Under Section 106, agencies are asked to establish the scope of their proposed undertaking and consider whether the type of activity involved may have an effect on historic properties. Historic properties are resources that typically are 50 years of age or older, meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, possess integrity, and that have been formally evaluated for their eligibility. A determination of eligibility (DOE) is a result of this formal evaluation process and typically the State Historic Preservation Office is consulted. If this type of activity will not pose an effect on historic properties, or if no historic properties are present, then the agency has fulfilled its responsibilities under Section 106.
If the activity will cause an effect, then the nature of that effect is explored as a formal assessment. Essentially, an assessment of effect (AOE) is a close look at the historic property in the context of the proposed undertaking to see what changes the undertaking may have on the property and involves consultation with the appropriate review agency or agencies. This first step is followed by consultation with the public and the identification of individuals or groups that have a stake in the planning process to be formally invited into consultation. The agency then identifies the historic properties in the project’s area of potential effect and weighs the effects of the proposed undertaking on those properties.
An important step in the process is achieving consensus among all the consulting parties about the type of effect the undertaking may have and to what extent its National Register-qualifying characteristics (i.e., its attributes that make it eligible to the National Register) will be affected by the proposed undertaking. When the proposed undertaking will have an adverse effect, some agencies will redesign their project to avoid that effect. When this is not possible, agencies, in consultation with stakeholders, create a mitigation plan that allows what is significant about the historic property to be preserved. Mitigations range in type from archaeological site excavation to measuring buildings to the development of public outreach materials.
New South Associates routinely provides DOEs and AOEs for its clients, particularly state and county transportation departments.