If your project involves any ground disturbance, you should request guidance from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on the potential for the project to affect historic properties, including archeological sites. If the Applicant is a Tribal government, if the project will occur on Tribal land, or if the project may be near properties of religious or cultural significance to a tribal group, contact the relevant Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), or other appropriate cultural resource contact in the tribe. This information should be collected at the same time as information about historic buildings and structures from Section A of the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Environmental and Historic Preservation Questions.
In your communication with the SHPO, THPO or local agency/organization, you should:
- indicate that you are applying for federal aid, and you are requesting information about the presence or potential for the presence of historic properties, including archeological sites, near your project area [example SHPO letter]
- include in your communication the name of the nearest city and the name of the county and state where the project will occur
- include a detailed description of the proposed project and extent of ground disturbance, and past land uses
- include a 1:24,000 scale USGS map [example SHPO map] showing the project boundaries and the limits of ground disturbance for the project area, and photos of the project area, if available
- include photographs of the project site
You should also make clear in your communication with the SHPO, THPO, or local agency/organization that you are NOT initiating consultation with their agency; the formal consultation process must be initiated by FEMA. Instead, indicate that you are only collecting information about the project site, and that formal consultation will be initiated by FEMA if the project is selected for award.
SHPOs and THPOs typically take at least 30 days to respond, so it is important to initiate this correspondence early, especially if your project involves the disturbance of previously undisturbed ground. If you have not received an agency response as you are finalizing your application, it is a good idea to follow up with them to find out when you might expect a response. Indicate the status of this correspondence with the SHPO or THPO in your project application, and scan and attach any letters or emails you receive in response to your contact.
If there are recognized Indian tribes present in your state, or if the SHPO, THPO or other sources indicate that there may be historic properties of significance to Indian Tribes present in your project area, please note this in the project application. If your project is selected for funding, FEMA will initiate contact with the appropriate Indian tribes to determine if there are historic properties of religious or cultural significance to the tribe in your project area.
Determining past land uses of properties in your project area is important for evaluating the potential presence of, or impacts to, archeological resources on your site. There are many ways for obtaining such historical information, such as:
- Tax records and maps at your local tax assessor's office;
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps available at the local public library (many have been scanned and are available online);
- Historical city cross-reference directories from the local public library;
- Genealogical information;
- Local historical society;
- Local title records at the Recorder of Deeds;
- Historical topographical maps from the U.S. Geological Survey;
- County soil survey maps from the local NRCS office;
- Historical aerial photographs from the USDA County Extension Service; and
- Books or other records from the local public library, or the city or county planning office.
Sometimes interviewing local people familiar with the history of the project site (i.e., local government personnel, project site neighbors) may provide insight that might not otherwise be available.