In her introduction to the 2012 Forum Journal on Section 106, National Trust president Stephanie Meeks notes that Section 106 requires federal agencies to “stop, look and listen” before jeopardizing historic resources. This valuable tool has saved thousands of historic sites across the country. But it only works as long as all players—preservationists and federal agencies—clearly understand Section 106 and their role in the process. As we approach the 50-year mark of the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act and Section 106, the Preservation Leadership Forum has enlisted the help of preservation practitioners to take a close look at how Section 106 has worked over the past five decades. In this post Elizabeth Byrd Wood, a staff member at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, takes a look at responses from an informal survey of preservationists who have been involved in Section 106 consultations.
Last year, about 140,000 Section 106 reviews took place in states across the country. When the program first got underway in 1966, that annual number was much lower, but when you do the math, it still adds up to hundreds of thousands of reviews about federal actions and their impact on historic resources over the past 50 years. What have we learned? And how is the program working?1
To find out, we conducted an informal survey of preservationists who have been involved in Section 106 consultations and asked them to give us their thoughts on how the program is working and what might be improved upon in the future. Most respondents were old hats at Section 106, having worked in the field for more than 15 years. Over the course of their work, they have reviewed the potential effects from a wide variety of projects ranging from road realignments to irrigation ditches and from visitor centers to wind energy. They have worked with a long list of federal agencies—transportation, housing, defense, environment, communications, and land management, among others.... Read More →