An emerging issue for the national historic preservation community has particular relevance to Indian tribes. That issue is: how do we balance the need for alternative energy and other development with the preservation of traditional cultural landscapes and other large-scale historic places?
This challenge is not new to preservation but the scale of alternative energy development, and associated transmission corridors, poses new and considerable challenges to the preservation of traditional cultural landscapes of importance to Indian tribes. In order for federal agencies to make informed decisions, it is critical to involve tribes as early as possible in planning and before project sites are selected.
In 2009, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) initiated discussions with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations about how to address these issues. Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (the Section 106 process is overseen by the ACHP) any federal undertaking that may adversely affect a historic property on or eligible for listing on, the National Register of Historic Places must consider how to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects to historic properties, including cultural landscapes. Unfortunately, these kinds of historic properties have not always been recognized or understood by federal agencies and the preservation community.