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Cultural Resources Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce cultural resource impacts from coal mining.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce cultural resource impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to cultural resources are related to the project footprint (e.g., land disturbance, erosion, changes in runoff patterns, and hydrological alterations) and project emissions (e.g., sediment runoff, water releases). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Conduct a records search to determine the presence of known archaeological sites and historic structures within the area of potential effect. Identify the need for an archaeological and/or architectural survey. Conduct a survey, if needed.
  • Determine whether sites and structures within the area of potential effect meet the significance criteria for listing as eligible sites on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
  • Consult with Native American governments early in the planning process to identify traditional cultural properties, sacred landscapes, and other issues and concerns regarding the proposed coal mine.
  • Evaluate the visual impacts to historic trails if the project includes remnants of a National Historic Trail, is located within the viewshed of a National Historic Trail's designated centerline, or includes or is within the viewshed of a trail eligible for listing on the NRHP.
  • Prepare a cultural resources management plan, if cultural resources are present at the mine site or along access routes or if areas with a high potential to contain cultural material have been identified.
  • Use existing roads to the maximum extent feasible to avoid additional surface disturbance.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a coal mine project include:

  • Follow guidance in the cultural resources management plan. For example:
    • If resources eligible for listing on the NRHP are present, modify the Mine Development Plan to avoid significant cultural resources. If avoidance is not possible, conduct appropriate cultural resource recovery operations or alternative mitigations as determined in consultation with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and Native American tribes, as required under the National Historic Preservation Act.
    • Periodic monitoring of significant cultural resources in the vicinity of the coal mine (including areas where new road access has been provided) may be required to reduce the potential for looting and vandalism. Should loss or damage be detected, consult with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and Native American tribes immediately to determine additional protective measures or further action to mitigate the impact.
    • An unexpected discovery of cultural resources during any phase of the project shall result in a work stoppage in the vicinity of the find until the resources can be evaluated by a professional archaeologist.
    • Educate workers and the public on the consequences of unauthorized collection of artifacts.
    • During all phases of the project, keep equipment and vehicles within the limits of the initially disturbed areas.