BLM Preservation Board Report
December 1-2, 2009
In attendance: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Preservation Officer Robin Burgess (WO), Deputy Preservation Officers (DPO) Michael Johnson (AZ), Robert King (AK), Charlotte Hunter (CA), Dan Haas (CO), Stan McDonald (OR), Gary Smith (MT), Tom Burke (NV), Signa Larralde (NM), Stan McDonald (OR), Byron Loosle (UT), and Ranel Capron (WY), District Manager Becky Heick (AZ), Field Office Managers Thomas Heinlein (UT) and Mark Storzer (ES), Ralph Thomas (OR), and Field Office Specialists Brooke Brown (OR) and Zane Fulbright (MT). The Eastern States DPO position is vacant.
Attending from outside the BLM were: Nancy Schamu, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO); Alice Baldrica, Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) (by conference phone); Caroline Hall, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and Chief Judge Barry Holt, Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA). Additional BLM attendees were: Ray Brady (Minerals and Realty Management Directorate, WO-300); Linda Resseguie (Lands, Realty and Cadastral Division, WO-350); John McCarty (Recreation and Visitor Services, WO-250); Jake Lee (Evaluation and Management Services Division, WO-830); and Kirk Halford, National Coordinator, Cultural Resources Data Sharing Partnership (CRDSP) and incoming Idaho DPO.
Location: Hotel Monticello, Washington, DC
Robin welcomed the Board to Washington and introduced WO-240 Division Chief Richard Hanes and Deputy Division Chief, Bekki Lasell.
Overview of Bureau Priorities
Richard gave the Board a brief summary of the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Interior high priority initiatives. On January 30, 2010, the Department must submit a plan of action to the Office of Management and Budget on implementation of Executive Order 13175. The Department is holding a series of tribal consultation meetings beginning on Wednesday, December 2nd to solicit tribal comments. The BLM Deputy Director, Marcilynn Burke and a representative from WO-240 will be attending. BLM state office participation is also requested.
Renewable energy development is one of the Secretary’s highest priorities. WO-240 will be tracking the Department’s high interest projects on a biweekly basis and will require your assistance in maintaining this information.
Bekki Lasell gave an overview of FY09 and the FY10 appropriations and the FY2011 budget process. In FY09, we received an appropriation of $15.7M. This is an increase of $2.355M, $2.1M of which was allocated to the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). WO-240 is continuing to strengthen its strategic plan. The plan is now better aligned with the overall WO-200 Directorate priorities and the Department’s strategic planning effort, and we intend to use it in ongoing and future budget development. WO-200 is improving integration with the NLCS budget process and has proposed business rules. One proposed rule is that new designation does not automatically lead to reprogramming. The Board noted that execution remains challenging and that the National Business Center needs to build capacity.
Action Item: Bekki Lasell will post the WO-200 proposed business rules to the Preservation Board SharePoint site.
Richard then provided the status of the next phase of the BLM tribal outreach effort and revision of the BLM national Programmatic Agreement (PA). The Federal Register notice announcing our intent to revise the PA, an Instruction Memorandum (IM), and correspondence to tribes, State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) and others is in the surname process. The Board asked for confirmation that the Executive Leadership Team was aware of the effort and that WO would prepare talking points to assist managers who will be required to support it.
Action Item: Robin will work with BLM Public Affairs to develop one to two pages of talking points to assist the field in implementing the proposed Instruction Memorandum.
Historic Preservation Update
Robin Burgess gave the Board a more detailed report on the status of the BLM’s progress in meeting the milestones in the addendum to the BLM PA that the BLM executed last February. The BLM was on track until October 4, 2009, when the high priority placed by the new Administration on tribal consultation resulted delays to ensure the BLM effort was consistent with the evolving Departmental direction. As provided in the addendum, the BLM has informed the ACHP and NCSHPO informally of this development.
PA Revision: Next Steps
Robin led a discussion on a draft revision strategy for revising the PA. The strategy is to be made available through the proposed Federal Register notice and transmitted with the proposed correspondence to tribal leaders, SHPOs and others. The Board then had preliminary discussions on a draft revision of the PA.
