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Oregon State Cultural Considerations (11-OR-a)

This process is intended to capture the cultural considerations process in Oregon for projects on private or state lands. Projects on federal lands in Oregon must be processed under the Section 106 process under the National Historic Preservation Act. Any project in Oregon that undergoes Section 106 scrutiny need not submit to the state process.

See also:

NHPA Section 106 - Resource Survey:

The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) processes the cultural preservation considerations for both state and federal projects. For exclusively state projects, ORS 385.653 controls cultural considerations. SHPO provides a helpful fact sheet containing an explanation of how to apply ORS 385.653 to the state project.

SHPO provides a summary of controlling federal and state law on its webpage.

Each year SHPO reviews over 3,000 development projects and their potential effects on archaeological and historical sites. They aim to comment on projects within 30 days after receiving the submission.

This flowchart has three separate paths. One path is for projects that are not likely to affect cultural resources and never do. The second path is for projects on public lands. See OAR 736-051-0080. The final path is for projects on private lands. See OAR 736-051-0090. Cultural property found on private lands generally becomes the property of the landowner whereas cultural property found on state lands becomes Oregon's property.

Paleontological resources are included in Oregon's historical-archaeological permitting framework. In the Oregon Revised Statutes, paleontological resources are included in the term "prehistoric." (See ORS 390.235).

The SHPO's main contacts for environmental compliance are:

Review and Compliance Program

Jason Allen
Historic Preservation Specialist
(503) 986-0579
Ian Johnson
(503) 986-0678

Archaeological Services

Dennis Griffin
State Archeologist
(503) 986-0674

See SHPO webpage on federal and state compliance for Historic and Archaeological resources.

State Cultural Considerations Process

1-OR-a.1 - Tribal Consultation Meeting

SHPO recommends starting the cultural considerations process by consulting with potentially interested tribes. The tribes may be able to offer insight on preferred practices in order to avoid potential civil and criminal liability.

In Oregon, an Indian tribe or any enrolled member have a civil action against any person who willfully removes, mutilates, defaces, injures, or destroys any cairn, burial, human remains, funerary object, sacred object or object of cultural patrimony of any native Indian. Tribes and their members also have a civil action against people who inadvertently disturb a cairn or burial site. Projects are required to reenter the human remains or funerary objects under the supervision of the appropriate tribe. See ORS 97.745 - 97.760 Indian Graves & Protected Objects.

11-OR-a.2 - Project Plan

The developer must submit a project plan to SHPO. This is the initial step in satisfying the cultural component of environmental compliance in Oregon. The SHPO Clearance Form may be used to initiate review.

11-OR-a.3 - Review plan

SHPO will review the project plan in order to assess the level of complexity and risk to historical and archaeological resources. This initial review will likely take approximately 30 days.

11-OR-a.4 - Is it likely the project will unearth a cultural resource

If the project is unlikely to unearth a cultural resource, there is no need to apply for an archaeological permit. SHPO will notify the developer if no archaeological permit is required.

11-OR-a.5 - Discovery Plan

Despite the fact no discovery is expected, occasionally there is a discovery nonetheless. SHPO requires the developer to create a discovery plan for inadvertent discoveries. This ensures the project is on notice and has protocol for handling cultural resources unearthed during project development.

11-OR-a.6 - Is there an inadvertent discovery

If no cultural resources are ever unearthed, there is no need to obtain an archaeological permit.

11-OR-a.7 - No permit needed; Continue with project

11-OR-a.8 - Is the project on public or private lands

If the project is likely to unearth a cultural resource, the appropriate track depends on the type of land. On private lands, an archaeologist must conduct a cultural resource survey and probing. Usually, the archaeologist is hired by the developer as a private contractor. Oregon requires that the archaeologist have the proper qualifications before the archaeologist is permitted to access the cultural resource databases. SHPO provides a list of contractors.

11-OR-a.9 - Conduct cultural resource survey & probing

SHPO has a somewhat standardized form for cultural resources. The archaeologist will complete the cultural resource survey for SHPO's review.

See Guidelines for Historic Resource Surveys in Oregon.

