Volume 2: Cultural Resources


This section of the SER is designed for cultural resource specialists. It contains more detailed information than Chapter 28 of Volume 1.

NOTICE: In October 2013, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) assigned to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) all its responsibilities for compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for Caltrans' participation in the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, pursuant to, 23 USC 327, as amended by Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). This includes FHWA's Section 106 responsibilities. Under NEPA assignment, the Caltrans Division of Environmental Analysis Cultural Studies Office (DEA-CSO) was assigned FHWA's Section 106 responsibilities. Therefore, wherever FHWA is mentioned in the Caltrans Standard Environmental Reference Volume 2 – Cultural Resources (SER Vol. 2), it refers to DEA-CSO. Using the process outlined in Volume 2, the appropriate Caltrans district environmental staff will continue to process Section 106 compliance documentation for Caltrans projects and for FHWA-funded local agency projects. Consultants will continue to submit their Section 106 documents to the appropriate district Heritage Resources Coordinator for processing.

For more information on NEPA delegation, please refer to Chapter 38 of the SER. Questions regarding DEA-CSO's FHWA Section 106 responsibilities, should be directed to the appropriate District Heritage Resources Coordinator.


The consideration of cultural resources is a critical part of all phases of project development, construction, permitting, right of way, and maintenance activities. Caltrans must comply with federal and state environmental laws and regulations designed to protect cultural resources significant in American archaeology, architecture, history, culture, and engineering.

To meet legal requirements for cultural resources management, Caltrans personnel must follow the guidelines outlined in the SER Volume 2. Following is a synopsis of this handbook. Each chapter has supplemental material in a series of exhibits (e.g., Chapter 1, Exhibit 1.1, 1.2; Chapter 2, Exhibit 2.1, 2.2, and so on).

Caltrans has developed templates for cultural resources documents described in the chapters and exhibits.  Links to these templates are below and also can be found on the Cultural Templates page.

The following information is in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). Please be aware that some of the files are large and may take considerable time to download depending upon your Internet connection.

Section 106 PA/PRC 5024 MOU Renewal

Caltrans has extended the duration of the existing Section 106 PA (Exhibit 1.1a) and PRC 5024 MOU (Exhibit 1.2a) for twelve months or until the renewed 106 PA and 5024 MOU are executed. Project documents and consultation letters should continue to cite the 2014 PA and MOU agreements. Go to the PA/MOU Renewal website for more information on the renewal effort.   

Cultural Resources Compliance Templates

Cultural resources documents used for Section 106 and PRC 5024 compliance.

Chapter 1 – General Information (PDF) (Revised 6/7/22)

The first chapter introduces Volume 2. It summarizes federal and state historic preservation laws and provides general background information on cultural resources management. This chapter identifies Caltrans' cultural resources policies and directs all units of the Department to follow these policies. Chapter 1 also describes the organization, roles and responsibilities, and staffing requirements that Caltrans uses to manage cultural resources.

Chapter 2 – Cultural Resources Procedures (PDF) (Revised 12/10/21)

The chapter discusses in detail the Section 106 Programmatic Agreement that governs Caltrans cultural resources actions on federally-assisted state and local projects: the First Amended Programmatic Agreement Among the Federal Highway Administration, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the California State Historic Preservation Officer, and the California Department of Transportation Regarding Compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act as it Pertains to the Administration of the Federal-Aid Highway Program in California (Section 106 PA). This agreement is included as Exhibit 1.1 (PDF) of the handbook. All actions taken under the Section 106 PA must be conducted by or under the supervision of Caltrans Professionally Qualified Staff (PQS).

Chapter 2 contains instructions for processing cultural resources documents in compliance with federal and state laws. It specifically discusses compliance requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its relationship to Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, and at the state level, the California Environmental Quality Act and the Public Resources Code. Parallel segments for federal projects and for state-only projects describe pertinent legislation and compliance procedures, including identification, evaluation, and mitigation. The chapter discusses the types of reports required to document that cultural resources have been considered in Caltrans project planning.

Chapter 3 – Native American Consultation (PDF) (Revised 10/29/21)

Chapter 3 presents the department’s policies, procedures, and best practices for coordination and consultation with California Native American Tribes about potential effects to tribal cultural sites and landscapes during transportation project delivery, maintenance, and other activities.  It describes pertinent legislation, regulations, policies, and guidance that serve as the basis for the department’s consultation procedures. The chapter also sets forth the department’s broader tribal government diplomatic responsibilities and provides guidance on carrying out early tribal coordination and engagement during transportation planning and scoping phases to help support the department’s tribal government relations.

