historic preservation cultural resource compliance training


VCHP has been a participant of the Cochiti Dam & Lake Baseline project with the Corps of Engineers and Cochiti Pueblo since 2003. The team is currently supporting the project management of the study, which includes soil, water, biological, archaeological, cultural and other studies to examine the baseline conditions of the environment surrounding the dam and lake, which are located in the Rio Grande valley, New Mexico. Understanding the baseline conditions is an important step in the ongoing maintenance and balancing of water flow from the reservoir.


From 1936 to 1939 the Soil Conservation Service undertook extensive flood control efforts on the east mesa of Las Cruces. This work was in specific response to devastating floods of August 1935, caused by runoff from the Organ Mountains to the east. The dams were also representative of a national effort to address watershed management issues such as soil erosion, proper grazing practices, as well as flood control. The VCHP team documented the history of these Las Cruces flood control dams. There were a series of seven earthen dams constructed across the landscape. The challenge was to locate them, document their history, condition, and original flow levels. The results of this project provided historical baseline data to the engineers who were analyzing whether to update or replace the dam system.


Present day Cochiti farmers and their ancestors have been planting crops along the Rio Grande and in its side canyons below the mouth of White Rock Canyon for hundreds of years. The Cochiti farmer developed many different water-control and planting strategies in order to achieve adequate crop yields for Pueblo subsistence and later as an income producer for Tribal members. This was accomplished despite the vagaries of the environmental conditions (drought, flash flooding, etc.) found in this area of central New Mexico. VCHP completed Phase I of a Rio Grande riverine study in support of the Cochiti Baseline project with data on the effects of the dam on crops and the people of the Pueblo. The work includes historical, environmental and ethnographic data on upstream dry farming and downstream effects of the dam.


The VCHP team is supporting the environmental report site audit at the Turkey Point Site in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The report is part of Florida Power & Light’s application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct and operate two additional nuclear reactors and associated transmission infrastructure. The support includes review of the NRC’s environmental report Information Needs List, participation at the environmental site audit at the Turkey Point Site, and review and generating responses to Requests for Additional Information from the NRC.


The Pajarito Plateau, in north-central New Mexico, which includes the boundaries of Bandelier National Monument, contains one of the most intense concentrations of archaeological sites, structures and objects in the American Southwest. These cultural resources represent a range of virtually unbroken use of the plateau by human groups dating to as far back as 10,000 years ago and continuing until the present day. The Mission 66 Juniper Campground area at Bandelier National Park is slated for upgrades. As a result a NEPA study was conducted for that area, which includes historic stone features, prehistoric sites, and potential Tribal traditional use areas. The VCHP team completed the cultural resource sections for the NEPA environmental assessment.


The San Carlos Apache Indian Hospital has been located in the community of San Carlos since the 1930s. The existing hospital was constructed in 1962, but its functional viability was compromised by both an increase in its user population and constraints imposed by its site location in the community. The existing facility could not be expanded to accommodate the growth. The San Carlos Tribe has approved a new hospital location near the tribal community of Peridot, adjacent to U.S. Highway 70, a major east-west transportation corridor across the reservation. The VCHP team assisted in the preparation of the NEPA environmental assessment for this proposed project.


New Mexico Department of Transportation contracted for the development of baseline data to aid in planning improvements for the I-25 South Corridor. As part of this effort, the VCHP team conducted a windshield survey of historic neighborhoods, buildings, and cultural landscapes that could affect future planning and design decisions by the transportation officials. The level of effort for this survey is best described as a “characterization” of the historic resources found within the study area. This effort included neighborhoods and adjacent commercial, industrial, and agricultural areas within the project boundaries and relied on secondary sources from which to develop a brief historic context for the buildings and landscapes.


The Department of Defense has adopted general guidelines for use in providing leadership in sustainability practices, which is based on a Memorandum of Understanding among federal agencies. The five guiding principles noted in the MOU are also used in the DoD real asset database as real property codes to track sustainability of the DoD inventory. The VCHP team completed a project using case studies of rehabilitation projects that have successfully integrated sustainability with historic preservation. The resulting report is formatted using the MOU categories and documents what was done, how it was done and the impacts on historic building character. The report is intended as a tool for DoD staff to use as a resource when assessing how to integrate sustainability into their historic properties.


The VCHP team completed a research study for the Department of Defense that investigated “What is Already Green” in DoD historic properties. The study reviewed the types of sustainability characteristics that fall under the Federal Memorandum of Understanding (for sustainability) and applied those characteristics to historic buildings. The result was the understanding that there may be some elements in historic buildings that are today referred to as “green”. In addition, the resulting project report concluded that it is critical to fully analyze and evaluate the historic building and sustainability needs before beginning any retrofit project in order to successfully integrate the two. Even standard plan structures were unique and distinct in their individual characteristics and adaptations to their locale.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions and alternatives prior to making project decisions, and to involve other agencies, stakeholders, tribes, and the public in the decision making process. VCHP assists agencies and project applicants (through third party contracting) with navigating this environmental review process, enabling them to implement project plans on schedule in an environmentally responsible manner. We provide project management to ensure the NEPA process is implemented as outlined in the Council on Environmental Quality regulations, resulting in NEPA compliance that meets the scrutiny of the public, regulatory agencies, and EPA. The resulting NEPA documents comply fully with all legal requirements, present practical mitigation measures, and integrate permitting requirements under other regulatory requirements such as the Endangered Species Act or the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

VCHP facilitates public and stakeholder involvement in the process by designing and conducting public involvement processes to help agencies and project applicants develop relationships with communities, thereby enhancing resolution of environmental concerns. VCHP has extensive experience assisting agencies and project applicants with coordination and consultation with other agencies and stakeholder tribes. VCHP also specializes in conducting the cultural resources analyses required in NEPA and integrating the NEPA process with compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA.

VCHP provides:

  • Project Management for NEPA compliance (EIS, EA, Programmatic and Supplemental assessments)
  • NEPA cultural resource analyses
  • Third Party Document/Process Review
  • Public and Stakeholder Involvement
  • Tribal and Agency Coordination and Consultation
  • Development of mitigation agreement documents (MOAs and PAs)
  • Mitigation monitoring/construction monitoring

Environmental planning allows our clients to make informed decisions about their projects and facilitates environmental compliance. Environmental planning can position an agency and/or project applicant to complete NEPA compliance in an expedited manner by collecting environmental baseline data early. This data, which describes the environment as it currently exists, is used in the NEPA process to analyze how these conditions would change under a particular project alternative. VCHP assists the client with collection of environmental baseline data by providing project management over specific resource area studies, to ensure data relevant to the NEPA process is collected in an efficient and cost-effective manner.