order to be considered during review the property must either be already listed in the National Register or be determined to be eligible for listing by the SHPO, the Keeper of the National Register, or by a federal agency.

    5.  Can Section 106 or the Coastal Zone Management Act prevent demolition of a historic building or destruction of an archaeological site?
    In many cases, the review and compliance process alerts federal and state agencies to the presence of historic properties and plans are changed to protect them. However, the laws encourage, but do not mandate historic preservation. A federal or state agency may decide that a needed project cannot proceed without harming historic properties. The agency then consults with the SHPO and other potentially interested parties. Consultation usually results in an agreement for mitigating damage to historic properties affected by the project. For example, this might involve moving a historic building in the path of a highway project or scientifically excavating an archaeological site that will be destroyed by an industrial development. 

    6.  Are Coastal Zone Management Act reviews through the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) the same as Section 106 reviews?
    The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) is different from Section 106 review, as the CZMA follows the SCDHEC-OCRM program guidance for addressing cultural resources within the 8 coastal counties of South Carolina. The CZMA directs OCRM to determine if its permitting actions will affect properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or Geographic Areas of Particular Concern (GAPCs). OCRM must determine if the proposed project will preserve the characteristics for which the GAPC is listed or eligible for listing in the National Register. OCRM consults with the SHPO on these projects.

    7.  What does the SHPO need for review of a project?
    The SHPO needs a completed project review form for every project submitted. There are two forms:  Section 106 Project Review Form (PDF) and OCRM Project Review Form (PDF).  The form must be completed in its entirety, as it is not the SHPO’s responsibility to identify historic properties or to make a determination of effect of the project on historic properties. This information must be provided, along with USGS topographic maps, aerial photographs, and project photographs. The SHPO cannot accept faxed or e-mailed submissions.

    Submit all required information to:

    Review and Compliance Program
    SC Department of Archives and History
    State Historic Preservation Office
    8301 Parklane Road
    Columbia, SC  29223

    8.  What are “consulting parties”?
    Under Section 106, consulting parties are those organizations and individuals that federal agencies must consult. The role of consulting parties is advisory.  Consulting parties include the following:

     (1) The State Historic Preservation Office,
     (2) Indian tribes,
     (3) representatives of local governments,
     (4) applicants for federal assistance, permits, licenses, or funds,
     (5) other parties with a demonstrated interest in the project,
     (6) the public

    9.  Does the SHPO contact these consulting parties?
    NO! It is the responsibility of the federal agency or its applicant to contact all appropriate consulting parties, including the Native American tribes with an interest in the project area. Contacting the SHPO is just one part of the overall Section 106 compliance process.

    10.  What is the “APE” for a project?
    The area of potential effects (APE) means the geographic area or areas within which a project may directly or indirectly cause alterations in the character or use of historic properties, if any such properties exist. The APE is also influenced by the scale and nature of an undertaking and may be different for different kinds of effects (physical, visual, auditory, for example) caused by the undertaking.

    11.  I have submitted all required information to your office.  Now what?
    Our office will review your submittal for completeness.  We will respond to your request for review within 30 calendar days from the day we receive the project. All calls and e-mails checking on the status of a project within those 30 days will not be returned.

    Our office will issue a letter stating:

  • The SHPO concurs with the assessments made by the federal agency or its applicant
  • The SHPO needs additional information for its review
  • The SHPO does not concur with the assessments made by the federal agency or its applicant and provides reasoning behind its assessment
  • 12.  What is meant by assessment of project effects?
    Applicable laws direct a federal or state agency to determine the effects of their project on identified historic properties within the APE of the project. Agencies must determine both direct effects and indirect effects of the project on historic properties. Under Section 106, the assessment of project effects results in three determinations:

    1. No Historic Properties Affected:  no historic properties are present in the project’s APE; or the project will have no effect on any historic properties in the APE.
    2. No Adverse Effect:  historic properties are present in the project’s APE; the project will not alter the historic characteristics of the property or the historic integrity of the property. 
    3. Adverse Effect:  historic properties are present in the project’s APE; the project will alter or destroy the historic characteristics or integrity of the property. Adverse effects are generally resolved through the development of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

    Under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), projects are assessed to determine if the proposed action will affect the qualities of a historic property that make that property significant. Generally, the CZMA determines if there will be an adverse impact to historic properties or no impact to historic properties.

