Section 106 Review Basics

What is Section 106 Review?

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties, and give the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) a reasonable opportunity to comment. This is achieved by following the 4 step process outlined in 36 CFR Part 800.


The section 106 process seeks to accommodate historic preservation concerns with the needs of Federal undertakings through consultation among the agency official and other parties with an interest in the effects of the undertaking on historic properties, commencing at the early stages of project planning. The goal of consultation is to identify historic properties potentially affected by the undertaking, assess its effects and seek ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties.

How Does this Affect RD Projects?

Rural Development must complete the section 106 process “prior to the approval of the expenditure of any Federal funds on the undertaking or prior to the issuance of any license.” RD can’t obligate or award funds before completing Section 106 review, unless a Section 106 program alternative is executed.

How Does RD Section 106 Process Work?

A detailed description of the RD Section 106 review process can be found in our USDA RD Section 106 Process Guide.

Review the Pre-Section 106 Consultation Checklist

Rural Development must first determines an undertaking is a type of activity that could affect historic properties. If RD determines that it has no undertaking, or that its undertaking is a type of activity that has no potential to affect historic properties, the agency has no further Section 106 obligations.

Step 1: Initiate Consultation (36 CFR § 800.2 and 3)

If it is an undertaking could affect historic properties, RD must identify the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer/Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO/THPO) to consult with during the process. It should also plan to involve the public, and identify other potential consulting parties.
Applicants and staff may initiate Section 106 consultation with SHPOs and coordination with THPOs pursuant to 36 CFR § 800.2(c)(4), and 7 CFR § 1970.5(b)(2) of the regulations, Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR Part 1970).

RD Applicants Initiation Letters Templates

RD Staff Initiation Letters Templates

Step 2: Identify Historic Properties (36 CFR § 800.4)

If RD's undertaking could affect historic properties, RD determines the scope of appropriate identification efforts and then proceeds to identify historic properties in the area of potential effects. RD reviews background information, consults with the SHPO/THPO and others, seeks information from knowledgeable parties, and conducts additional studies as necessary.

If RD finds that no historic properties are present or affected, it provides documentation to the SHPO/THPO and, barring any objection in 30 days, proceeds with its undertaking.

Applicants and staff may recommend a Section 106 finding of “no historic properties affected” to SHPOs and THPOs pursuant to 36 CFR § 800.2(c)(4), and 7 CFR § 1970.5(b)(2) of the regulations, Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR Part 1970). 

If RD finds that historic properties are present, it proceeds to assess possible adverse effects.

RD Applicant Finding Letters Template

RD Staff Finding Letters and Conclusion Memo Templates

Step 3: Assess Adverse Effects (36 CFR § 800.5)

Rural Development, in consultation with the SHPO/THPO, makes an assessment of adverse effects on the identified historic properties based on criteria found in ACHP's regulations. Applicants and staff may recommend a Section 106 finding of “no adverse effect” to SHPOs and THPOs pursuant to 36 CFR § 800.2(c)(4), and 7 CFR § 1970.5(b)(2) of the regulations, Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR Part 1970). If they agree that there will be no adverse effect, the agency proceeds with the undertaking and any agreed-upon conditions.

If they find that there is an adverse effect, or if the parties cannot agree and ACHP determines within 15 days that there is an adverse effect, the agency begins consultation to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effects.

RD Applicant Finding Letters Templates

RD Staff Finding Letters and Conclusion Memo Templates

Step 4: Resolve Adverse Effects (36 CFR § 800.6)

The RD national office environmental review staff consults to resolve adverse effects with the SHPO/THPO and others, who may include Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations, local governments, permit or license applicants, and members of the public. ACHP may participate in consultation when there are substantial impacts to important historic properties, when a case presents important questions of policy or interpretation, when there is a potential for procedural problems, or when there are issues of concern to Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations.
Consultation usually results in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which outlines agreed-upon measures that the agency will take to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effects. In some cases, the consulting parties may agree that no such measures are possible, but that the adverse effects must be accepted in the public interest.

Only the RD national office environmental review staff can resolve adverse effects and execute a MOA.