Accelerated Review of Communication Projects on Federal Lands and Property

Pete CodellaBroadband

On May 8, 2017, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) issued a Program Comment for an accelerated review of communication projects on Federal Lands and Property.

This Program Comment was at the request of the US Department of Homeland Security in order to accelerate programs such as broadband deployment to comply with section 106 of National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  Section 106 requires federal agencies to take into account the affects of their actions, licenses, permits and funds to historic properties.  Section 106 requires that all actions be provided to the ACHP and allow them to comment before any actions are taken.

An Interagency Working Group was formed to help the acceleration of communications, specifically Broadband Infrastructure Deployment.  The Working Group has been comprised of representatives of major government agencies that work closely with federal lands and properties.  The group used Standard Treatment in order to pursue best practices in deployment of fast and accurate broadband projects.

Standard Treatment was implicated to enable property and land managing agencies to alter standards in Section 106 to allow deployment of communication projects with less delays.  This would assist the agencies to expedite the project delivery of Broadband infrastructure to undeserved communities, like rural and tribal areas.

This new proposal allowed public participation of State Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations to comment on the alteration.  The only concerns from these organizations was for groups to take account of religious and culture significance to tribes during deployment, including historic artifacts, landmarks, parks, etc. Otherwise, none of these organizations opposed the alteration.