Volume 2: Cultural Resources


For questions about Volume 2, please contact Jill Hupp in the Cultural Studies Office at (916) 653-1029.

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 SER 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.

Cultural Resources Compliance Templates

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

Chapter 1 – General Information (PDF) (Revised 1/2/15)

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 6/1/15)

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 1/2/15)

Chapter 3 presents Caltrans policy and procedures for coordination with Native Americans regarding cultural resources. It describes pertinent legislation and regulations that address Native American concerns and resources, including the federal and state Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The chapter sets forth the policy and procedures for obtaining a Native American Monitor, the roles of Monitors and Most Likely Descendants, and the issue of confidentiality relative to Native American cultural resources. It also defines Caltrans' relationship with the California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC).

Chapter 4 – Cultural Resources Identification (PDF) (Revised 5/11/15)

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 – Prehistoric Archaeological Resources Identification, Evaluation and Treatment (PDF) (Revised 1/2/15)

Caltrans’ methods and procedures for the evaluation and treatment of prehistoric 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), 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 – Historical Archaeological Resources Evaluation and Treatment (PDF) (Revised 1/2/15)

Chapter 6 details Caltrans' methods and procedures for evaluating and treating archaeological sites from California’s historic period. There are sections that summarize Caltrans archaeological policies and that describe Caltrans procedures to define and evaluate historical archaeological sites, conduct archival research and interviews, evaluate sites without excavation, prepare excavation proposals, conduct data recovery, and prepare pertinent technical reports. Guidance is offered for preparing Historical Resources Evaluation Reports (HRER) that evaluate historical archaeological sites, as well as Excavation Proposals, Extended Phase I and Phase II Reports, Treatment Plans, and Data Recovery Plans. There is also a section on field safety with particular emphasis on hazardous materials that may be encountered in historical archaeological sites.

Chapter 7 – Built-Environment Resources Evaluation and Treatment (PDF) (Revised 7/10/15)

Chapter 7 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 7 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 1.2 – PRC 5024 MOU with 2019 Addendum Exhibit 1.2 (PDF) January 1, 2020
Exhibit 1.3 – Definitions of Terms Exhibit 1.3 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 1.4 – Abbreviations Exhibit 1.4 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 1.5 – Historic Preservation Laws and Regulations Summary Exhibit 1.5 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 1.6 – Required Expertise for Cultural Resources Actions Exhibit 1.6 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 2.1 – Section 106 Programmatic Agreement Flowchart Exhibit 2.1 (PDF) January 1, 2015
Exhibit 2.2 – Concordance between Existing Section 106 Regulations and Section 106 Programmatic Agreement Exhibit 2.2 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 2.3 - Time and Effort Required for Cultural Resources Compliance Exhibit 2.3 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 2.4 - Sequential Order of Cultural Resource Activities Exhibit 2.4 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 2.5 - Screened Undertaking Memo Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.5 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 2.6 - Historic Property Survey Report (HPSR) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.6 (PDF) June 19, 2018
Exhibit 2.7 - Environmentally Sensitive Area Action Plan (ESA) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.7 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 2.8 - Finding of No Adverse Effect (FNAE) Format and Content Guide (includes Standard Conditions) Exhibit 2.8 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 2.9 - Finding of Adverse Effect (FAE) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.9 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 2.11 - Required Copies and Required Reviews of Cultural Resources Documents Exhibit 2.11 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 2.12 - Annotated Memos and Letters Exhibit 2.12 (PDF) August 7, 2015
Exhibit 2.13 - Peer Review Guidelines for Cultural Resources Documents Exhibit 2.13 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 2.14 – Historical Resources Compliance Report (HRCR) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 2.14 (PDF) September 20, 2018
Exhibit 2.15 – Cultural Resources Information to Include in Environmental Documents Exhibit 2.15 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 2.16 - External Distribution and Publication Of Reports and Public Presentations Exhibit 2.16 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 2.17 - Excess Property Transfers and Route Relinquishments Exhibit 2.17 (PDF) July 10, 2015
Exhibit 3.1 - Definitions of Consultation Exhibit 3.1 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 4.1 - Cultural Resources Process Checklist Exhibit 4.1 (PDF) January 3, 2014
Exhibit 4.2 - Standard Sources of Information Exhibit 4.2 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 4.3 - National Register and California Register Comparison Exhibit 4.3 (PDF) January 3, 2014
Exhibit 4.4 - Minimal Record Exhibit 4.4 (PDF) January 2, 2015
Exhibit 5.1 - Archaeological Survey Report (ASR) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.1 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.2 - Extended Phase I Proposal (XPI) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.2 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.3 - Extended Phase I Report (XPI) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.3 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.4 - Archaeological Evaluation Proposal (Phase II) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.4 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.5 - Archaeological Evaluation Report (Phase II) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.5 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.6 - Data Recovery Plan (DPR) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.6 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.7 - Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Proposal Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.7 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.8 - Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Report Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.8 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.9 - Excavation Pre-field Checklist Exhibit 5.9 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 5.10 - Geophysical Guidance for Archaeological Resources Exhibit 5.10 (PDF) June 12, 2014
Exhibit 5.11 - Post-Review Discovery and Monitoring Plan Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.11 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.12 - Post-Review Discovery Without Plan Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.12 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 5.13 – Construction Impacts to Cultural Resources Report Format and Content Guide Exhibit 5.13 (PDF) July 31, 2015
Exhibit 6.1 - Cultural Resources Letter Report Format and Content Guide (used only when Section 106 PA does not apply) Exhibit 6.1 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 6.2 - Historical Resources Evaluation Report (HRER) Format and Content Guide Exhibit 6.2 (PDF) May 11, 2015
Exhibit 7.1 - Ranking Character-Defining Features Exhibit 7.1 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 7.2 - Bridge Numbering and Historic Status Codes Exhibit 7.2 (PDF) January 2, 2014
Exhibit 7.3 - Historic Bridges and Tunnels Screened Undertakings and Activities Exhibit 7.3 (PDF) August 14, 2015
Exhibit 7.4 - Historic Bridges and Tunnels No Adverse Effects with Standard Conditions Exhibit 7.4 (PDF) August 14, 2015
Exhibit 7.5 - Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (SOIS) Action Plan Format and Content Guide Exhibit 7.5 (PDF) August 14, 2015
Exhibit 7.6 – Heritage Documentation for HABS/ HAER / HALS Exhibit 7.6 (PDF) August 14, 2015