The NHPA of 1966 (54 U.S.C. §§ 300101 et seq.) created a preservation program for the United States and its territories. Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties and to consider the input of interested parties and the public. NHPA called for the creation of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). ACHP in turn created regulations for implementing NHPA (36 C.F.R. Part 800). To reduce redundancies created by dual FirstNet and FCC responsibilities under NHPA in FirstNet network deployment activities, the FirstNet Authority will utilize both the Program Comment for Streamlining Section 106 Review for Wireless Communications Facilities Construction and Modification Subject to Review Under the FCC Nationwide Programmatic Agreement and/or the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (hereinafter “Wireless Communications Program Comment”) and the Program Comment for Communication Projects on Federal Lands and Property (hereinafter “Federal Lands Program Comment”). The Program Comments exempt the FirstNet Authority from conducting a duplicative review of projects that also undergo NHPA review by the FCC. Furthermore, in cases where the FirstNet Authority is the lead agency, these Program Comments allow FirstNet Authority access and use of FCC systems, such as the Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS) and E-106, and processes for NHPA compliance, such as FCC’s 2001 Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas and 2004 Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for Review of Effects on Historic Properties for Certain Undertakings Approved by the Federal Communications Commission (NPAs). However, as stated in the Program Comment, when a FirstNet Authority undertaking includes communications facilities construction or modification components that are not covered by the FCC NPAs, the FirstNet Authority will comply with Section 106 in accordance with the process set forth at 36 C.F.R. § 800.3 through 800.7, 36 C.F.R. § 800.8(c), or other applicable program alternatives described in 36 C.F.R. § 800.14.
Under the NHPA, the FirstNet Authority must assure that all proposed projects it reviews identify significant historic properties, determine whether the undertaking will adversely affect such properties, and avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects. The FirstNet Authority must consult with consulting parties, including the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) and their equivalents, Native Hawaiian organizations (NHOs), and seek input from the public.
For site-specific public engagement under NHPA, at a minimum, the FirstNet Authority will follow the processes employed by FCC in its NPAs. For each project requiring NHPA consultation, public notice will be placed in the paper of record in the vicinity of the proposed project or equivalent method, as needed. The public notice will describe the location, height, and design of the proposed site, and provide a point of contact for comments on impacts to historic properties. In addition, notice of the proposal will be posted on the FirstNet Authority’s website. The FirstNet Authority will consider all comments received, in coordination with the FCC. The above process will be used in addition to contacting the SHPO and federally recognized tribes or NHOs for a given project.
The FirstNet Authority will consider consulting party issues regarding adverse effects on historic properties consistent with those defined in the FCC NPAs. If NRHP-eligible sites or properties of religious and cultural significance are identified, procedures established within a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or Programmatic Agreement will be followed to appropriately consult, evaluate, and resolve potential adverse effects to any historic properties. MOAs will capture how adverse effects to historic properties will be mitigated, including input from all interested consulting parties.
The FirstNet Authority has created a list of frequently asked questions provide quick answers to many questions regarding how the FirstNet Authority complies with NHPA. For more information about the NHPA, the Section 106 process, and the role of the public and consulting parties, we also recommend visiting ACHP.gov.
National Historic Preservation Act Compliance Frequently Asked Questions
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Authorized by Congress in 2012, the FirstNet Authority’s mission is to ensure the development, deployment, and ongoing operation of a nationwide, broadband network for public safety. Learn more about the FirstNet Authority.
The FirstNet Authority, after a rigorous and competitive process, selected and entered into a contract with AT&T to be the provider for the nationwide public safety broadband network, or NPSBN. As a result, AT&T will provide a turnkey experience for public safety entities in each state and territory, including assuming operational, financial, and technical responsiblities associated with the network. For more information on the network deployment, please visit www.firstnet.com and firstnet.gov/network.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 directed the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, to reallocate and grant the FirstNet Authority an exclusive license to the 700 MHz D block spectrum to support the establishment of the NPSBN. As a result, the FirstNet Authority is in the unique position of being both an independent federal authority and an FCC licensee with responsibilities for complying with applicable environmental and cultural resources laws.
The FirstNet Authority intends to primarily utilize the Program Comment for Streamlining Section 106 Review for Wireless Communications Facilities Construction and Modification Subject to Review Under the FCC Nationwide Programmatic Agreement and/or the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless, as applicable, to comply with Section 106 requirements for communications facilities being deployed as part of the NPSBN. In addition, the FirstNet Authority, as appropriate, intends to utilize the Program Comment for Communication Projects on Federal Lands and Property satisfy its Section 106 responsibilities for network deployment on federal lands. However, when no applicable program alternative applies to a proposed undertaking, the FirstNet Authority, in coordination with the FCC, as appropriate, will comply with Section 106 in accordance with Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Regulations (36 C.F.R. Part 800) (ACHP Regulations).
The FirstNet Authority, in coordination with NPSBN contractor, will designate project area of potential effects consistent with those defined under the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for Review of Effects on Historic Properties for Certain Undertakings Approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (collectively the “FCC NPAs”) (47 C.F.R, Pt. 1, Apps. B, C) for undertakings related to the NPSBN. If the FCC NPAs do not apply to an undertaking, FirstNet, in coordination with the NPSBN contractor, will make this determination in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)/Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO).
The FirstNet Authority intends to carry out its responsibilities to address adverse effects on historic properties in a manner consistent with those described in the FCC NPAs. Although the NPSBN contractor will be involved and a party to any such agreement, the FirstNet Authority, in coordination with the FCC, understands it has the ultimate responsibility to address adverse effects on historic properties consistent with the ACHP Regulations and the FCC NPAs.
Yes. The FirstNet Authority intends to primarily utilize contractors to initiate consultation and conduct surveys on its behalf in accordance with the ACHP Delegation of Authority for Section 106 Review of Telecommunications Projects. In particular, the FirstNet Authority has authorized its NPSBN contractor to participate on its behalf in National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) consultation for actions related to the NPSBN.
Yes. The FirstNet Authority, similar to other licensees, intends to use FCC’s systems, including E-106 and the Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS), to notify SHPOs and tribes of proposed FirstNet Authority undertaking related to the deployment of the NPSBN. However, for SHPOs and other parties not actively using these systems, the FirstNet Authority, through its NPSBN contractor, will conduct consultation using other appropriate means consistent with existing FCC processes and ACHP Regulations.
No. The FirstNet Authority cannot see any of the information tribes provided to the FCC apart from what would normally be provided to an FCC applicant.
The FirstNet Authority respects the government-to-government relationship that exists between federally recognized Indian tribes and the U.S. Government. The NHPA and the ACHP Regulations require FirstNet Authority to take into account the effects of its undertakings on resources of historical significance, including those of traditional religious and cultural importance to American Indian tribes, Alaska Native tribal entities, and NHOs, and prescribes a specific consultation process for those purpose. The FirstNet Authority recognizes and will take actions consistent with its government-to-government consultation requirements under Section 106 of NHPA and other historic preservation laws.
Yes. The FirstNet Authority adopted a tribal consultation policy to establish a foundation for honoring tribal sovereignty, accompanied by productive communications, consideration, and engagement with tribal governments surrounding the deployment of the NPSBN. However, this policy is independent of and implemented separately from the FirstNet Authority’s Section 106 consultation requirements.
With questions about NHPA compliance, FirstNet Authority stakeholders should contact:
Director of Environmental Compliance and Federal Preservation Officer