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Section 106: Through Your Eyes

Posted on: February 27th, 2015 by Elizabeth Byrd Wood No Comments

 

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.

An early Section 106 case involved proposed highway construction  through the French Quarter in New Orleans, which would have affected iconic landmarks such as the St. Louis Cathedral. | Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

An early Section 106 case involved proposed highway construction through the French Quarter in New Orleans, which would have affected iconic landmarks such as the St. Louis Cathedral. | Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

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 →

About Elizabeth Byrd Wood

Elizabeth Byrd Wood is senior content manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

 

View of Drayton Hall from across the pond. | Credit: Robbin Knight

View of Drayton Hall from across the pond. | Credit: Robbin Knight

The National Trust’s vision for historic sites—the “Sites Vision”—focuses on the relationship of five elements—national significance or impact, alignment with the National Trust’s mission, financial self-sufficiency, the modeling of a variety of preservation options, and, as is the focus of this blog post, local governance. Because the National Trust's headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and its historic sites are located in 14 states, transitioning to local governance requires partnerships to ensure strong oversight and connections with the local community.

One model the National Trust is using to implement the local governance aspect of the Sites Vision is to transition stewardship sites (sites owned and operated by the National Trust) to co-stewardship sites (sites that are owned by the National Trust but operated by a separate organization). The co-stewardship model, however, is not new to the National Trust. Ten National Trust Historic Sites are currently operated by co-stewardship organizations with the first being Filoli, a two-story Georgian Revival country house with formal gardens in Woodside, California.... Read More →

About Anne Nelson

Anne Nelson is an associate general counsel with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Section 106, Protective Covenants, and Sale of Historic Post Offices

Posted on: February 10th, 2015 by Special Contributor 1 Comment

 

By Steve Hutkins

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. Here Steve Hutkins, professor at New York University and editor of “Save the Post Office” website, talks about recent problems with the disposal of historic post offices and the use of covenants and Section 106 to protect these buildings.

The colonnade of the downtown Berkeley post office building. | Credit:  Daniel Parks via Flickr under Creative Commons

The colonnade of the downtown Berkeley post office. | Credit: Daniel Parks via Flickr under Creative Commons

About six years ago, the Postal Service embarked on a program to downsize its real estate portfolio, and among the properties earmarked for disposal were many historic post offices. About 50 historic post offices have been sold since 2009, and another 50 have been reviewed, marked, or listed for sale. This disposal program instigated a wave of Section 106 reviews, and by 2012 the federal preservation officer at the Postal Service was dealing with more than 70 Section 106 consultation processes.

Many communities and organizations have contested the disposal program, and four of the sales—in Venice, California; Stamford, Connecticut; Bronx, New York; and Berkeley, California—have been challenged in the courts. The sales have also been the subject of two very critical reports by the USPS Office of Inspector General and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.... Read More →