Environmental compliance leads within the BPA Environmental Planning and Analysis group, and the Pollution Prevention and Abatement group, coordinate with cultural resources staff to accomplish cultural resource compliance for new construction and O&M hydropower. Some examples include construction of new transmission lines and substations, rebuilding and/or re-conductoring existing transmission lines, and replacing transmission line structures, access road construction or improvement, and other activities.

BPA Transmission Systems Cultural staff work within the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 which requires that the proposed project-related impacts (effects) upon cultural resources be taken into consideration by federal agencies. Federal agencies are responsible for addressing and resolving for adverse effects to historic properties caused by the federal undertaking. Historic properties may be considered any district, site, building, structure, object, or historic property of religious and cultural significance to Indian Tribes that is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

As part of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process we consult with State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO), Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), affected Tribes, and any agency (state or federal) whose land we are working on. So when does it become an action to initiate Section 106? Plain and simple, if we are disturbing the ground or enabling another entity to disturb the ground, it’s an action, and we have to initiate Section 106. as originally designed.

Historic Built Environment

The BPA transmission Network is associated with significant themes in American history relating the rise of public power and the development of PUDs and rural electric cooperatives, the industrial development of the Pacific Northwest in response to World War II and, after the war the continued expansion and development of a model transmission network that included technological development of international import. The Bonneville Power Administration Transmission Network is considered eligible for the National Register under Criterion “A” and “C” and is treated and managed accordingly.  The BPA Network includes unique historic built resources including transmission lines, microwave stations and substation resources comprising control houses, untanking towers, maintenance and storage facilities, metering houses, testing facilities, administration and office buildings and more.

image of proposed transmission system from 1938

1938 Map of the Proposed Transmission Master Grid

Tom Becker

Senior Transmission Archaeologist

Tama Tochihara

Senior Historian