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A Relatively Painless Overview of Federal and SC Historic Preservation Regulations

Federal Laws and Regulations

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA or Section 106)
Section 106 requires federal agencies to review the effect their actions may have on heritage resources that are listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Review procedures followed are referred to as "the Section 106 process" and are set out in the regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (36CF800). The regulations emphasize the need for consultation between the federal agency undertaking the action and the state historic preservation officer. The process is designed to identify historic properties that are eligible for listing on the National Register and reduce damage to these sites. Section 106 procedures may also apply to non-federal (i.e., private) undertakings that are licensed or permitted by a federal agency. Want more information concerning NHPA? Click here.

Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA)
ARPA prohibits the excavation, removal, damage, or alteration of any archaeological resource located on federal or Indian lands without an appropriate permit. It also prohibits the selling, purchasing, exchange, or transport of archaeological materials if they came from public or Indian lands in violation of this or any other act. ARPA also prohibits the selling, purchasing, transport, or receipt of archaeological materials excavated or removed in violation of any provision, rule, regulation, ordinance, or permit in effect under state or local law. Want more information concerning ARPA? Click here.

South Carolina Regulations

Coastal Zone Management Program
The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) must ensure that projects which require state or federal permits and are within the Coastal Zone of South Carolina (found in Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties) are consistent with the mandate of the Coastal Zone Management Program.

Section 15(6) of the S.C. Coastal Zone Management Act of 1979 (amended 1990), says that OCRM must consider "the extent to which development could affect . . . irreplaceable historic and archaeological sites of South Carolina's coastal zone." Section 8(b)(4) of the same act requires this comprehensive management program to identify specific management areas, called "areas of critical state concern," also known as "Geographic Areas of Particular Concern" or GAPCs. GAPCs include archaeological sites that are on or are eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Preservation Office advises OCRM on eligibility.

Water Resources Commission
Under the 1967 South Carolina Water Resources Planning and Coordination Act (as amended), the state's Water Resources Commission must consider the effect that development will have on cultural and environmental resources.

Reclamation and Mining Projects
The South Carolina Mining Act of 1990 states that the South Carolina Land Resources Conservation Commission (today part of the Department of Natural Resources) will require all reclamation plans to specify "proposed methods to limit significant adverse effects on significant cultural or historic sites."

Hazardous Waste Management
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has published regulations governing the location of hazardous waste management facilities. These regulations stipulate that these facilities will be prohibited in areas where they will "adversely impact an archaeological site as determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer and the State Archaeologist."

Cemeteries and Graveyards
Several South Carolina laws protect cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds. Most important is Section 16-17-600 et. seq. which makes it a felony to destroy, damage, remove, or desecrate human remains, as well as to vandalize, destroy, deface, or otherwise damage graveyards, tombs, mausoleums, gravestones, memorial monuments, markers, park areas, fencing, plants, trees, or shrubs. The law provides broad protection to white, black, and Native American graves. It is enforced by the local sheriff, the coroner, and the Deputy State Archaeologist. There are additional laws covering the removal of abandoned cemeteries and supervision of removal work.

Underwater Archaeological Sites
The South Carolina Underwater Antiquities Act of 1991 makes the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) responsible for the management and protection of the state's underwater archaeological resources. This law requires permits for the removal of any archaeological objects or fossils from underwater sites.

Local Ordinances
Some communities -- such as Hilton Head Island (Ordinance No. 90-16) and Beaufort County (Ordinance No. 95-46), have additional laws stipulating that archaeological studies must be conducted prior to development activities.

The key to dealing with these -- and all other historic preservation laws and regulations --  is adequate advance planning. Chicora Foundation can help you navigate the system, call or email us for additional information.

For additional information regarding historic preservation laws and regulations in South Carolina you can contact the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. If you would like information regarding these issues at a national level two good places to begin is at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places.

SC Archaeology   |   Preservation Regulations   |   Intrusive Elements   |   SC Cemetery Law

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