Official Government Website

I Need a Letter From SHPO

To initiate the formal Section 106 consultation process with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Federal agency (or applicant) is required to submit a cover letter with specific information and attachments. Technically, this information should come from the Federal agency, but Federal agencies occasionally authorize applicants for Federal assistance or permits to initiate consultation with the SHPO directly. Download the CHECKLIST FOR SECTION 106 SUBMISSION.

If the project is located within the boundaries of the Nez Perce or Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservations, contact the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer to start consultation.

If the project is taking place on Federal (e.g., U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management) or Tribal (reservation) land, or if it is a project associated with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), it is necessary to consult with the cultural resource professional employed by the land-managing agency, Tribe, or ITD before consulting with SHPO.

A cover letter is required for all Section 106 reviews. The cover letter must include the following information:

  • Name and contact information of Federal agency or agencies involved.
  • Project description that clearly specifies all project components including details on:
    1. Work that will affect the physical characteristics of buildings and structures more than 45 years old and their sites. For example, will windows be replaced? If so, describe the existing windows and the proposed replacement units. Will an addition be constructed onto the building? Where will it be located, and what will it look like? Will the building’s setting be affected? Will the historic landscape be affected?
    2. Work that will involve ground disturbance. For example, if the project will be replacing water lines or sewer lines, will the new lines be placed in the same trench or will it be new construction? Will other areas be used, such as staging areas, borrow sources, or disposal areas?

  • Legal description (township, range, and section) or street address of the project’s area of potential effects.
  • Brief description of the condition of the ground surface or any information relating to past construction or heavy equipment work within the project area. Has the area been bulldozed? Is it paved or covered with lawn or dense vegetation? Were there structures located on the property in the past? To investigate, you can consult county assessor records, fire insurance maps, owners or previous owners, or long-time citizens.
  • A brief description (including age) of all buildings, structures, or objects that will be involved, altered, or removed during project construction.
  • Information on any cultural resources known to exist in the immediate area surrounding the project area.
  • Summary of previous Section 106 Review(s) of the project, or an earlier project in the same location including dates of correspondence and project findings (if available).
  • USGS topographic map or a formal city map clearly showing the project location and project boundaries and the project’s area of potential effects. Both USGS maps and city maps are available online, please refer to the MAPS section of the Consulting With the Idaho SHPO document. All associated project areas, such as borrow or disposal areas, should also be marked. Scale of the map can vary as long as there are sufficient identifying features to relate the APE to a standard USGS quad map. Maps may be printed on 8.5″x11″ letter size, 8.5″x14″ legal size, or 11″x17″ ledger size paper. Please avoid oversized maps.
  • General photographs of the project area. Photographs should include several views that show the surrounding area. For all cell tower and wind farm projects, the photographs are to show several views to and from the proposed tower location(s).
  • Specific photographs of building elements that will be modified as part of the project. If the structure(s) to be affected is 45 years old or older, please submit an Idaho Historic Sites Inventory (IHSI) form with accompanying maps and photographs. Photographs should show each elevation of the building, oblique views, architectural details, and overall perspectives of the surrounding area.
  • Architectural plans, drawings, and elevations, as necessary, to describe the project.
  • Any correspondence with Tribes, city, or county government, historic preservation commissions, historical societies, or other consulting parties.

If a cultural resource survey has already been conducted, one copy of the report (and one copy of each associated site record) must be attached to the cover letter and sent to SHPO. The cover letter may then provide only the Federal agency information and brief project description, as long as the rest of the information and attachments are provided in the cultural resources report.

Accompanying the survey report must be the corresponding PDFs for the report, all site forms saved as individual PDFs, and completed IHSI and/or ASI electronic database, if appropriate. Include the relevant GIS shapefile for survey boundaries and site locations. Please refer to the GIS SUBMISSION section and DIGITAL REQUIREMENTS section of the Consulting With the Idaho SHPO document for more information.

After receiving a complete project information packet described above, the 30-day Section 106 review process can begin. The review process is not based on the date of the cover letter or stamped envelope, but rather, the date the hard copy is physically received and accessioned in the SHPO review database.

Based on the nature of the project and on the project’s location, the SHPO will usually make one of the following comments:

Additional project information is needed.
Considering the nature of the project and the project’s location, it is likely that historic properties are located within the project area that could be affected by the project. The Federal agency (or applicant) should hire a professional archaeologist, historian, or architectural historian (as appropriate) to survey the project area and evaluate any cultural resources. This work must follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the qualified professional conducting the work must meet the Secretary of Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards. See HIRING A PRESERVATION CONSULTANT

No historic properties affected.

  1. Either archaeological and/or historical surveys have been conducted, and there are no historic properties located within the project area;
  2. Or the project area has been surveyed, and historic properties have been recorded and evaluated for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. Although sites exist within or adjacent to the project area, the project will not affect them;
  3. Or considering the nature of the project and the project’s location, it is unlikely that the project will affect historic properties.

No adverse effect. Historic properties may be affected.
However, affects to a property will not adversely impact the National Register character defining features that make a property eligible.

Adverse effect. Historic properties will be adversely affected.
Once an adverse effect has been determined, the Federal agency and SHPO will enter into consultation regarding mitigation. Mitigation is a set of actions and responsibilities the Federal agency must enact to compensate for adversely impacted cultural resources. The Federal agency is required to contact other consulting parties, as appropriate, and work with the SHPO to develop a legal document called a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that stipulates mitigation actions. The Federal agency is also required to invite the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to participate in the creation and sign the MOA. More often than not, the ACHP does not sign MOAs unless the project is controversial or nationwide.

By law, the SHPO has thirty (30) calendar days to comment at each step of the review process once the project has been received by SHPO. If the SHPO receives sufficient information in the first project review submittal, many reviews will take no more than 30 days. If insufficient information for review is received, the SHPO’s response may be a request for additional information, which will result in additional review time. The SHPO may also recommend additional investigations or studies that add to the overall review time. If there is a request for additional information or study, the review period (30 days) will restart once the new information has been received.

The SHPO maintains the records and databases of all review information and site and survey reports. However, it is very important that the agency or applicant keep their own records.

ver: 3.5.1 | last updated: