Introduction to Environmental Review/Section 106

The Environmental Review activities of the State Historic Preservation Office protect historic properties in two ways. The first is through participation in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. In the Section 106 process, activities of federal agencies are reviewed to determine if they are harming historic buildings, structures, objects or sites. The second method of protection is through the review of certain actions of other state agencies. When state agencies issue permits or dispose excess property, the SHPO advises the agency if the action will have a detrimental effect on historic properties and suggests alternatives to reduce adverse impacts.

For example, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers needed a new building at the St. Marys Falls Ship Canal (Soo Locks), a National Historic Landmark. The Corps originally proposed a building with a yellow-colored, pebble-faced concrete exterior veneer and submitted the plans to the SHPO for review. Since the historic buildings at the Soo Locks are constructed of gray limestone, the SHPO advised the Corps that the proposed building was incompatible with the existing historic buildings and recommended a different surface material. After analyzing the situation, the Corps found a precast concrete panel that is compatible with the limestone on the historic buildings. Through further consultation with the SHPO, the project was approved and the character of the historic site preserved.

In another case, the Michigan Department of Military Affairs determined they no longer had use for the National Register-listed Coldwater Armory and wished to market it for private ownership. When notified of these plans, the SHPO analyzed the potential impact of this action on the historic property and requested that a covenant be placed on the property when it is sold. This covenant ensures that the historic property is preserved and that future work on the property is undertaken in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Covenants usually run with the land and thus this property is protected in perpetuity. A private owner may take advantage of the historic preservation tax incentives related to a rehabilitation of this National Register property.