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Environmental Matters > Historic Preservation

Section V. Glossary of Terms


Adverse Effect -
Those actions that can diminish the qualities that make an historic property eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Examples of adverse effects include noise, vibration, visual and direct physical impacts. The Section 106 regulations include specific examples of adverse effects at 36 CFR 800.5(a)(2).

Alluvial deposits - Those land forms that have been deposited by flowing water.

Applicant - An organization, such as a railroad, or private individual seeking Board approval for projects requiring consideration under the NHPA or NEPA.

Architectural Historian - Professional formally trained to identify, evaluate, document, register and treat historic buildings and structures.

Area of Potential Effect (APE) - The area or areas in which a project has the potential to adversely affect National Register eligible or listed historic properties. The APE for a project can vary depending on whether the adverse effects are from visual, noise, or direct physical impacts. Several APE’s may be needed for a particular project depending on the kinds of historic resources affected.

Artifacts - Material remains created by human action.

Buildings - A statutory term from the NHPA and Section 106 regulations that refers to National Register listed or eligible historic buildings such as historic urban or rural houses, railroad depots or railroad related buildings or sheds, industrial buildings, market areas, one of a kind buildings, architecturally significant buildings, barns, outbuildings (sheds etc.).

Consulting Parties - Consulting parties include the State Historic Preservation Officer /Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, applicants seeking Board approval, representatives of local governments, and Federally recognized tribes. Other consulting parties may be added at the Board’s discretion (see 36 CFR 800.2(c)(5)). In general, any person or organization that can show it has a sincere interest in a project (either pro or con) can become a consulting party under Section 106.

Colluvial Deposits - Those landforms that have been deposited through the force of gravity.

Criteria of Adverse Effect - Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.5(a)(1), an adverse effect is found when an undertaking may alter, directly or indirectly, any of the characteristics of a historic property that qualify the property for inclusion in the National Register in a manner that would diminish the integrity of the property’s location, design, setting, workmanship, feeling, or association. This can include foreseeable effects cause by the undertaking that may occur later in time, be farther removed in distance or be cumulative.

Cultural Landscape - Property type eligible or listed under the National Register that refers to geographically defined areas culturally modified through the construction of homes, farmsteads, roads, industrial buildings and structures, dams, or railroads interlinked through time and cultural tradition.

Cultural Resources - The complete spectrum of resources including American Indian graves and sacred items, shipwrecks, collections, historical documents, railroads, religious sites, cemeteries, and geographic locations used for traditional cultural purposes. The term is often used interchangeably with historic properties.

Cultural Resources Management - A profession consisting of historic preservation professionals that assist state and Federal agencies and others to consider impacts to properties of archaeological, architectural and historical interests in compliance with Federal and state historic preservation law.

Diagnostic Artifacts - Artifacts distinctive of a specific time frame and cultural tradition that can be used to date an archaeological site and determine its cultural affiliation.

Districts - A statutory term from the NHPA and Section 106 regulations meaning National Register eligible or listed areas that contain any number of sites, structures, buildings or object. A district may be located in urban or rural settings and can contain a combination of different historic properties including buildings, structures, roads, landscapes and archaeological sites.

Effect - Alteration to the characteristics of a historic property that makes it eligible for the National Register (36 CFR 800.16(i)).

Environmental Assessment (EA) - An EA is a concise public document issued by the Board that contains sufficient information for determining whether to prepare a full environmental impact statement (EIS) or to make a finding of no significant impact. See Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, at 40 CFR 1508.9; 49 CFR 1105.4(d).

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - An EIS is the detailed written statement required by NEPA for a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. See 40 CFR 1508.11; 49 CFR 1105.4(f).

Ethnographer - Anthropologist that studies extant cultural groups through oral histories and documentary research.

Faunal Remains - Animal bone or bone fragments.

Federally Recognized Tribes - Tribes that have received Federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and are considered sovereign governments within the United States. Federal agencies must consult with Federally recognized tribes on a government-to-government basis.

Flakes - The remains of stone tool production.

Funerary items - Those items associated with a burial or human remains such as pots or any associated artifacts. Funerary items are considered sacred by tribes and must be repatriated with any human remains as required under state and Federal burial laws.

Geomorphological analysis - The study of land forms and sediments often used in archaeology to determine the location, age and context of archaeological sites and features.

Good faith effort to identify historic properties - Phrase from the Section 106 regulations that means a reasonable effort to identify historic properties. It does not mean that the Board or its applicants must identify everything, but that there has been a reasonable effort to assess a project’s effects on historic properties within the APE for a given project.

Historic context - The relationship between an historic property and its temporal, thematic and geographical setting to highlight its historical importance. Historic context studies are critical to understanding the significance and National Register eligibility of an historic property.