    13.  What is an “adverse effect” or “adverse impact”?
    An adverse effect or impact alters, directly or indirectly, the characteristics of a historic property that qualify it for inclusion in or eligibility for the National Register. An adverse effect diminishes the integrity of a historic property’s location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, or association. Adverse effects on historic properties may include, but are not limited to:

  • physical destruction or damage to all or part of the property (for example, grading of an archaeological site or demolition of a building)
  • alteration of a property that is not consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (for example, gutting the interior of a building)
  • removal of a property from its historic location
  • changes to the setting of a historic property (for example, construction of a cell tower adjacent to a historic grist mill or a construction of an industrial park near a rural historic district)
  • introduction of visual, atmospheric, or audible elements (for example, construction of a four-lane highway beside a rural farm complex or a branch bank in a residential historic district).
  • 14.  When/why is a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) needed?
    An MOA is needed when there is a federal or state agency determination of adverse effect to a historic property. When the adverse effect results from federal or state issuance of a permit, license, grant, or assistance to a public or private entity, the MOA is among the federal or state agency, the SHPO, and the public or private entity. When the adverse effect results from a federal action of federally owned or leased property, the MOA is between the federal agency and the SHPO.

    15.  What is the difference between a restrictive covenant and an easement?
    Broadly, a covenant is a promise by a single party to engage in or refrain from certain conduct. It binds the party who makes the covenant and can include certain restrictions, conditions, and prerequisites. A covenant that runs with the land can be applied to real property to bind future title holders of the property to the covenant. An easement is a right to do something or to prevent someone else from doing something over the real property of another. It is a real property interest, but legal title to the underlying land is retained by the original owner for all other purposes.

    16.  How are covenants and easements used to protect archaeological sites and other historic properties?
    A covenant that runs with the land can be placed by the owner of real property on the portion of the land that contains an archaeological site or other historic property. This covenant will stipulate the promise and restrictions for protecting and preserving the historic property and will bind future title holders to the covenant’s promises and restrictions. A conservation easement can protect a historic property by the owner giving right of use, such as development rights or other incompatible purpose, to a second party to disallow development on the real property that contains the historic site. Because the covenant or easement is a document that pertains to real property, it must be placed on record at the county office that registers deeds to be in effect.

    17.  Why do I need to consider archaeological sites in my project area?
    Archaeology is the scientific study of human-related material remains and the cultural and environmental settings in which the material remains were left. As such, archaeological sites are non-renewable resources. Once land-altering actions destroy the material remains and settings that comprise an archaeological site, they cannot be put back. Several federal and state laws seek to protect significant archaeological sites by first providing for their identification and preservation or study prior to permitting, licensing, funding, or assisting a project. At the federal level, the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act apply. At the state level, the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Act, the South Carolina Mining Act, and the State Owned or Leased Historic Properties Law are relevant.

    18.  Doesn’t agriculture or silviculture destroy archaeological sites?
    Both types of practices alter the locations of material remains and the cultural and environmental settings in which they are found. Common agricultural practices such as plowing and discing usually alter only the uppermost 12 to 18 inches of ground across a continuous surface. Silvicultural practices for preparing planting beds commonly alter up to 18 inches of ground in furrows six feet apart, with the soil from the furrow thrown onto the intervening six-foot width of ground.  Depending on how deep the material remains and settings of a particular site extend, artifacts, features (pits, postholes, cellars, wells, etc.), plant and animal remains, and more can escape the effects of plowing or silviculture. In addition, studies conducted by archaeologist of material remains in plowed ground have shown that the material remains do not move far horizontally and that the patterns of artifact distribution apparent even after years of plowing can still be used to identify areas of a site worthy of closer investigation. The effects of silvicultural practices are less studied, but it is known that the planting beds themselves can remain unaltered by the furrowing process, and that the soil thrown onto the beds from the furrows can help preserve archaeological materials beneath.

    19.  What is a treatment plan? 
    Treatment can be considered work carried out to achieve a historic preservation goal. Some examples of treatment of a historic property are preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, documentation, archaeological investigation, or public education. A treatment plan presents a specific course of action developed for a specific historic property.

    20.  What is a data recovery plan?
    Data recovery is a shorthand term for the collection of facts from which to generate important information about history or prehistory. The recovery of data is a treatment option that usually is applied to an archaeological site, and only when preservation of the site is not possible.

    21.  Is a treatment plan the same as a data recovery plan?
    No. Data recovery is a type of treatment, and a data recovery plan is a type of treatment plan. However, not all treatment plans are data recovery plans or include provisions for data recovery.

    22.  Is there any good guidance for developing a data recovery plan?
    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation provides guidance for developing a data recovery plan. The plan is to be consistent with applicable federal and state guidelines. The plan details several items:

      a.  Results of previous research relevant to the project
      b.  Research problems or questions to be addressed with an explanation of their relevance or importance
      c.  Field and laboratory analysis methods to be used, with a justification of cost-effectiveness, applicability to the project/property, and research needs
      d.  Methods of artifact, data, and other records management
      e.  Provisions for disseminating the research findings and presenting to the public
      f.   Curation of artifacts and records
      g.  Evaluation and treatment of unanticipated discoveries

    National Register Bulletin 36, “Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Archeological Properties,” discusses important information and research questions and stresses the connection between the archaeological data and the research questions is to be explicit.