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Cultural Resources

Cultural Resources

Cultural resources encompass all the physical evidence of past human activity. They are non-renewable resources that are important to our nation’s history as they tell the story of our human past and interaction with the natural environment. This could include a site, object, building, structure, landscape, etc.

FSA focuses on meeting the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and associated regulations while working to streamline day-to-day compliance and protection of cultural resources.

Section 106

The NHPA is dedicated to the preservation of cultural resources in the United States. The implementing regulations for this legislation can be found in 36 CFR Part 800. Within 36 CFR Part 800, Section 106 dictates the involvement of federal agencies in the review of projects, actions, and activities and outlines a process to be followed for this assessment.

Section 106 requires all federal agencies, including FSA, consider the impacts of their planned actions on historic properties. Historic properties are those cultural resources that are the remnants of the lives of people who have occupied and lived in the United States throughout time including Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Alaskans as well as pioneers and settlers. The purpose of Section 106 is to identify if there are remnants of past lives in a project area and to assess the significance of those remnants. Discussing significance with the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) in each state as well as talking to indigenous peoples will assist in the identification of important cultural resources that require protection.

Consultation is a significant part of Section 106 requirements. Federal agencies must contact the SHPO, Tribal Nations, Native Hawaiians, and Alaskan Villages who have ancestral lands within a project’s Area of Potential Effect (APE). Through consultation the significance of the cultural resources can be determined as well as how the project may affect those resources. This information is documented and considered when approving any application or contract. FSA's Handbook 1-EQ (Rev. 3) provides detailed guidance for state and county offices on how to apply the Section 106 review and consultation process. For many projects, there will also need to be an Unanticipated Discovery Plan (UDP) attached to the project.


Consulting with Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples is an important component of historic preservation. There are currently 574 federally recognized Tribes that could be consulted if they have ancestral land or their reservations lie within the scope of the APE for a project. Speaking with Tribal Nations, Native Hawaiians, and Native Alaskans is important because of their indigenous knowledge of the area and the potential for the presence of resources that have cultural and religious significance to them. Consultation with Tribes takes place at the local, state, and national level.

State Office Contacts:

For each state, FSA has designated at least one State Environmental Coordinator (SEC). SECs act as the program coordinator on all environmental matters within their state. In some states there is an SEC for conservation programs and one for farm loan programs. SECs are available to provide specific answers concerning cultural resources including surveys and preservation measures. 

National Office Contact:

Donna Turnipseed
Federal Preservation Officer
Farm Production and Conservation Business Center, Environmental Activities Division
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20250

Related Links

Cultural Resources