Chapter 4 – Cultural Resources Identification (PDF) (Revised 5/20/20)

Chapter 4 discusses the process and procedures for identifying cultural resources within the project area. The chapter describes the types of cultural resources that Caltrans is expected to identify and the appropriate sequence of steps to follow for determining whether recordation and evaluation would be necessary. It covers such topics as defining an Area of Potential Effects, background (or pre-field) research, initial archaeological and reconnaissance surveys. The final section in the chapter offers guidance for requesting the appropriate specialists to evaluate cultural resources that were identified in the initial steps as warranting evaluation.

Chapter 5 – Archaeological Resources Identification, Evaluation, Effects and Treatment (PDF) (Revised 6/29/21)

Caltrans’ methods and procedures for the evaluation and treatment of prehistoric and historical archaeological resources are discussed in Chapter 5. There are sections that summarize Caltrans archaeological policies and describe Caltrans procedures to define and evaluate archaeological sites, conduct data recovery, and prepare the pertinent technical reports. Guidance is offered for field safety, preparing Archaeological Survey Reports (ASR), Excavation Proposals, Extended Phase I reports, Archaeological Evaluation Reports (AER), Historic Resources Evaluation Report (HRER), Phase III proposals and reports, and Data Recovery Plans. The chapter provides information on construction monitoring, environmentally sensitive areas, archaeological permits, and archaeological procedures to follow in the event of post-review discoveries or for activities not related to projects.

Chapter 6 – Built-Environment Resources Evaluation and Treatment (PDF) (Revised 7/5/20)

Chapter 6 outlines Caltrans' methods and procedures for recording, evaluating, and treating buildings, bridges, structures, objects, non-archaeological sites, and districts composed of such structural features. There are sections that summarize Caltrans history and architectural history policies and that describe Caltrans procedures to evaluate built cultural resources, the relationship between research and evaluation, and step-by-step procedures for processing HRERs. Chapter 6 offers mitigation options to be considered when historic properties may be affected by proposed transportation projects. Lastly, the chapter also explains Caltrans' legal responsibility for maintaining its historic buildings and structures.


Description Download Exhibits Version Date
Exhibit 1.1 – Section 106 Programmatic Agreement Exhibit 1.1 (PDF) January 1, 2014
Exhibit 1.1a – Section 106 Programmatic Agreement Extension Exhibit 1.1a (PDF) January 1, 2024
Exhibit 1.2 – PRC 5024 MOU with 2019 Addendum Exhibit 1.2 (PDF) January 1, 2020
Exhibit 1.2a – PRC 5024 MOU with 2019 Addendum Extension Exhibit 1.2a (PDF) January 1, 2024
Exhibit 1.3 – Definitions of Terms Exhibit 1.3 (PDF) September 17, 2019
Exhibit 1.4 – Abbreviations Exhibit 1.4 (PDF) December 19, 2019
Exhibit 1.5 – Section 4(f) and Cultural Resources Exhibit 1.5 (PDF) June 23, 2020
Exhibit 1.6 – Required Expertise for Cultural Resources Actions Exhibit 1.6 (PDF)

April 29, 2020

Exhibit 1.7 – Guidance for Professionally Qualified Staff (PQS) Applications Exhibit 1.7 (PDF)  December 10, 2021
Exhibit 2.1 – Section 106 Programmatic Agreement Flowchart Exhibit 2.1 (PDF) December 31, 2019
Exhibit 2.2 – Concordance between Existing Section 106 Regulations and Section 106 Programmatic Agreement Exhibit 2.2 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.3 - Time and Effort Required for Cultural Resources Compliance Exhibit 2.3 (PDF) December 18, 2019
Exhibit 2.4 - Sequential Order of Cultural Resource Activities Exhibit 2.4 (PDF) June 23, 2020
Exhibit 2.5 - Screened Undertaking Memo Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.5 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.6 - Historic Property Survey Report (HPSR) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.6 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.7 - Historical Resources Compliance Report (HRCR) Format and Content Guide

Exhibit 2.7 (PDF)

