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Cultural Resources
BPA’s Cultural Resource staff, part of the Environmental Planning and Analysis group, works to protect and preserve cultural resources, prehistoric and historic resources and traditional cultural properties affected by agency actions. There are three components of BPA’s Cultural Resource Program:
  • Cultural Resource Compliance for BPA Transmission Services projects 
  • Cultural Resource Compliance for BPA Fish and Wildlife projects 
  • Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) Cultural Resource Program
​A stone tool in the form of a bear figure that Native Americans created hundreds of years ago, found by a Colville Confederated Tribal employee who was working with BPA.
To find out more about the work in each of these components, click on the tabs to the left. The built resources division provides services on a wide range of historic transmission infrastructure projects and fish and wildlife projects.
BPA manages cultural resource compliance activities in collaboration with affected Tribes, State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO), other federal and state land management agencies, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and interested members of the public.
Cultural resource compliance is guided primarily by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and its implementing regulations; namely that of Section 106.
The Section 106 Process 
Initiate the Process
Formal consultation begins with providing the proposed project details to all consulting parties which include: State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO), affected Tribal Governments, Local Governments, State and Federal Agencies, Interested Parties, and the Public. Questions asked during this step are:
  • Who is the landowner?
  • Do they require a permit?
  • Are other agencies involved in the proposed project and if so, which agency will be the lead agency for Section 106 compliance?
 All consulting parties are provided a 30-day review and comment period.
Identify Historic Properties
Background research is conducted prior to an intensive cultural resources survey of the proposed project area using relevant literature, previous cultural surveys, recorded site data, historic maps, other environmental data, and data recommended by the consulting parties.
Field Investigations of the project area include intensive pedestrian survey, subsurface testing, followed by a professional report following SHPO standards.
If cultural resources are identified within the proposed project area, they are systematically recorded to determine their location and extent, the type of cultural resource, age, and last but not least, its eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places.
A cultural resource can be a historic property if it’s determined to be significant and retains its integrity by one or all of these characteristics: Location, Design, Setting, Materials, Workmanship, Feeling, and Association.
There are 4 criteria used to make that designation:
  • Criterion A- Associates the property with significant events
  • Criterion B- Associates the property with significant persons or beings
  • Criterion C- Associates Significant architecture – which represent specific type or period, or method of construction
  • Criterion D- It’s the ability to provide data important to our understanding of prehistory or history


Sunshine Schmidt
Federal Preservation Officer -Program Manager - Cultural Resources, BPA
Jenna Peterson
Fish and Wildlife Senior Archaeologist, BPA
Kevin Cannell
FCRPS Cultural Resources Program Manager, BPA

 Historic Preservation Offices


 Related Links


Assess Effects to Historic Properties

Determine if the historic resource would be impacted by the proposed project and resolve those potential impact. If impacts to historic properties are possible, BPA Cultural staff work with the BPA project team to avoid impacts to these resources by enlisting the project team to find design alternatives (for example, moving a proposed transmission line structure to be constructed outside of archaeological site boundaries to avoid impacts to the archaeological site).

BPA also works with the project team to manage historic properties during the construction phase of a project. This may include marking and flagging cultural resources to avoid impacts and having cultural monitor’s onsite during construction activities.

All consulting parties are provided a 30-day review and comment period.

Resolve any Adverse Effects to Historic Properties

 BPA works hard to avoid impacts to historic properties. If impacts to historic properties are unavoidable, then adverse effects to the resource needs to be resolved prior to the completion of the Section 106 process. Resolution, in the form of mitigation, is determined in consultation with the consulting parties for the proposed project.

Mitigation is negotiated between the consulting parties. The agreed upon mitigation is documented in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which is a legal document signed by the consulting parties which formalizes the specific actions the federal agency will take to minimize, avoid, or mitigate the adverse effect.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is notified and a 15-day review and comment period is provided.