Alaska State Historic Preservation (11-AK-b)
It is the policy of the State to preserve and protect the historic, prehistoric, and archaeological resources of Alaska from loss, desecration, and destruction so that the scientific, historic, and cultural heritage embodied in these resources may pass undiminished to future generations. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.010.
The State has reserved title to all historic, prehistoric, and archaeological resources situated on land owned or controlled by the State, including tideland and submerged land. Historic, prehistoric, and archaeological resources “includes any deposits, structures, ruins, sites, buildings, graves, artifacts, fossils, or other objects of antiquity which provide information pertaining to the historical or prehistorical culture of people in the state as well as to the natural history of the state.” Alaska Stat. § 41.35.230(2).The State Office of History and Archaeology (OHA) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), both housed in the Alaska Department of Natural Resources – Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, are responsible for reviewing projects under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the Alaska Historic Preservation Act. OHA/SHPO acts mainly in a consultative role, advising the state and local agencies involved in the project development and making recommendations.
State Historic Preservation Process
11-AK-b.1 – Will the Project Be Undertaken, Licensed, or Permitted By the State, or Located on State Lands?
A project is subject to review under the Alaska Historic Preservation Act if it involves any action on the part of the State or a state agency (e.g., funding, licensing, permitting, etc.). This includes any public construction or public improvement project undertaken by the state, or by a governmental agency of the state, or by a private person under contract with or licensed by the state or an agency of the state. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.070(b).
11-AK-b.2 – Contact the Authorizing State or Local Agency
The developer should first contact the State or local agency that is authorizing (funding, licensing, permitting, etc.) the project to initiate the review process.
11-AK-b.3 – Request OHA/SHPO Review (Request SHPO Section 106 Review Form)
Some agencies regularly request reviews with OHA/SHPO and have an established method for doing so. However, if the agency does not routinely request review, the developer and the agency involved may use a Request for Review form in order to identify the information needed in order for the OHA/SHPO to complete its review. The developer should submit the required information, along with a request for review, to the OHA/SHPO.
If multiple state agencies are involved in a project, a single agency may take the lead for purposes of compliance with the Alaska Historic Preservation Act. Alternatively, each agency may also submit their requests for review independently. Note: The developer may also consult with the OHA/SHPO directly, provided the developer provides the OHA/SHPO with the State agency’s/agencies’ contact information.
11-AK-b.4 - Review Project for Possible Impacts on Cultural Resources
OHA/SHPO reviews the request for review to determine if any significant cultural resources will be affected. OHA/SHPO tries to respond to all review requests within 30 days of receipt.
11-AK-b.5 to 11-AK-b.6 – Does OHA/SHPO Decide to Survey the Affected Area?
Before construction begins, OHA/SHPO works directly with the State agency to determine if a survey is needed and whether significant sites will be adversely affected. OHA/SHPO may survey the affected area to determine if it contains historic, prehistoric, or archaeological values. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.070(b).
11-AK-b.7 to 11-AK-b.8 – Does OHA/SHPO Determine Significant Cultural Resources Will Be Adversely Affected?
If cultural resources are found within or near the project area, they may need to be evaluated for “significance.” All properties eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places are considered to be significant cultural resources. Cultural resources are also considered significant if they meet one or more of the Alaska Landmark Register criteria.
If OHA/SHPO determines that the project will adversely affect significant historic, prehistoric, or archaeological sites, locations, or remains, the developer may not begin construction until OHA/SHPO has performed the necessary investigation, recording, and salvage of the site, location, or remains. This work must be performed as expeditiously as possible so as not to unduly impair, impede, or delay the project. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.060(c). Note: The developer may hire an alternative cultural resource firm to complete the necessary investigation, recording, and salvage work, provided the firm’s services meet the Secretary of Interior’s standards.
11-AK-b.9 to 11-AK-b.13 – Have Remains or an Historic Site Been Discovered During Construction?
If historic, prehistoric, or archaeological sites, locations, remains, or objects are discovered during construction, the developer must notify OHA/SHPO and request its concurrence in continuing construction. Upon receipt of this notice, OHA/SHPO may survey the area, or recommend that the area be surveyed, to determine whether the area contains historic, prehistoric, or archaeological data which should be preserved in the public interest. If OHA/SHPO determines that the site has exceptional historic, prehistoric, or archaeological significance, OHA/SHPO will work with the developer to identify any options for avoiding or minimizing impacts to the site. If the site cannot be avoided, or impacts sufficiently minimized, OHA/SHPO will determine whether historic, prehistoric, or archaeological items should be collected and preserved in the public interest and whether collection and preservation are feasible. OHA/SHPO will perform the necessary work to collect and preserve the data or work with the developer to ensure that such work is completed. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.070(d).
11-AK-b.14 – Does OHA/SHPO Issue a Concurrence Within 90 Days of Receipt of the Request?
OHA/SHPO typically works collaboratively with the developer, state or local agency representatives, Tribes, and other consulting parties to identify ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts to significant cultural resources and to issue a concurrence within 90 days of receiving the developer’s request. If OHA/SHPO does not issue a concurrence within 90 days of its receipt of the request to proceed with the project, the agency or the developer may apply to the governor for permission to proceed. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.070(e).
11-AK-b.15 to 11-AK-b.17 – Appeal to Governor
However, if OHA/SHPO does not issue a concurrence within 90 days of its receipt of the request to proceed with the project, the agency or the developer may apply to the governor for permission to proceed. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.070(e).
The governor may take the action he considers best in overruling or sustaining OHA/SHPO’s decision. Alaska Stat. § 41.35.070(e).
11-AK-b.18 – Continue with Project
Once OHA/SHPO has performed the necessary investigation, recording, and salvage of the site, location, or remains, or the Governor has approved the project, the developer may continue with the project.
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