Federal & State Review

Federal & State Review

DHR’s Review and Compliance Division reviews federal and state projects that may impact historic and cultural resources, and provides recommendations for protecting and preserving these resources.

Director, Review and Compliance Division

The Review and Compliance Division is responsible for evaluating federal and state projects that may impact historic and cultural resources in the state. This includes the review of surveys and assessments of historic resources, facilitating consultation with Native American tribes and other stakeholders, and providing technical assistance on preservation and restoration techniques. The division also provides recommendations for protecting and preserving these resources in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations.

The Review and Compliance Division works closely with federal and state agencies, project sponsors, and other stakeholders to identify potential impacts to historic and cultural resources, and to develop appropriate mitigation measures to minimize these impacts. This includes conducting surveys and assessments of historic resources, consulting with Native American tribes and other stakeholders, and providing technical assistance on preservation and restoration techniques. The division also provides guidance and training to agencies and project sponsors on compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, and helps to promote a better understanding of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. Overall, the Review and Compliance Division plays a critical role in ensuring the protection and preservation of Virginia’s historic and cultural resources for future generations.

Project Review Application Form
Department of Historic Resources ePIX
Use pre-ePIX Project Review Form
Defining Your Potential Effects
Guidelines for the submission and review of FCC projects
Assessing Visual Effects on Historic Properties
Permit for Archaeological Field Investigation on State-Controlled Land
Permit for the Archaeological Excavation of Human Remains
State Stewardship Report

Frequently Asked Questions






It is the nature of the project (for instance, if it is federally funded, licensed, or permitted), not the presence of a historic property, that triggers the review process.

An “undertaking” means a project, activity, or program funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a federal agency. “Federal” means under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a Federal agency. Federal undertakings usually take one of four forms: Actions directly carried out by, or on behalf of, a Federal agency; for example: the Navy plans to build a hospital at a naval base. Actions carried out with Federal financial assistance; for example: a state highway project is given financial assistance by the Federal Highway Administration. Actions requiring a Federal license, permit, or approval; for example: stream crossings that require a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit. Actions subject to state or local regulation administered pursuant to a delegation or approval by a Federal agency; for example: permits issued by the Department of Environmental Quality under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

Under Federal law, an historic property is any district, site, building, structure, or object that is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

To ensure consistency in its review of both Federal and state undertakings, DHR uses The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation (1983). The Secretary’s Standards establish professional standards for the identification, evaluation, registration, and treatment of historic properties. DHR also provides report preparation and survey guidelines to help government agencies (the project sponsors) and their consultants meet these standards.

DHR usually provides comments within 30 days of receipt of a complete review package. Statutory timeframe for the Section 106 review process are given on the website of the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation.

Federal agencies are required for all undertakings subject to Section 106 to clearly define the scope of their undertaking, develop an Area of Potential Effect (APE), make a reasonable and good-faith effort to identify and evaluate historic properties, and to assess the project’s effects when historic properties are found. If adverse effects are identified, the Federal agency must avoid, minimize, or mitigate those effects. This process of compliance is carried out in consultation with DHR, which serves as the State Historic Preservation Office in Virginia. DHR has developed an Electronic Project Information Exchange (ePIX) system to facilitate this consultation. Other consulting parties include the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Indian tribes that attach religious or cultural significance to historic properties that may be affected by an undertaking, local governments, interested public, and other stakeholders.

Although Federal agencies are responsible for completion of all steps of the Section 106 process, certain Federal agencies transfer some of these responsibilities to others. For example, applicants for Federal financial assistance or for Federal permits may be required to provide information about the project directly to the SHPO and to complete the step of identification in consultation with the SHPO.

The Federal agency is responsible for making a reasonable and good-faith effort to locate historic properties that may be affected by an undertaking. In addition to reviewing information on properties already listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the agency must consult other sources, like local preservation groups, that might have knowledge about historic properties that are documented but have not yet been considered for listing. DHR is a primary source of information. The agency must also ask the department’s opinion about whether previously unidentified resources exist in the affected area. After reviewing available information and the opinion of DHR, the agency may take further actions, such as conducting surveys to locate historic properties.

Organizations and individuals concerned with the effects of an undertaking on historic properties may be involved in the 106 review process. Interested parties may include: local governments, applicants for Federal assistance, licenses or permits, Native Americans, landowners, other members of the public, and private-sector organizations and groups. Interested parties should contact DHR and the responsible Federal agency.

The Federal agency responsible for the undertaking generally pays for any necessary surveys. However, some agencies require applicants for Federal financial assistance or permits to meet these costs as a condition of approval.

DHR provides information, guidance, expertise, and leadership in historic preservation for the Commonwealth. The department coordinates the Federal preservation program in the state and serves as an important link between the Federal government and the citizens of Virginia. No separate permit is issued by DHR in the Section 106 review process.