Discussion with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Offices
Caroline Hall, Assistant Director of Federal Agency Programs for ACHP, Nancy Schamu, Executive Director of the NCSHPO, and Alice Baldrica, Deputy SHPO of Nevada joined the Board for a partner update, and to have a three-way discussion on renewable energy development, the new BLM-ACHP Liaison position, and the recent Memorandum of Understanding among nine Federal agencies regarding transmission siting on Federal lands.
Caroline emphasized ACHP’s interest in working with the BLM and other Federal agencies on implementing the President’s renewable energy and sustainability initiatives, including preparing guidance on integrating compliance with the NHPA Section 106 and the National Environmental Policy Act. Alice reported on the impact of current state budget deficits on SHPOs and the challenges imposed by the influx of projects, including those funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The BLM NV State Office is funding a part time SHPO position to assist the office in meeting the joint challenges of manpower reductions and workload increases. Nancy Schamu noted the appointment of the new NCSHPO President, Ruth Pierpont, New York SHPO, thanked the BLM for supporting SHPOs and for the continuing partnership with the BLM on data sharing through the CRDSP. Nancy also discussed the significant potential for visual impacts on the landscape from renewable energy development. She stressed the opportunity for the BLM and other agencies to take the lead in developing objective methods for determining areas of potential effect and applying the criteria for potential effect, using tools such as Visual Resource Management.
Caroline then addressed communications for development of PAs and Memoranda of Agreement and stressed the benefit of informing the ACHP as soon as possible when undertakings are likely to meet the threshold for ACHP involvement. Offices should not let lack of complete documentation delay transmittal of an initial letter, particularly if the project is likely to require a PA. Caroline also explained the purpose of the recently executed nine agency memorandum of understanding (MOU) for coordination in federal agency review of electric transmission facilities on federal lands. The MOU does not change the NHPA Section 106 process.
Action Item: Robin will resend the existing communications protocols to the ACHP, the NCSHPO and the Board and ask for any edits.
Richard Hanes gave the Board an update on a new energy-focused liaison position with the ACHP. The Board emphasized the importance of a fundamental understanding of the BLM and its processes.
Action Item: The WO will send out the proposed liaison work plan when it becomes available.
There was a round table discussion in which some Board members identified variation among SHPO policies and standards as a concern for some national programs like grazing and for some multi-state projects. Signa asked if the Federal Advisory Committee Act ever applied to parties in a NHPA Section 106 consultation.
Action item: Robin will collect specific case studies from the Board to demonstrate variation among SHPOs and send to Nancy and Alice so we can.
Action Item: Robin will get clarification on the intersection of FACA and NHPA Section 106.
Dan Haas reported that his work group had looked at various agencies’ guidance on metal detection. The group recommended that the BLM develop more detailed guidance on what are and are not legal metal detection activities. The group also recommends preparation of a flyer or other public information materials on metal detection.
Action Item: Dan will coordinate with his recreation counterpart in CO on the findings of his work group. Dan, Brooke, Gary, and Bob will begin work on public information materials.
Kirk Halford gave the Board a brief update on the CRDSP. Kirk will maintain his position as national coordinator after assuming the position of Idaho DPO, but noted that the position should be full time. Kirk reviewed the two and five year goals, handed out a progress report. He said that the state data representatives appreciate the financial support for the program this year and understand that expectations are high. Kirk recommended more specific next generation agreements with SHPOs to ensure that BLM state offices get the product they expect for data sharing funds. Kirk also described alternative models for data sharing in unique situations and scenarios such as in CA where there is a reverse model in which the BLM develops information in-house and then shares it with the SHPO, although he emphasized that this is not the model the CRDSP wants to follow, but a fallback in cases where the partnership is not functioning as a two way conduit allowing BLM effective access to SHPO data. Robin and Kirk emphasized the importance of meeting our data sharing goals and the value of the original business model in which states host the BLM cultural data. Kirk then provided an update on the development and implementation of cultural resources data standards.
