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Cultural Resources Mapping

How to Select a Development Site that Complies with the Preservation of American History

What are Cultural Resources?

Cultural resources are the physical remnants of our past. They tell us about when people lived, where they traveled, how they ate, who they interacted with, and why they formed relationships.  Cultural resources can include many types of features: buildings, structures, districts, sites, or objects. 

The National Register of Historic Places

Cultural resources are recorded in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The NRHP is a curated list of all of the districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant to our country's prehistory and history.  There are sites all over the U.S. that tell us something about the history of our country - things like flint shards discarded from tool making, old barns, piles of animals bones, even your grandmom's house. But, not all of these are associated with important historic context or have enough historic integrity to retain its significance. The NRHP is the dividing line of which sites are worth preservation and which are not. Those sites that are significant enough for preservation are either officially listed on the NRHP or are called "NRHP eligible" sites.  Sites that are not significant enough for preservation are ineligible for listing on the NRHP.

NRHP sites fall into 5 categories:

  1. Building: A house, barn, church, courthouse, jail or other building with the principle purpose to shelter humans

  2. Structure: Building made for purposes other than sheltering humans

  3. Object: Items that are artistic in nature or small in scale associated with a specific setting or environment

  4. Site: Location of a specific event, occupation, or activity where the location itself possess historic, cultural, or archaeological value

  5. District: An area of significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, building, or structures united by a common history
Learn more about the National Register of Historic Places here >>
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How to Find Historic Sites Near You

Whether you’re laying new utility lines, planning out commercial real estate, or building a new solar farm, historic and cultural resources mapping is an important factor in site selection. 

Here are some ways you can identify cultural and historic resources near you: 

  1. Use the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) list here: The National Park Services maintains a publicly-available list of national historic landmarks by state which you can access here

  2. Use Transect Vision to explore the National Register of Historic Places: Explore potential new sites with Transect Vision to quickly find and map NRHP sites near you. Learn more here

  3. Use the Interactive Map on Wikipedia: Wikipedia allows you to view the National Register of Historic Places by state here.  

  4. Use the searchable table on the National Register of Historic Places: Download an up-to-date spreadsheet of listings by county. View the table on their website here.

  5. Request a site-specific desktop search for confidential SHPO site records on your project, provided by one of Transect's qualified Cultural Resources Management partners.

Find SHPO office contact information here >>


Don't let your project get derailed...

Non-compliance with federal and state environmental laws can have serious consequences to your project. The potential risks to your project include project termination, delays, fines, civil and/or criminal penalties, notice of violation on the property title, or mitigation.

Use our Free Environmental Permitting Checklist to make sure your project runs on-time and on budget by knowing exactly what kind of environmental issues might affect your budget, footprint, or schedule. 

Download Transect's Environmental Permitting Checklist Here

What are the Regulations that Protect Cultural Resources?

The National Historic Preservation Act is the main federal law that protects cultural resources in the U.S., but state laws may also apply.  

  1. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires projects to consider their effects to cultural resources when the project involves a federal permit, federal lands, or federal funds.

  2. State Antiquities Codes/Preservation Laws typically require state agencies and political subdivisions of the state to consider effects to cultural resources as part of their ground-disturbing and/or permitting actions. Not all states have an antiquities code.

Looking for information about cultural resources permitting? Learn about Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act here >>

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