The Advisory Council is responsible for commenting to Federal agency officials on undertakings that affect historic properties. The Advisory Council is an independent Federal agency that carries out Section 106 reviews, advises the President, Congress, and Federal agencies on historic preservation, and provides education and training.

Authority to decide the course of a proposed Federal undertaking rests with the Federal agency providing the funding, license, or permit. The recommendations of DHR and the Advisory Council must be considered by the sponsoring Federal agency, but the agency itself retains all decision-making authority. In determining whether a property is eligible for the national register, the Keeper of the national register has final authority.

No. The Advisory Council, DHR, and the process cannot stop a project. The process can take time, especially if the Federal agency is slow to initiate consultation in the first phase, does not provide complete information, or the Federal agency and DHR are not in agreement as to the effect of a project on historic properties. Section 106 review should proceed concurrently with other environmental reviews. When Section 106 is considered early in the planning process, projects should not be delayed.

No. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, the Advisory Council, and DHR all acknowledge that, in some cases, historic buildings, structures, and sites may not be preserved without unreasonable investments. In other cases, there may be no reasonable alternatives to demolition. In such cases, the department may recommend excavation of an archaeological site, or written and photographic documentation of a building prior to its destruction.

No. The process encourages the rehabilitation of historic structures, a process by which old buildings can be repaired and brought up to modern standards without losing their historic character. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, the Advisory Council, and DHR all acknowledge that, in some cases, accurate restoration may not be possible, economically feasible, or even desirable. Information on conducting rehabilitations according to The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

No. In some cases, new construction is encouraged in historic areas. If new construction is proposed in an historic area, the project is evaluated to see how it might affect the historic character of the area. If the project will cause destruction of historic buildings or archaeological sites, or if the project is incompatible with the historic setting, the Section 106 process may result in revisions to the project design.

DHR reviews and comments on State agency projects that are subject to the State Environmental Review Act and coordinates on the review with the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Review. DHR’s comments, with those of other agencies and local governments concerned with environmental protection, are integrated into a single response from DEQ. DHR also comments on all State agency proposals for demolition of any structure, pursuant to Department General Services procedures. DHR’s comments are submitted to DGS for consideration. Lastly, DHR is afforded an opportunity to comment on State agency proposals to alter or destroy properties on the Virginia Landmarks Register. DHR’s comments are submitted to the Department of General Services (DGS) and to the agency initiating the project.

DHR reviews proposed projects submitted by State agencies to determine their effects on historic resources in the Commonwealth. Projects are reviewed first to determine if previously identified historic resources are in the project area. Sometimes it is necessary for State agencies to conduct architectural or archaeological surveys in order to identify significant properties. If the project is likely to affect an historic property, DHR works with the State agency to reach a solution that will minimize effects to the historic property.

The State agency should provide DHR with sufficient information (project location maps, photographs, a project description, etc.) to enable DHR to assess the effects of a project on historic property. State agencies are responsible for protecting the historic and archaeological resources owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

DHR is responsible for assisting State agencies in the fulfillment of their obligation to protect and preserve the Commonwealth’s historic and archaeological resources. DHR does this by maintaining information about historic resources and the methods recommended by experts to ensure their preservation. Department staff members are available to meet with State agencies and their consultants to offer technical preservation assistance and project review comments. DHR is required to respond to review and technical assistance requests in a timely manner, usually within 30 days. The department has developed an Electronic Project Information Exchange (ePIX) system to facilitate this consultation. The department also has responsibility for reviewing the following State permit applications: for conducting archaeological surveys on State lands; for archaeological field investigations involving the removal of human remains and artifacts from graves; permits for either exploration or recovery of underwater historical properties, and for conducting research within caves and rock shelters.

Ultimately, the Governor has final decision-making authority for all state-sponsored projects.

Contact Us

Director, Review and Compliance Division

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits

DHR's Tax Credit program provides state tax credits to property owners who undertake the rehabilitation of historic buildings in compliance with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilita...


The Virginia Cultural Resources Information System (VCRIS) is an online database that contains the inventory of buildings, districts, archaeological sites, and other types of properties. VCRIS allo...

Certified Local Government

Communities strengthen and expand their local preservation programs through Certified Local Government (CLG) designation. The CLG program was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 19...

Regional Archaeology Programs

Most of the department’s archaeological survey, field, and technical assistance activities are conducted from our three regional offices. If you have questions pertaining to local archaeology, need...

DHR Archives

DHR's Archives houses the agency’s collection of records of the historic resources documented in Virginia.  These records can include descriptions of the resources; historical research; photographs...

Archaeological Collections

The Archaeological Collections programs of Curation and Conservation aim to ensure the proper management and preservation of archaeological collections. They provide for the curation, care, and tre...