Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Environmental Review Archeological Surveys

The investigation of cultural resources is divided into three phases or survey types. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation recommends that surveys follow the Standards for Cultural Resource Investigations and the Curation of Archaeological Collections in New York State. The investigation of cultural resources is divided into three phases, increasing in intensity and detail. An outline of these phases and a summary of their relationship is presented below. It must be noted that proposed project locations developed as a result of redesign will usually require a reevaluation of cultural resources for the area to be impacted.

A. Phase I: Reconnaissance

The Phase I survey is designed to determine the presence or absence of cultural resources in the project's potential impact area. To facilitate planning, the Phase I survey is divided into two logically progressive units of study, briefly described below.

  • Phase IA: Literature Search and Sensitivity Study
    This is the initial level of survey and is carried out to evaluate the overall sensitivity of the project area for the presence of cultural resources, as well as to guide the field investigation that follows. The Phase IA work must be conducted early in the planning activities for each project. This allows the information derived from this work to be used in developing and screening alternatives. In carrying out a literature search, sources at the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), universities, local libraries and informants, museums, historical societies, etc., are consulted. An initial field inspection of the project area is conducted to assess previous disturbance and the level of testing which may be necessary. The resulting document contains a cultural history of the project area, and an evaluation of the area's known and potential sensitivity for cultural resources which might be affected by possible construction impacts. Further, the Phase IA report will contain recommendations for the subsequent Phase IB survey process.
  • Phase IB: Field Investigation
    In the Phase IB survey it is necessary to determine the presence or absence of cultural resources in the probable impact areas. The areas to be subjected to testing are selected on the basis of the data gathered in the Phase IA evaluation and the probable locations of ground disturbing activities. Subsurface testing is the major component of this level of survey and is required unless the presence or absence of resources can be determined by direct observation or by examination of specific documented references. Detailed evaluation of the identified resource is not carried out during the Phase 1B. If no cultural resources are discovered, the survey process is completed. If resources are discovered as a result of this survey, modifications to the proposed project may be made to avoid or minimize potential impacts. If resources are identified during the Phase IB survey or are known to exist as a result of the Phase IA and cannot be readily avoided, then additional examination is needed to establish the significance of the resource.

B. Phase II: Site Evaluation

The Phase II survey is a detailed evaluation of an identified cultural resource(s) that cannot be avoided by reasonable modification to the proposed project. Examination is carried out on each of the identified resources to provide adequate data to make a determination of eligibility for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Phase II should include, at a minimum, information on boundaries, integrity and significance of the resource(s) and evaluation of the impact of the proposed project as well as any additional data necessary to evaluate eligibility.

C. Phase III: Data Recovery

If a listed or eligible resource cannot be avoided, some form of mitigation is necessary. Mitigation may include the reduction of the direct impact on the resource as well as data recovery for the portion of the site to be impacted. A data retrieval plan should be developed that balances resource-preservation, engineering, environmental and economic concerns, while addressing research questions. The plan needs to be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) prior to implementation. The full implementation of the data retrieval plan will ensure adequate mitigation of the resource.