ACHP Streamlines Historic Review of Communications Projects

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has announced an Amended Program Comment for Federal Communications Projects that provides an alternative way for federal agencies to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and streamline the federal permitting process for the deployment of wired and wireless next generation communications broadband infrastructure.

Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of undertakings they carry out, permit, license, fund, assist, or approve on historic properties. In 2017, the ACHP issued a Program Comment for Communications Projects on Federal Lands and Property to expedite the review of broadband deployments on land owned or managed by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Forest Service, or other federal land management agencies.

The Amended Program Comment expands the availability of the expedited review process to any federal agency and establishes a streamlined review standard for all broadband projects in all states and territories, including both on and off federal lands. Under the Amended Program Comment, projects may be exempt from Section 106 review if the proposed area:

    • Has been previously surveyed and found not to contain historic properties;

    • Has been previously disturbed to the extent and depth where the probability of finding intact historic properties is low;

    • Is not considered to have a high probability for historic properties by qualified professionals; or

    • Meets certain existing conditional exemptions contained in the Program Comment.

The Amended Program Comment also adds a provision that requires federal agencies to offer compensation when they ask Indian Tribes to provide additional services.

For more information about the ACHP’s Amended Program Comment, contact an attorney in our Broadband, Spectrum, and Communications Infrastructure practice group.