The Coast Guard recently joined other federal, state and local agencies in Alaska, along with Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, and signed an agreement ensuring the protection of archaeological and historic resources in the state when responding to oil or hazardous material spills.The agreement, between the Alaska-based representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, establishes the guidelines and procedures to obtain pertinent information about archaeological and historic resources that may be at risk in an emergency response to a spill or release.
“The completion of these guidelines is a significant milestone in the protection of historic properties during emergency response,” said Rear Adm. Tom Barrett, Commander, 17th Coast Guard District.
Led by the DOI’s Pamela Bergman, the 10-year effort institutionalizes a process for reconciling the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act with the emergency response requirements of the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
This work, initiated in Alaska in 1992, resulted in the establishment of a national Programmatic Agreement on Protection of Historic Properties during emergency response, signed in 1997.
The Alaska guidelines, the first regional agreement in the nation, build on the national agreement by tailoring the procedures to the Alaskan operating area and may serve as a model for other regions of the U.S. Completion of these guidelines re-affirms the long-standing partnership in Alaska between Federal and State resource management agencies, the USCG and EPA, and Alaska’s Native people to work together to address the protection of historic properties in a meaningful way.
The new Alaska guidelines and the national agreement are available on the Alaska Regional Response Team’s website at www.akrrt.org/plans.shtml.