Process for Preserving Cultural Resources and Values

Inventory/Identification of Historic Properties

365,541 acres of land within the 14 FCRPS Cultural Resource Program projects are accessible for archaeological survey. As of October 2023, approximately 173,000 acres have been surveyed through the Program, identifying 4,843 archaeological sites and historic structures.
picture of people on shore
In addition, individual plans are in place with each of the 10 tribes to identify Traditional Cultural Places (TCPs) or Historic Properties of Religious and Cultural Significance (HPRCSITs) through ethnographic research, oral histories, place names, or traditional resource areas. So far, 1,164 TCPs or HPRCSITs have been documented.

(Pictured, archaeological pedestrian survey being conducted at Hungry Horse Reservoir, Hungry Horse Dam Project)

Evaluation of Historic Significance     

Program goals include evaluating the significance of archaeological sites, TCPs and HPRCSITs, and historic buildings, and making determinations regarding the listing of properties on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). In addition to individual properties, several Archaeological and Historic Districts and Multiple Property Determinations have been designated as a way to both evaluate multiple properties and to apply a landscape approach to resource management.
Examples of districts managed by the Program include pre-contact villages and historic townsite locations, natural resource areas of significance to Tribes, or culturally significant landforms. Districts within the Program range in size from 141 to 76,792 acres and encompass anywhere from one to 531 sites. Within the Program, a total of 1,092 historic properties have been evaluated as eligible for the NRHP thus far, many of which fall within Districts or are part of Multiple Property Determinations.

Assessment of Effects

Inundation caused by the dams has submerged entire cultural resource site areas and limited access to areas of traditional importance. Yearly draw-downs of the reservoirs result in erosion of landforms and deposits that contain artifacts, leaving these areas exposed and subject to looting, vandalism, and unauthorized activities. The Program is able to track these effects by conducting site condition monitoring at some 200 to 400 sites annually. In addition, the Program provides funding for law enforcement officers to monitor sensitive resource areas for any evidence of looting, vandalism, and unauthorized activities.

Resolution of Adverse Effects

Once a property is considered eligible for listing in the NRHP and an assessment of effects has been completed, the Program funds treatment or mitigation for adverse effects through a number of ways:
  • Protection and restoration- signs, barriers, relocation, graffiti removal, revegetation
  • Bank stabilization for erosional areas
  • Data recovery/excavation of high risk areas with good data potential
  • Artifact collection analysis or rehabilitation of collections held in repositories
  • Public education- brochures, exhibits, interpretive trails, presentations
  • Creative or alternative off-site mitigations