11-OR-a.10 - Were sites found and are the sites avoidable

The cultural resource survey should reveal whether or not a cultural resource will be impacted by the project. The developer must determine whether or not to assert a "no effect" finding. If the developer believes the project will have "no effect" on the cultural resource, then the developer must submit additional documents to SHPO in order to solicit SHPO's concurrence with the developer's "no effect" finding.

11-OR-a.11 - Cultural Survey Report & Request for Concurrence on finding of no effect

The cultural survey report and request for concurrence on a finding of "no effect" must be submitted to SHPO. The request may be in letter form. There is not a formal format for such requests.

11-OR-a.12 - Review & concurrence

SHPO reviews the cultural survey report and request for concurrence. If SHPO believes the evidence supports that all sites are avoidable during development, then SHPO will concur with the "no effect" finding. Obviously, the developer must seek additional guidance if there is an inadvertent discovery of a cultural resource. If a cultural resource is unearthed, immediate steps to avoid further damage must be taken. At that point, the developer should seek an archaeological permit in order to mitigate damage to the resource. Go to 11-OR-a.13 for further processing in the event of an inadvertent discovery.

11-OR-a.13 - Archaeological Permit Application

The developer is responsible for submitting the permit application to SHPO. Oftentimes the permit application is prepared by the archaeologist. The permit must be signed by a qualified archaeologist.

See Archaeological permit application and associated instructions.

11-OR-a.14 - Review application & consult with tribes

SHPO will review the application. SHPO will consider the appropriateness of excavating the resource and whether the excavation plan is adequate to protect the cultural resource. Before SHPO approves the application, it will consult with affected tribes. SHPO or the tribes may suggests amendments to the excavation plan in order to protect the resource. SHPO approval is likely within 48 hours to 30 days. The permit will be approved unless there is an objection.

11-OR-a.15 - Archaeological Permit

SHPO drafts the permit and issues the permit to the developer.

11-OR-a.16 - Conduct cultural resource survey & probing

SHPO has a somewhat standardized form for cultural resources. The archaeologist will complete the cultural resource survey for SHPO's review.

See Guidelines for Historic Resource Surveys in Oregon.

Under OAR 736-051-0060(2), "it is the policy of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office that information pertaining to the location of archaeological sites, cairns, burials, human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects or objects of cultural patrimony is confidential information that will be disclosed only as required by law."

11-OR-a.17 - Cultural Survey Report, Eligibility Determination & Mitigation Plan (if applicable)

The developer must submit the cultural survey report, eligibility determination and mitigation plan to SHPO. The eligibility determination refers to whether the resource is eligible to be included in the national register. The mitigation plan must address the detailed plan on how the developer intends to protect the resource during excavation. The plan should also address post-excavation plans.

11-OR-a.18 - Review survey result & accompanying documents

SHPO will review the cultural survey, eligibility determination and mitigation plan to determine whether the project is planning to take adequate measures to protect the cultural resources. SHPO will determine whether any of the sites or cultural resources are eligible to be considered in the state or federal register.

11-OR-a.19 - Are identified sites eligible

If any of the sites or cultural resources are eligible, then another archaeological permit must be obtained.

11-OR-a.20 - Discovery Plan

The discovery plan is necessary in order to protect resources in the event there is an inadvertent discovery.

11-OR-a.21 to 11-OR-a.26 - Archaeological Permit Application & Mitigation Plan

The archaeological permit review process is essentially abbreviated because there is no need to conduct another cultural survey. The mitigation plan becomes more of the focus. Following mitigation, the developer must submit the results of the mitigation to SHPO.

Curation is a key component of mitigation. If the resource is unearthed on public lands, the resource becomes the property of the state. If the resource is unearthed on private lands, the resource belongs to the landowner.

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Contact Information

Edit Oregon State Historic Preservation Office
Oregon Heritage and Cultural Considerations Contact 503.986.0674 DennisabbazabbaGriffin@stateabbazabbaorabbazabbaus

Edit Oregon State Historic Preservation Office
State Cultural Considerations Contact #2 503.986.0675 JohnabbazabbaPouley@stateabbazabbaorabbazabbaus