April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.8 - Finding of No Adverse Effect (FNAE) Format and Content Guide (includes Standard Conditions) Exhibit 2.8 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.9 - Finding of Adverse Effect (FAE) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.9 (PDF) December 30, 2019
Exhibit 2.10 - Guidelines for Agreement Documents Exhibit 2.10 (PDF)  April 29, 2020
Exhibit 2.11 - Environmentally Sensitive Area Action Plan (ESA) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.11 (PDF) December 18, 2019
Exhibit 2.12 - Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (SOIS) Action Plan Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.12 (PDF)  April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.13 - Peer Review Guidelines for Cultural Resources Documents Exhibit 2.13 (PDF) September 18, 2019
Exhibit 2.14 - Required Copies and Required Reviews of Cultural Resources Documents Exhibit 2.14 (PDF) September 18, 2019
Exhibit 2.15 – Cultural Resources Information to Include in Environmental Documents Exhibit 2.15 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.16 - External Distribution and Publication Of Reports and Public Presentations Exhibit 2.16 (PDF) September 19, 2019
Exhibit 2.17 - Excess Property Transfers and Route Relinquishments Exhibit 2.17 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 2.18 - Annotated Memos and Letters Exhibit 2.18 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 3.1 - Key Policies, Directives, Guidance, and Laws for Tribal Diplomacy and Consultation Exhibit 3.1 (PDF) October 29, 2021
Exhibit 3.2 - Transportation Development/Tribal Engagement Timeline Exhibit 3.2 (PDF) December 31, 2021
Exhibit 3.3 - Consultation and Integration of Tribal Expertise Exhibit 3.3 (PDF) December 21, 2021
Exhibit 3.4 - Guidance on Reimbursement for Tribal Expertise Exhibit 3.4 (PDF) December 21, 2021
Exhibit 3.5 - Tribal Outreach and Consultation Log Exhibit 3.5 (PDF) December 21, 2021
Exhibit 3.6 - Director’s Policy 19 Exhibit 3.6 (PDF) October 29, 2021
Exhibit 4.1 - Cultural Resources Process Checklist Exhibit 4.1 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 4.2 - Standard Sources of Information Exhibit 4.2 (PDF) December 30, 2019
Exhibit 4.3 - National Register and California Register Comparison Exhibit 4.3 (PDF) June 30, 2020
Exhibit 4.4 - Minimal Recordation for Certain Exempted State-owned Resources Exhibit 4.4 (PDF) April 28, 2020
Exhibit 5.1 - Archaeological Survey Report (ASR) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.1 (PDF) June 15, 2021
Exhibit 5.2 - Extended Phase I Proposal (XPI) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.2 (PDF) June 15, 2021
Exhibit 5.3 - Extended Phase I Report (XPI) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.3 (PDF) June 15, 2021
Exhibit 5.4 - Archaeological Evaluation Proposal (Phase II) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.4 (PDF) June 15, 2021
Exhibit 5.5 - Archaeological Evaluation Report (Phase II) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.5 (PDF) June 15, 2021
Exhibit 5.6 - Data Recovery Plan (DRP) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.6 (PDF) June 16, 2021
Exhibit 5.7 - Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Proposal Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.7 (PDF) June 16, 2021
Exhibit 5.8 - Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Report Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.8 (PDF) June 16, 2021
Exhibit 5.9 - Excavation Pre-field Checklist Exhibit 5.9 (PDF) June 16, 2021
Exhibit 5.11 - Post-Review Discovery and Monitoring Plan Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.11 (PDF) June 18, 2021
Exhibit 5.12 - Post-Review Discovery Without Plan Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.12 (PDF) June 16, 2021
Exhibit 5.13 – Construction Impacts to Cultural Resources Report Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.13 (PDF) June 16, 2021
Exhibit 5.14 – Historical Archaeology Guidelines Exhibit 5.14 (PDF) June 17, 2021
Exhibit 6.1 - Ranking Character-Defining Features Exhibit 6.1 (PDF) January 27, 2020
Exhibit 6.2 - Bridge Numbering and Historic Status Codes Exhibit 6.2 (PDF) November 12, 2019
Exhibit 6.3 - Historic Bridges and Tunnels Screened Undertakings and Activities
Exhibit 6.3 (PDF) October 4, 2020
Exhibit 6.4 - Historic Bridges and Tunnels No Adverse Effects with Standard Conditions
Exhibit 6.4 (PDF) April 29, 2020
Exhibit 6.5 - Historical Resources Evaluation Report (HRER) Format and Content Guide
Exhibit 6.5 (PDF) April 29, 2020
Exhibit 6.6 – Heritage Documentation for HABS/ HAER / HALS
Exhibit 6.6 (PDF) April 29, 2020