Historic properties - A statutory phrase from the NHPA and Section 106 regulations that includes National Register-eligible or listed prehistoric or historic districts, sites, buildings, structures, sites sacred to tribes, objects and artifacts, records, and remains that are related to such properties.

Historic report - Document required by the Board’s environmental regulations (see 49 CFR 1105.8) that provides information regarding the railroad owned historic properties located within a project area of potential effect and some background information about the project area.

Historian - A writer, scholar or chronicler of historical events. Historians are often employed within the field of cultural resources management to write context studies in order to evaluate the National Register eligibility of a given site or sites.

Inadvertent discovery - Unanticipated discovery of historic properties such as burials and archaeological sites.

Integrity - The quality of a historic property that makes it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Keeper of the National Register - Individual delegated by the National Park Service to list and make determinations of eligibility for historic properties.

Landscape Architect - An architect that holistically explores the relationship between an area’s built and natural features. Landscape architects are sometimes employed by cultural resource management firms to identify, evaluate and assess the significance of historic landscapes.

Lithics - Stone tools or the remains of stone tool production.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) - A legally binding agreement document used to stipulate resolution of adverse effects to historic properties under Section 106 of the NHPA. The execution of an MOA by the required signatories completes the Section 106 process.

Midden - Remains created during food consumption or cooking activities. Midden can include burnt rock, wood, fish bone, seeds, animal bone and other remains.

Mitigation - Actions taken to lessen adverse effects to historic properties.

National Register of Historic Places -The National Register was established under Section 101 of the NHPA to serve as the Nation’s formal list of significant cultural resources. Only properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register are given consideration under Section 106 of the NHPA.

Objects - A statutory term from the NHPA and Section 106 regulations that refers to National Register eligible or listed prehistoric and historic artifacts, stone tools, midden, books, rock carvings, sacred items important to tribes, and other cultural materials associated with buildings, structures and sites.

Programmatic Agreement (PA) - A legally binding agreement document used to stipulate the resolution of adverse effects to historic properties under Section 106 of the NHPA. A PA is sometimes used instead of an MOA as it enables its drafters to replace the standard Section 106 process with an alternate process for complying with Section 106.

Remote Sensing - Non-destructive methods used to identify archaeological sites.

Repatriation - The act of returning human burial remains and associated materials to the extant lineal descendants including culturally affiliated American Indian tribes.

Sites - A statutory term from the NHPA and Section 106 regulations that refers to National Register eligible or listed prehistoric and archaeological sites, ruins of buildings and structures, geographic locations or landscapes of importance to tribes and extant cultural or social groups, cemeteries, trails, and battlefields.

State Historic Preservation Officer - Official designated by the Governor of each state to oversee its historic preservation program and to assist Federal agencies in complying with Section 106 of the NHPA for undertakings that may effect historic properties in the state. A complete list of SHPOs can be found at the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers web site.

Stratified Deposits - Deposits that are horizontally layered in a sandwich-like effect and have the potential to yield information from the site from different temporal periods. The uppermost layer is generally the youngest and the bottom the oldest, given the lack of disturbance.

Structures - A statutory term from the NHPA and Section 106 regulations that refers to National Register eligible or listed engineering and industrial features such as railroads, tunnels, roads, locomotives, roundhouses, dams, bridges, culverts, and agricultural structures such as silos.

Survey - General term for field methodology used to identify historic properties. Different types of field surveys may be required depending on recommendations and requirements from the SHPO for a specific project and its anticipated effects.

Third-Party Contractors - Contractors that may be hired by applicants to assist SEA in completing any needed environmental or historic studies required under NEPA or the NHPA. Third-party contractors work under the direction, control and supervision of SEA as outlined in the Board’s third party contracting policy statement. A list of approved third party contractors can be found on the Board’s web site.

Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) - A property type defined by the National Register of Historic Places (see Bulletin 38) as having traditional cultural importance to an extant ethnic or religious group including tribes.

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) - Tribal official that has been designated by the Department of Interior to enact the provisions of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The THPO acts in lieu of the SHPO for properties on tribal lands and in concert with the SHPO for undertakings off tribal lands. A list of THPOs can be found at the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers web site.

Undertaking - A project, activity, or program funded in whole or in part under the direct and indirect jurisdiction of a Federal agency, including those carried out by or on behalf of a Federal agency; those carried out with Federal financial assistance; and those requiring a Federal permit, license or approval (see 36 CFR 800.16(y)).

Viewshed - The complete spectrum of visible areas from all locations along a project area. Often used to define the area of potential effect for indirect or visual effects.