Interior Board of Land Appeals
Chief Administrative Judge H. Berry Holt spoke with the Board about the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA). Ninety percent of IBLA cases involve the BLM. Judge Holt, a former Regional Archaeologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, provided an overview of the operation of the IBLA and his successful initiative to reduce backlogged cases. Judge Holt has reduced the age of pending cases to three and a half months, down from over two years. Judge Holt then discussed the reasoning behind some recent decisions and took questions from the Board, particularly related to phased compliance. As addressed in recent IBLA decisions, a phased compliance process requires that the agency demonstrate that it has taken some steps to take into account the effect of the undertaking on potentially eligible sites, as required by NHPA Section 106, in each phase, and that until a reasonable effort has been made to identify all potentially eligible sites, the agency retain the ability to modify the project, through no surface occupancy or other stipulations, if necessary.
Renewable Energy Update
Ray Brady of WO-300, Linda Resseguie of WO-350, and John McCarty, of WO-250 gave the Board an update on the renewable energy priority initiative and then held a panel discussion. The Board previously submitted questions on renewable energy. Kate Winthrop had provided written responses and the other panel members addressed the questions in their remarks. Ray Brady gave an overview that included the establishment of the renewable energy coordination offices in CA, NV, AZ and WY. Ray also addressed ARRA projects and “fast track” projects. “Fast track” projects are potentially eligible for schedule-driven financial incentives made available in ARRA. Linda Resseguie gave the Board an update on the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. The public comment period recently ended for the solar study areas and the contractor is consolidating the comments. John McCarty then discussed recent developments in the Visual Resources Management (VRM) program, including ongoing inventory and training, its potential to support cultural resources compliance needs and the interest of tribes.
National Register on Historic Nominations
Byron Loosle gave a PowerPoint presentation on the multiple property nomination he prepared for Nine Mile Canyon, Utah. Byron discussed the features of the property that made it particularly appropriate for this type of nomination and the challenges and opportunities these nominations provide. The nomination was just signed by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.
Utah Grazing Policy
Byron introduced Utah’s proposed policy for compliance with the NHPA Section 106 for grazing permit renewals. Utah developed this policy in response to a decision by the IBLA. The proposed policy states that the use of a “no potential to affect” finding is not appropriate and would require consultation with the SHPO for all grazing permit renewals. Kirk volunteered that he developed a grazing permit renewal research strategy for the Bishop Field Office, CA that allowed him to do targeted on-the-ground evaluations of the potential of renewal to adversely impact cultural resources. This provided sufficient information to support grazing permit decisions.
Action Item: Byron will post his policy on the Board SharePoint site so other states will be aware of the Utah direction and identify potential impacts on their state programs should it become adopted as a national policy. Kirk will post his research strategy on the SharePoint site.
Presidential Initiative and BLM Tribal Consultation Outreach Recommendations – Next Steps
Richard Hanes gave the Board more information on development of the Department of Interior Action Plan for implementation of the Executive Order No. 14175, in response to the Presidential Memorandum. The focus of the Action Plan will be consultation for national initiatives. Components of the plan may include: (1) a more robust trial liaison network; (2) use of multimedia methods for consultation; (3) a tribal energy liaison; (4) improving consistency among agencies in approaches to compensation; and (5) a department-wide policy for consultation that addresses multiple authorities. The Board noted that tribes are interested in a myriad of issues and that a comprehensive and department-wide policy would help the BLM managers be responsive to tribes. The Board also noted that ultimately the major issue is lack of resources.
Richard Hanes and Jacob Lee provided an overview of the new risk management development process. WO-240 has been through the process and determined it was a relatively high risk program due to underfunding. Accordingly, WO-240 must demonstrate that its internal controls are sufficient to mitigate this level of risk. The Assistant Director and Director must sign annual assurance statements confirming this. Ideally we build on controls already in place and field reviews are one type of internal control. The Board asked if there was a standard for field reviews and if the WO had to participate. Jake said there is a lot of flexibility in how we design controls. The key thing is to have evaluated the controls.
Action Item: States will post evaluations on the Board SharePoint site.
The Board attended the ACHP Quarterly Business Meeting on Friday December 4.