Environmental Review

Environmental Review

Environmental Review and Archaeology

Laws and regulations have been passed at both the federal and state level in order to identify and protect significant archaeological resources. A "significant site" is defined under the laws as one which is either listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), a listing of local, state and nationally important historic and archaeological sites. Under the federal and state laws related to cultural resources, one of the most important tasks of the State Historic Preservation Officer (the SHPO), and therefore the Office of State Archaeology (OSA), is the review of projects funded, licensed, or permitted by the federal or state governments. Generally referred to as the Environmental Review Process, it is the means by which archaeological and historic sites are considered in the planning stages of at least some of the many thousands of projects undertaken each year in North Carolina.

When a proposed project falls into one of the categories covered by the laws, the SHPO is given the opportunity to review and comment on its potential for affecting significant sites. If an area is determined to have the potential for significant sites, the OSA may recommend that archaeological investigations be conducted on the property prior to ground-disturbing activities. If a project is considered likely to damage an important site, some form of impact mitigation may be undertaken, either through project avoidance and site preservation or, if necessary, total or partial data recovery ("salvage" excavation).

The review process, as it pertains to archaeology, involves an evaluation of (1) the type and location of the project proposed (good maps are essential), (2) the presence or absence of known sites in the project area, and (3) the potential for significant sites in the area.

How to Submit Environmental Review Projects

Project Background Research

Consultants and archaeologists wishing to access OSA's site file data, report library, and GIS in Raleigh should schedule an appointment with using our online form.