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BPA Cultural Resource Compliance for Transmission System projects covers both new construction projects and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) projects.







Sunshine Schmidt
Federal Preservation Officer -Program Manager - Cultural Resources, BPA

Environmental compliance leads within the BPA Environmental Planning and Analysis group, and the Pollution Prevention and Abatement group, coordinate with cultural resources staff to accomplish cultural resource compliance for new construction and O&M hydropower. Some examples include construction of new transmission lines and substations, rebuilding and/or re-conductoring existing transmission lines, and replacing transmission line structures, access road construction or improvement, and other activities.

BPA Transmission Systems Cultural staff work within the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 which requires that the proposed project-related impacts (effects) upon cultural resources be taken into consideration by federal agencies. Federal agencies are responsible for addressing and resolving for adverse effects to historic properties caused by the federal undertaking. Historic properties may be considered any district, site, building, structure, object, or historic property of religious and cultural significance to Indian Tribes that is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

As part of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process we consult with State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO), Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), affected Tribes, and any agency (state or federal) whose land we are working on. So when does it become an action to initiate Section 106? Plain and simple, if we are disturbing the ground or enabling another entity to disturb the ground, it’s an action, and we have to initiate Section 106!  as originally designed.
​This historic refuse site located within a BPA right-of-way near Kalispell, Montana. The site was determined to be 50 years or older and includes rusted cans, glass bottles, porcelain tableware fragments, and rusty metal pieces piled together in what was likely a trash pile for a nearby homestead. Cans and glass bottles can be dated by their attributes as can styles changed over time with their shape and construction. The types of glass used have also changed over time and we can see differences in color, thickness, vessel shape as well as seams. This particular site shows refuse that spans over a 60-year period which implies that people were utilizing this same location to discard trash for that span in time.


​​Many of BPA's transmission lines are considered eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Big Eddy – Spring Creek No. 1 transmission line pictured below.

This photo was taken in Washington State near the town of Goldendale. Big Eddy – Spring Creek No. 1 transmission line was constructed in 1949 and falls within BPA’s period of significance which spans from 1939 up until the mid-1970s. The transmission line meets the minimum eligibility requirements for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because it holds its integrity (of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association) as originally designed.