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New Mexico State Cultural Considerations (11-NM-a)

The historical and cultural heritage of New Mexico is one of the state’s most valued and important assets, as expressed in the purpose of the Cultural Properties Act. The Act provides for the identification, preservation, protection and enhancement of structures, sites and objects of historical significance within the state. In all cases, prospective developers of geothermal resources need to consult with the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division (NMHPD) to determine if a cultural survey is necessary. In some cases, where the proposed development is on state trust land, the Commissioner of Public Lands (Commissioner) may require a cultural survey. Regardless of the need for pre-project surveying, developers must adhere to specific requirements where cultural resources are discovered during the project. In instances where human burials are discovered, the requirements are more stringent.

State Cultural Considerations Process

11-NM-a.1 to 11-NM-a.2 – Does the Commissioner or SHPO Require Cultural Resource Investigation?

A developer must consult with the NMHPD in order to determine if a cultural survey will be necessary. The developer submits a letter of consultation to the State Historical Preservation Officer (SHPO) indicating the precise location and boundaries of the land along with the proposed use. The SHPO will determine if a cultural survey is necessary based on factors such as the land’s proximity to registered cultural properties, evidence of past surveying and likeliness of discovering new cultural resources based on the proposed use. Developers who do not consult with the NMHPD risk violating Cultural Properties Act, 18-6-9.A because it is a crime in New Mexico to excavate, injure, or destroy cultural property.

In addition, the Commissioner of the [New Mexico State Land Office] (NMSLO) has the authority to require a cultural survey as a prerequisite to a developer obtaining a State Business Lease:
. Even where the Commissioner does not require a cultural survey, developers with a valid State Business Lease that intend on engaging in ground disturbance activity must still consult with the NMHPD .

11-NM-a.3 to 11-NM-a.4 – Are Unmarked Human Burials Discovered at any Time During the Project?

The discovery of unmarked human burials at any time during a project triggers a specific process. For a description of the process, refer to Human Burial Discovery Process:

11-NM-a.5 to 11-NM-a.6 – Are Other Cultural Resources Discovered at any Time During the Project?

The discovery of any cultural resources, other than human burials as defined in NMAC 4.10.11, triggers a different process, outlined in Cultural Resource Discovery Process:

11-NM-a.7 – Continue with Project

Where a pre-project cultural survey was not deemed necessary by either the NMHPD or the Commissioner and neither human burials nor other cultural resources were discovered, the developer may continue with the project.

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Contact Information

Edit New Mexico Historic Preservation Division
Archaeologist, Cultural Issues Contact 505.827.4064 michelleabbazabbaensey@stateabbazabbanmabbazabbaus Visit Website